STREAMING PPV: Montreal Alouettes @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Nov. 28, 19:00 CET (7 pm, 1 pm ET)

HAMILTON — It was pointed out to Montreal Alouettes head coach Khari Jones this week that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats gave up the least rushing yards in the CFL, were tops in passes knocked down and tied for the most interceptions.

“Are you trying to scare me,” Jones said with a laugh. “We can’t run, we can’t pass.

“We feel good, we’re a formidable offence here. We feel like we have some things that go against a good defence. I give them (Hamilton) a lot of respect and a lot of credit but I also stand behind our guys.”

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Jones has good reason to feel confident when the Alouettes (7-7) face the Tiger-Cats (8-6) in Sunday’s Eastern Semi-Final at Tim Hortons Field.

A new and intriguing character has been introduced to an East Division race that had more plots twists and surprises than a season of Game of Thrones. The trade that brought quarterback Trevor Harris to Montreal from Edmonton on Oct. 17 has put another arrow in the Als’ quiver and helped heal the wound left by the season-ending injury suffered by Vernon Adams Jr.

Montreal was 1-3 in the four games Harris started. He completed 64 of 91 passes for 703 yards, eight touchdowns and just two interceptions, both of those coming in a loss to Winnipeg.

The numbers may not be overwhelming but there has been a progression. Harris also brings the experience of playing on two Grey Cup winning teams and was the starter when Ottawa lost the 2018 championship to Calgary.

The Alouettes have the CFL’s leading rusher in William Stanback and two of the league’s top receivers in Jake Wieneke and Eugene Lewis. All three are East Division All-Stars.

Harris brings stability and poise into a game where the winner moves on to face the Toronto Argonauts in the Eastern Final and the loser is done.

“I call the game just a touch differently with him in there,” said Jones, who also is Montreal’s the offensive coordinator. “I feel comfortable with what he can do and how he sees the game.

“He’s just a really smart guy and knows the game and his experience shows.”

Each week Harris is becoming more comfortable with his receivers and pulling the levers of the Montreal offensive controls.

“You can feel like the things that need ironing out are dwindling more and more,” said Harris. “I really feel like we’re super close. I think we’re starting to really roll.

“We’re in a good spot mentally, physically and emotionally as well.”

Hamilton and Montreal split their two games during the regular season with the away team winning each time. Hamilton took the first meeting 27-10. In the second game, Montreal trailed by 14 points at one point before winning 23-20 in overtime.

Sunday’s game will be the first time this year the Tiger-Cats have played against Harris.

“There are advantages and disadvantages,” said Harris. “I’m not sure that one outweighs the other at this point in the season.

“They’ve seen me on film. I’ve seen them on film. I’m sure they’ll want to do certain things against me as some defences do. They definitely have got things rolling over there in Hamilton. It’s going to be a fun tilt.”

Hamilton coach Orlondo Steinauer is well aware of Harris’s skills.

“Trevor has been in big games,” said Steinauer. “He’s a champion. I’m sure they’re giving him more and more each week.

“He’s proven he can get the job done.”

Stanback led the league in both carries (193) and yards (1,176) despite missing two games with injuries. In the two regular-season games against Hamilton he was held to 99 yards and no touchdowns on 24 carries.

Offensive guard Kristian Matte, also named an East All-Star, said the Alouettes made too many mistakes in the first game but found some traction in the second.

“We tried to do some things different,” he said. “Some of it worked, some of it didn’t.

“The things that’s dangerous about us right now is that we also have a very efficient passer back there. We can do a little bit of everything right now. We’re just looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

The Tiger-Cats come into the game with the double edged sword of a stifling defence and an offence capable of putting points on the board.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli missed three games with a rib injury but still finished the year completing 188 of 271 passes for 2,445 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

He has a receiving corps that includes East All-Stars Tim White (56 catches for 774 yards, two touchdowns) and Jaelon Acklin (50 catches for 678 yards and four touchdowns).

“There’s no weak links,” said Masoli. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that go up and get the ball, fast guys that can beat you with their smarts.

“I think they’ve done a good job growing into what we need them to be, understanding defences.”

Linebacker Simoni Lawrence, end Ja’Gared Davis and tackle Dylan Wynn were among the six Tiger-Cats named to the East All-Star defensive team.

“Our defence did a great job of giving us an opportunity to win each week,” said Steinauer. “I really think that’s the job of a defence, it’s about making timely plays consistently.

“I feel like we’ve done that for the most part.”

Matte said the game will be won in the trenches.

“Everyone knows we like to run the ball and they know that they have stopped the run for most of the season,” he said. “The biggest test for us is to make sure we limit our mistakes, make sure that we run our game plan and make sure that we dictate how we want to play the game.

“For us to go out there be physical, be assignment sound, it gives us the best chance of success.”

Montreal linebacker Patrick Levels threw a little flame earlier this week when he guaranteed an Alouettes win and called out Masoli and Steinauer.

Lawrence wasn’t taking the bait.

“I don’t do that,” he said when asked if he would guarantee a win. “I just want to let people do what they do, what ever makes people feel good about life.

“I don’t think it’s bulletin board material. We’re all grown men. We’re going to get the chance to prove whatever on Sunday.”

AFI, Visaic and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Visaic and the Canadian Football League to present 2021 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

Watch the game live here. Montreal Alouettes @ Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Nov. 28, 19:00 CET (7 pm, 1 pm ET)

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