TORONTO – The rule of thumb in the Canadian Football League suggests that it often takes weeks, and in some cases, even months before a team can finally hit their stride offensively. However, that was not the case on Friday night as the Argonauts’ offence picked up right where they left off in 2012, defeating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 39 -34 in an offensive showdown.
“I thought we played well offensively for the most part,” stated Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich, as he assessed Friday’s performance. “We weren’t sure what we would be getting going in so we kind of prepared for everything from what we’ve seen Orlondo (Steinauer) do in the past to really watching our own defence with what Orlondo may have picked up from Chris (Jones). We just tried to stay in our comfort zone, do things that Ricky was good at and Kack was good at and figured we would find a way to execute if we were able to do that.”
Entering his second-year as the Argonauts’ bench boss, Scott Milanovich deferred his playcalling duties to newly anointed offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. Evidently, the decision paid dividends as the Argonauts’ offence racked up 489 yards while posting 39 points and holding off the Tiger-Cats in a tightly contested back-and-forth affair.
“Marcus called the plays tonight. That was a decision we made late in the week that I didn’t want to talk about because I didn’t want to give Orlondo any heads up to where he may have been watching Montreal’s offence more than ours”, explained Milanovich. “It’s a real comfortable feeling for me to have him beside me and with me because we think so similarly. I thought it went very smoothly.”
Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray is entering his 11th season in the Canadian Football League and has seen his fair share of high-scoring football games in recent years. However, Friday night’s contest even exceeded all of his personal expectations as the veteran pivot was still attempting to gauge the different schemes of the Tiger-Cats’ new-look defence.
“There wasn’t a lot to go off of them on film. You watch a little bit of pre-season and I just tried to get a feel for what their D-coordinator was like and how he has been in the past,” commented Ray, who is entering his second season as the Argonauts’ starting quarterback. “We put a game plan together and just adjusted to what they gave us as the game went on, but in this offence it’s just about making good decisions, getting the ball to guys that can make plays, and that’s what happened (out there).”
Ray was flawless in the victory as he completed 24-of-34 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
The 33-year-old veteran has proven to be successful in season opening games as he boasts a spectacular career passing percentage of 72.4 per cent over the course of his 10 opening day starts.
Ray’s most impressive quality stems from his ability to elevate the level of play of the individuals around him. The Argonauts quarterback connected with six different receivers on Friday night, furthering the notion that Ray is much more comfortable and confident in the Argonauts’ offence in 2013.
“He seemed in rhythm. He seemed good. He seemed like he picked up where he left off,” Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich, said of his signal caller.
Perhaps, the most impressive aspect of Friday night’s season opening victory was the contributions from a variety of individuals on the offensive side of the football. Chad Kackert rushed for 112 yards on just 10 carries while adding a 57-yard touchdown in the triumph.
Wide receiver Jason Barnes logged two touchdowns while Dontrelle Inman recorded the game-winning score late in the fourth quarter.
“We did some good things out there. You can see that we have some pretty explosive players offensively and for us, it always comes down to executing better”, said Ray. “There are times out there where we made some mistakes and could have kept drives going but overall we were able to make a lot of big plays.”
Meanwhile, the unsung hero in the triumph was wide receiver Spencer Watt, who played a significant role both offensively and on special teams. The fourth-year wide receiver recorded three receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. Watt, along with Dontrelle Inman, also assisted in the team’s kickoff and punting duties, stepping in for injured Argonauts kicker Swayze Waters.
“I don’t think I’ve been around to see anything like that. I’ve been around a long time so that was pretty cool to see those guys step in and do that”, stated Ray.
Efficiency-wise, the case can be made that Friday night’s offensive outburst was Ricky Ray’s best performance as a member of the Argonauts. Just one week into the 2013 CFL season and it appears that the Argonauts offence is clicking on all cylinders, which is certainly an encouraging sign as the team begins their pursuit of back-to-back Grey Cup titles.