Which will produce the biggest challenge?
BY: Jeff Schneberk @Game7overtime
If anyone on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats spent any time wondering why the Roughriders chose to practice indoors, albeit in Moose Jaw yesterday, they found out real fast at Taylor Field yesterday.
For players such as RB CJ Gable, K Josh Bartel and a handful of others, Taylor Field probably felt like a far-off another planet, deep in the depths of nowhere.
Gable played in some of his biggest college games waaaaay down south at the University of Southern California, while kicker Bartel comes to Canada from Australia.
The temperature at Taylor yesterday was listed as minus-16 but it felt like minus-28. A light snowfall made it the turf look festive but it was downright nasty at field level under an overcast sky.
NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE: Funny enough, the only experience Gable has that could even compare to Saskatchewan was his football game against Notre Dame.
“When I played against Notre Dame, it was cold. But not like this.”
Said Bartel: “The first two seconds were good. And then I couldn’t feel my feet.”
The forecast for Sunday is improved, with a daytime high of minus-one and low of minus-12.
Head Coach Kent Austin insisted the cold will not be an issue for his team come Sunday.
“The Eastern semifinal (in Guelph) wasn’t exactly a balmy day. It was pretty rough. Our guys have played in bad weather.
“This is for a championship. We can all weather three hours of cold weather, that’s not a big deal.”
HEATERS ‘N NOISEMAKERS: In addition to working out in the cold, the Ticats piped in blaring crowd noise into the empty stadium to get ready for the din of the Saskatchewan crowd Sunday.
Veteran offensive lineman Marwan Hage says he expects hard and slippery conditions, with the game coming down to ball security and fundamental football. But the hulking six-foot-two 291-pounder wasn’t about to complain about the conditions, saying the team had handled the weather well in practice. “It was a little cold, but it’s cold for everybody,” he said cheerfully. “It’ll be cold for the other team.”
“It’s Canada,” he added.
That truism was of little help to the team’s Aussie, who was trying to see the glass half-full.
“Both teams have got to deal with it,” he said stoically before adding: “I’ll probably be spending a fair bit of time in front of the heater.”