LIVESTREAM CFL: Edmonton Elks @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Aug. 18, 01:30 CET (1:30 am, 7:30 pm Aug. 17 EDT)

HAMILTON — The Edmonton Elks are still searching for their first win of 2023 as they travel to Hamilton to take on the Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field on Thursday night.

It was so close, yet oh so far for Edmonton in pursuit of win No. 1 last week as they jumped out to a 22-0 lead before falling 38-29 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Hamilton spent their off week game planning on how to hand the Elks their 10th straight loss to open the season. They should be an eager bunch as the last time they were on the field they fell 27-14 to the Montreal Alouettes.

» Depth Chart: EDM | HAM

There’s plenty of positives for the Elks to carry into Hamilton, starting with the play of quarterback Tre Ford who threw for 189 yards and rushed for 50 more. He was able to find the end zone with both his arm and his legs.

Ford combined with running back Kevin Brown, who had 98 rushing yards against the Bombers, will see plenty of action against a Ticats front that’s surrendering 121.6 yards per game. 

After targeting just four receivers in Week 10, Ford will again rely on Kyran MooreSteven Dunbar Jr.Dillon Mitchell and Emmanuel Arceneaux to make plays.

Those won’t be the only weapons as his disposal though as top playmaker Eugene Lewis makes his return after being out since June with a knee injury.

The defensive struggles for the Ticats have been all around, as they’ve coughed up an average of 278.8 yards in the air. With Arceneaux regaining his rhythm after returning from injury and Lewis looking to do the same, it’s a receiving corps capable of doing damage.

Defensively, the Elks will look to be more like the team they were in the first half against the Bombers than the second.

The secondary continues to be the the glue of the defence despite giving up 313 passing yards in their most recent loss. Defensive backs Ed Gainey and Kai Gray lead a unit that’s allowed 264.1 yards through the air per contest.

Watch live. Edmonton Elks @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Aug. 18, 01:30 CET (1:30 am, 7:30 pm Aug. 17 EDT)

Up front, defensive lineman A.C. Leonard continues to put together a strong season. With two sacks against Winnipeg, he’s now just two behind Mathieu Betts of the Lions for the league lead. The quarterback he’ll try to get to, Taylor Powell, is still trying to find his footing.

Head coach Chris Jones knows his team will need to be ready for a well prepared Ticats team.

“They’re kind of like us,” Jones told reporters“They look really, really good sometimes and then sometimes they stub their toe. They’re well coached, Orlondo (Steinauer) does a great job and I know Scott Milanovich is over there too. It’ll be interesting coming off a bye seeing exactly how they operate.”

Speaking of Milanovich, he takes over play calling duties after the Ticats parted ways with Tommy Condell.

While it’s been a revolving door at quarterback due to injuries, receivers D’Haquille Williams and Tim White have steered the pass game to 2,125 yards so far this season, good enough for fifth best.

Running the football hasn’t been a strength but James Butler is coming off a 59-yard game and a touchdown against the Als. He also ranks tied for second with four rushing touchdowns.

This week could be just what he needs as he’ll go head-to-head with an Elks front dead last when it comes to limiting yardage on the ground and allowed 164 to the Bombers a week ago.

With 24 sacks as a team, the defensive front of Ted LaurentMarcus Sayles, and Malik Carney will be asked to shutdown the legs of Ford and Brown.

With Ford unproven in the pass game, defensive backs Tunde Adeleke and Richard Leonard will patrol the secondary and lead a corps that comes into the game with eight interceptions.

Collectively, the defence has also recovered the second most fumbles with seven.

Steinauer knows that Ford will be playing with confidence after starting his first game of the season.

“His package is going to expand,” Steinauer told reporters“I’m sure he’s going to be confident. What he brings athletically speaks for itself. If he gets out in the open, he’s going to be hard to catch. We’re going to have our hands full there. He’s definitely a cog that helps them go right now.”

Both teams also need to be more disciplined as the Elks rank last with 878 yards in penalties, while the Ticats are eighth with 783. 

Sustained pressure and a creative offensive game plan is what the Elks need if they want to pick up their first win of the season. 

For the Ticats, a win will keep them from falling further behind Montreal and Toronto in the East Division standings.

Watch live. Edmonton Elks @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Aug. 18, 01:30 CET (1:30 am, 7:30 pm Aug. 17 EDT)

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