Ticats coach Steinauer not about to change approach heading into East Final

Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer knows full well what Trevor Harris did in the East Division semifinal but isn't going to spend the week focusing on the Edmonton Eskimos quarterback ahead of Sunday's East Final.

Hamilton hosts Eskimos on Sunday but no crossover team has ever reached Grey Cup

Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer says he isn't going to spend the week focusing on Eskimos quarterback Trevor Harris. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Orlondo Steinauer knows full well what Trevor Harris did in the CFL East Division semifinal but isn't going to spend the week focusing on the Edmonton quarterback.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach will prepare for the East Final against the visiting Eskimos on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET like he has for every other game this season: concentrating on his team.

"As people have heard from Day 1 at McMaster [start of Ticats training camp], we're going to focus on ourselves," Steinauer said. "We're definitely going to put a game plan together that we feel gives us the best chance to beat Edmonton and we're aware of their strengths and where we think we can attack them in all three phases.

"But the majority of our focus will remain on ourselves, our execution and our mindset."

It's an approach that's certainly worked as Hamilton (15-3) posted the CFL's top regular-season record. The Ticats were also a stellar 9-0 at Tim Hortons Field and swept the season series with Edmonton 2-0.

The Eskimos advanced to the East final with a 37-29 road win over the Montreal Alouettes on Sunday. Harris finished 36-of-39 passing for 421 yards with a touchdown and interception as Edmonton had the ball for over 36 minutes.

Harris was especially sharp in the first half, completing 22 straight passes — one short of the league record held by Hamilton's Jeremiah Masoli — before finishing 23-of-24 passing for 257 yards and a TD as Edmonton rolled up 306 offensive yards.

With Harris under centre, Edmonton was very methodical in taking its 25-19 half-time lead. The Eskimos had the ball for 21 minutes while mounting touchdown drives of 88, 80 and 83 yards.

But the Ticats should be very well rested come the opening kickoff. They had last week off and will play on their home field.

The Eskimos, who secured the crossover after finishing fourth in the West Division with an 8-10 record, are the proverbial road warriors. After travelling to Montreal, Edmonton returned home following the win then must return East to visit the Ticats.

Hamilton is chasing its first Grey Cup win in 20 years

And history isn't on Edmonton's side as no crossover team has ever reached the Grey Cup.

"I think there is a little advantage in that our body clocks are going to be what they are," said Steinauer, who'll make his playoff debut as a CFL head coach Sunday. "Does that matter once the ball is kicked off? I'm not so sure.

"Playing on the road, everybody understands that anything can happen and this league has proven that there's a lot of parity and if you're not prepared and don't execute you can get beat. While I do think it's an advantage to having the bye week and playing at home, it's only going to prove to be an advantage if you come out with the win."

Edmonton is the fifth crossover team to move on to the Division final. And at 3-1, the Eskimos are the only team with a winning record as a crossover but are 21-30 overall as the road playoff squad.

Hamilton is appearing in the East final for the fifth time in seven years and last hosted the game in 2014. The Ticats have a 28-17 home playoff record and Eastern teams are 32-13 as the home team in the title game.

Hamilton is also chasing its first Grey Cup since 1999. Steinauer was a defensive back on that team, which was coached by the late Ron Lancaster.

But Steinauer said all of those stats are moot because the bottom line is the team that executes best will be victorious.

"It's a one-and-done game and you understand the magnitude of it," he said. "It's different than any other game … but it's still played with the same amount of minutes, the same yard maker and those sorts of things."


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