Surging Stampeders take on Tiger-Cats

By The Sports NetworkAug. 13, 2014 at 12:45 PM
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The Calgary Stampeders will attempt to keep p

The Stamps have come storming out of the gate this season with wins in five of their first six games, which has them tied for first place in the West with Edmonton. After suffering its first loss of the season on Aug. 1, Calgary bounced back at home last Saturday with an easy 38-17 victory over Ottawa, and now it heads back out on the road looking to win its third straight away game.

Hamilton has undoubtedly been one of the most disappointing teams in the CFL this season. A season removed from an appearance in the Grey Cup Final, the Ticats have floundered, opening up just 1-5. Their 36-29 loss to British Columbia on Aug. 8 was their second consecutive setback (and their fourth this season coming by seven points or fewer), but the silver lining is that they are situated in the much-inferior East Division, where they are only a game and a half behind Toronto (3-4) for first place.

The teams squared off in Calgary back on July 18, with a fourth-quarter field goal lifting the Stamps to a 10-7 victory, their third straight win over the Ticats.

Calgary won last week's contest fairly easily behind another outstanding performance from Bo Levi Mitchell, who threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another major. The third-year signal caller has been excellent this year, completing 62.8 percent of his passes for 1,421 yards. He's also tied for the league lead in touchdown passes (11) and has tossed only two interceptions.

Marquay McDaniel was Mitchell's preferred receiving target last week, hauling in nine passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. McDaniel now has 24 receptions for 308 yards and three scores on the season, and he and Jeff Fuller (23 receptions, 307 yards, four TDs) make up a formidable receiving duo.

The Stamps do not feature a true lead back but instead get solid production from a rotation of rushers. Matt Walter (139 yards) and Jock Sanders (136 yards) have earned the most work, while Martell Mallett (132 yards) has been the most explosive with 7.8 yards per carry.

While Calgary's offensive production ranks in the middle of the CFL pack (341.2 ypg), it has shined on the defensive side of the ball, ranking third in allowing just 321.6 ypg, which includes the top-ranked passing defense (198.2 ypg).

Brandon Smith anchors the unit in the defensive backfield, as he ranks second in the CFL in tackles with 32. Linebacker Juwan Simpson has also been a solid stopper with 22 tackles.

Joining Smith in arguably the league's most talented secondary are Joshua Bell and Fred Bennett, who have both collected a pair of interceptions on the young season.

Leading the pass-rush is Charleston Hughes, whose six sacks ranks second in the league behind only John Chick of the Roughriders (nine). Freddie Bishop III, Micah Johnson and Simpson also have multiple sacks.

Hamilton's lackluster season has been well-represented in the league standings, as its total offense (331.5 ypg) and total defense (374.2 ypg) both rank eighth in the league.

Dan LeFevour was solid under center in last week's loss, completing 23-of-34 passes for 298 yards, while also turning nine carries into 103 yards and a touchdown. The Ticats appear to have found their answer at quarterback after Jeremiah Masoli (14-of-35, 225 yards, TD, two INTs) and Zach Collaros (23- of-41, 212 yards, TD, two INTs) both struggled early in the season. LeFevour also has more interceptions (three) than touchdown passes (two), but he has completed more than 67 percent of his passes is an outstanding threat out of the pocket with 272 rushing yards and four majors.

Samuel Giguere showed outstanding big-play ability last week by racking up 130 yards on just three receptions, upping his yearly totals to 16 catches for 248 yards in the process. Rounding out the deep group of pass-catchers are C.J. Gable (30 receptions, 138 yards, two TDs), Luke Tasker (17 receptions, 208 yards, TD) and Cary Koch (13 receptions, 199 yards).

The Ticats' running backs were lost in the gameplan against BC their last time out, rushing just three times for -3 yards. Gable is typically a solid rusher, as he's added 30 carries for 138 yards and two scores to his impressive receiving totals.

Defensively, Hamilton has allowed 28.6 ppg in the three contests since allowing only 10 points to Calgary last month.

Simoni Lawrence is in the midst of a breakout campaign at linebacker, as his 31 tackles ranks third in the league and is already more than halfway to his career high of 52 set last season. Rico Murray has also been solid at linebacker, collecting 18 tackles while picking off two passes.

Hamilton's pass-rush has been virtually non-existent. The defense has just three sacks in six games, with Bryan Hall recording two of those.

As the last line of defense, Brandon Stewart (22 tackles) and Emanuel Davis (20 tackles) have been put to the test on a defense that gives up the most passing yards per game (278.8).


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