In just three games the five-foot-11, 195-pound Grigsby has emerged as a bona fide rushing threat in a predominately pass-oriented offence. And that's something the Montreal Alouettes must account for Sunday in the East Division final at Tim Hortons Field.
Grigsby has 146 yards rushing since joining the Ticats on Oct. 21 after being released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. But Grigsby had 93 yards and a TD on 19 carries in a 29-15 home win over Montreal on Nov. 8 that clinched Hamilton first in the East Division and home-field advantage for the conference finale.
And the swirling winds at Tim Hortons Field combined with the likelihood of rain Sunday could make Grigsby an important contributor for the Ticats, who are looking to secure a second straight Grey Cup berth. Hamilton lost last year's title game 43-25 to the hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders.
"The running game in the playoffs is very important," Grigsby said. "You just can't throw the ball all four quarters.
"You've got to establish the run to win the game. You've got to establish that presence, move the ball, move the chains and hold the ball."
Hamilton was ranked sixth overall in rushing (91.2 yards per game) despite posting the second-fewest carries (304). By comparison, the Ticats attempted 622 passes, second only to the Toronto Argonauts (681).
A balanced offence is much more challenging to defend than one that's one-dimensional. But when the weather turns cold and windy — and impacts the passing game — being able to run effectively becomes crucial.
"The more versatile you can be, especially this time of year, the better," said Ticats head coach/GM Kent Austin. "If you have multi-facets to your offence that they have to defend, it's not just the production but it's also the adjustments that have to be made that may buy you time with respect to staying ahead in the gameplan and playcalling."
The run game was certainly important for Montreal in its 50-17 East Division semifinal win over the B.C. Lions last weekend. The Alouettes rushed for over 200 yards and four TDs in the contest.
"They rely on the run game and getting the ball to their playmakers," Austin said. "We understand we've got to be stout against the run."
Hamilton's defence has been tough to run against all season, allowing a league-low 76.8 yards per game. The Ticats also held Montreal to just 17 rushing yards in their last matchup.
"The key is just to be disciplined," said Ticats' linebacker Simoni Lawrence. "You have to trust everybody around you . . . and just make plays when it's time to make plays.
"Last weekend, I thought Montreal did a great job making plays. B.C. was caught off guard a little bit, they weren't where they were supposed to be and with Montreal you have to be very disciplined and do what you have to do."
Lawrence said Hamilton's defensive gameplan Sunday will be a simple one.
"It's to play as hard as we can, take care of our business and understand we're a good enough team that if we play our best we're going to win," he said. "As long as we prepare, there shouldn't be any pressure.
"Pressure is only for people who don't come prepared and I feel we do a great job of preparing for games."
And after roughly a month in Hamilton's offence, Grigsby says he's feeling more comfortable these days.
"There's less pressure than jumping in right away with all the expectations," he said. "It loosens you up now that you get the feel of your offensive linemen up front and the game slows down a little bit.
"It relaxes you and lets you just play."
Grigsby said establishing the run creates two advantages for an offence: It keeps a defence on its heels while setting up other elements of the offensive gameplan.
"It opens a lot up because the defence must pick its poison," Grigsby said. "It must come down in the box or sit back and defend against the pass because we have great players on that side with Speedy (Brandon Banks), Sink (Terrell Sinkfield), Bakari (Bakari Grant), Task (Luke Tasker) and Fantuz (Andy Fantuz).
"We have many guys who can open stuff up."
However, Grigsby said it all starts with quarterback Zach Collaros and Hamilton's offensive line.
"Zach is very mobile so that takes a lot of pressure off us that he makes plays on his own," he said. "Our offensive line is also starting to come together right now, they know what's at stake, they're hungry up there and it's good to have that."
But Montreal held B.C. to just 102 yards passing with two interceptions last weekend. Defensive back Jerald Brown had one of the picks and a 104-yard fumble return for a TD.
"Montreal's defence will be physical so you have to strap up every play and be ready to go," Grigsby said. "If you're not, they're going to hit you in the mouth.
"Of course we're going to take the positives (from Nov. 8 win) but we'll also take the negatives and evaluate them and see what we have to do to get better . . . we must execute no matter what."Suggest a correction