Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CFL Preview-Hamilton Ti-Cats

2010 Record: 9-9
2010 Postseason: Lost Eastern Conference Semifinal to Toronto 16-13
Head Coach: Marcel Bellefeuille (3rd Season, 18-20)
Offensive Coordinator: Khari Jones
Defensive Coordinator: Corey Chamblin

Kevin Glenn enters his 3rd season as the starting QB for the Ti-Cats. Glenn passed for 5102 yards last season with 33 TDs and 17 picks after having come back from an injury marred 2009 season. Glenn almost doubled his totals from the year before and led the Cats back to the playoffs.
Former Boston College QB Quinton Porter comes back for his 4th season as the backup for Hamilton. Porter only attempted 21 passes last season, and is used more as a running speed option and short yardage QB keepers.
Jason Boltus was brought in from Hartwick College, and is the #3 QB coming into camp. Boltus has developed well enough that the Cats felt comfortable enough to outright release former San Jose State QB Adam Tarfalis.

Avon Cobourne was the big addition in the off-season, as the two time Grey Cup Champion moves over from Montreal. Cobourne averaged 5.3 yards per carry and led all CFL backs in receiving with 64 receptions. Cobourne rushed for 956 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season with the Als.  He is thought of as the most complete and versatile back in the league.
Marcus Thigpen adds a dimension of speed, and averaged 8.2 yards per carry while scoring 3 TDs in 2010. He may be used in a dual back role at times with Cobourne to give the Cats a different look. He is also likely to line up and take some downs at SB.
Daryl Stephenson has been brought in from Winnepeg as the 3rd option in the backfield. Stephenson played primarily on special teams for the Bombers, but he is expected to see some backfield work in Hamilton when Cobourne and Thigpen need a rest. Stephenson is the record holder for career yards rushed in the CIS.
Glenn Milner, Terry Grant, and Conte Cuttino will also battle for snaps in camp.

This spot belongs to Darcy Brown, who comes back for his 3rd season with the Cats. He will be pushed for the job by converted LB Agustin Berrenechea.

14 receivers come to camp to battle for jobs. Arland Bruce is the leader of the group by far, as he collected a line of 86-1303-8 last season, averaging 15.2 yards per catch last season. This will be his 2nd full season as the orimary receiver for the Cats after being acquired during the 2009 season from Toronto.
Veteran Dave Stala is the next best option at receiver, as he finished 2010 with a line of 85-1015-6. He gives the Cats a veteran presence along with Bruce at the top of the receiver corps.
Marquay McDaniel (76-994-7), Maurice Mann (56-787-5), and free agent signing Rory Kohlert (37-461) round out the group. Kohlert was signed for depth from Saskatchewan.

11 linemen are in camp trying to earn jobs. Peter Dyakowski returns after being resigned in the offseason. Dyakowski is a fan favorite and provides veteran leadership up front. He provides 75 games of experience. Mark Dewit was brought in as a veteran presence with experience last season. Marwan Hage returns as the starting center for the Cats and is entering his 9th season. Jason Jimenez will return to play tackle and enters his 3rd season in Hamilton. Belton Johnson also returns to the Cats to take up the RT spot.

The Cats come into camp with only 7 linemen, 3 ends and 4 tackles. Stevie Baggs returns to his DE spot, but he fell flat last season as he fell from 12 sacks in 2009 to just 5 last year. He has a tremendous amount of work to do before he starts getting pushed. Former UCLA Bruin DE Justin Hickman will be back at the other DE spot, after he collected 44 tackles and 7 sacks in 2010. David Hicks joins the team from Dallas of the Arena Football League and will be competing in his 1st CFL camp to be the 3rd DE.
Demonte' Bolden will be a piece in the DT rotation, as he comes off of a 39 tackle season with 2 sacks last season. Matt Kirk returns after posting 27 tackles and 2 sacks a season ago. Albert Smith and Eddie Steele are in camp but have very little experience.

The LB spot is a bit murky. 3 starters are clearly identified, but the depth is lacking for experience. Jamall Johnson returns after a season in which he collected 1010 tackles and 5 sacks. He is joined by Markeith Knowlton, who had a very productive year in which he collected 71 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 picks, and 6 fumble recoveries. Renauld Wilson was yanked away from Saskatchewan to shore up the weak side.
Ike Brown, Yannick Carter (a special teams gunner), Brandon Densen, and Nathan Kanya will compete to shore up the unit.

18 DBs come into camp looking to compete for various jobs. 7 of them have sights set on starting jobs, and there 5 total in the secondary. Dylan Barker looks to have locked up the safety job after picking up 34 tackles and 3 picks last season. Jerome Davis had 54 tackles and 2 picks last season, and Daniel Francis had 53 tackles and a fumble recovery. Jason Shivers had 50 tackles 3 picks, and 2 FRs last season. Darren Toney was brought in as a free agent from BC last season to shore up the starting jobs. Ryan Hinds and Bo Smith are pushing in camp, while Matt BEswick will battle for a reserve spot, but will serve mainly on special teams. 8 CFL rookies will be in camp to compete for reserve/special teams spots.

It's Justin Medlock's job to lose now. The roster has been cleared for the rookie out of UCLA, who was the Groza award winner in 2009. He has never punted, but his leg is as good as it gets despite slipping just a bit in 2010.

The Cats have some work to do on defense, and they have to solve their depth issues up front. The tools are there for them to compete, but an Eastern Division title is not likely just yet.  Another playoff spot is not out of the question, but they could slip either way.

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