BY:Jeff Schneberk @Game7overtime
Sex before Game Day, snow on the field during practice and temperatures drop below minus-15 degrees Celsius. Sounds like a typical November for CFL football, except of course the sex part, but that is what the first two days of Grey Cup week have been like, at least for members of the Hamilton squad, some of whom have never seen or played in snow before on the football field.
Upon arriving at Regina airport on Tuesday night, Hamilton QB said something about how a lot of the players have BCS game experience under their belts so they know what it’s like playing games in front of 10s of 1000s of people, but guys like CJ Gable and Bakari Grant are not so much used to Canadian things like throwing snowballs during practice or not being able to feel their fingers and toes.
“They told me about it but I was like ‘OK, it can’t be that bad, but I was wrong.”
Nobody this season has seen any Ticats player doing interview with hoodies on underneath their jerseys but that was the sigh on Wednesday at Taylor Field.
“I didn’t know there was different types of snow so I had to add my own mix and they were good after that,” Grant said. “Just a little bit of water, a little bit of Gatorade to give his colour and you hit people in the back of the head with them. Money.”
With a younger group of Ticat players on the roster, a lot of them are from Florida, Texas and Louisiana, Head Coach Kent Austin opted to stay outdoors and start getting ready for the playing conditions right now. The Roughriders took their practicing to Moose Jaw-and Austin could have done that too-but wanted and needed to get the getting-used-to process started right away.
See some of the practice here: https://vine.co/v/hFe1TOH0ueY
Ticat offensive tackle Joel Figueroa is from Miami and it will be reasonable to assume that he wasn’t exactly in his comfort zone either.
“It was great. I don’t have any problem with cold, I run hot so it was just a fun experience for me,” Figueroa “Growing up in Miami, you see all the white Christmases on TV, everybody playing in snow, and I never had the opportunity. So I kind of feel like a little kid out here.”
While the lineman on both sides of the ball seemed mostly satisfied with the field conditions and their footing, the skill guys were already making adjustments. Gable changed shoes about 20 minutes into practice and said he may have to alter his approach.
“This is not what I’m used to, I’ve never played in the snow before so I have to change up my running style some. I can’t do a lot of moves because it’s kind of slippery,” Gable said. “I’ll need to take short choppy steps instead of long strides and try not to cut that much.”
For quarterback Henry Burris, however, it will be business as usual. Burris played nine seasons in Calgary – another place not known for balmy Novembers – and still lives there in the off-season. He was asked to give the conditions a rating out of 10.
“I wore just one layer so for me it was about six,” Burris said. “I feel great about playing in this weather.”
Austin didn’t rule out taking practice indoors at some point this week, though the game day forecast features a daytime high of minus-one and low of minus-12. Kickoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. local time.
The Ticats will have a curfew during Grey Cup week in Regina – but it doesn’t sound like they’ll need it.
Players will be expected to be in their rooms by midnight each night – and likely a little earlier on Saturday – and while head coach Kent Austin said the coaching staff may knock on some doors, he doesn’t think it will be an issue.
“I’m not a big rules guy. If you have to have a lot of rules and enforce them all the time, you’ve got the wrong guys,” Austin said.
Brian Bulcke said the only night he plans to be out is Thursday, when he will attend the CFL Players Awards in support of most outstanding rookie nominee C.J. Gable and most outstanding special teams player Marc Beswick. Other than that…
Defensive end Brandon Boudreaux said he won’t have a problem keeping his mind on football.
“From what I understand, there are no distractions in Regina because there is nothing to do there, whatsoever,” he said.