Week 3 Preview: Riders vs. Argos

After a loss evened their record to 1-1, the Toronto Argonauts head back home to host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 3 action.

The Argos will be playing with a sense of urgency in order to rebound from a disappointing performance against the Lions and avoid falling below .500 on the season. The Double Blue will also be striving for their fifth consecutive victory at the Rogers Centre.

Saskatchewan on the other hand is coming off dominating wins against Edmonton and Calgary to open the campaign and they will be looking to continue their undefeated run to start 2013.

Toronto Argonauts (1-1)

In a season that’s only two weeks old we’ve already seen two vastly different versions of the Argonauts offence. The team was able to ride the momentum in the opener on route to recording five offensive touchdowns in a victory, however the single offensive touchdown scored in Week 2 was not enough to leave Vancouver with a win.

Quarterback Ricky Ray can breathe a sigh of relief as one of his favourite targets, Dontrelle Inman, will make his return after missing last week’s game due to injury. The Argos are at their best when spreading the ball to their top play makers Dontrelle Inman and Chad Owens along with the duo of Jason Barnes and Spencer Watt, therefore the offence will receive a boost with all four on the field.

Re-establishing the run game with Chad Kackert will also be crucial against the Roughriders. After exploding for 112 yards against Hamilton, Kackert was limited to 20 yards on the ground against the Lions. A good run game will also create more opportunities to excel in the passing game as the opposition will be need to account for multi-dimensional offence.

The young Argos defence will face their toughest test of the season against Saskatchewan’s top ranked offence. After struggling to get pressure on the quarterback, Toronto’s front seven has recorded five sacks in the last five quarters. When comparing the performance of the secondary against Hamilton and B.C. its evident that the number of missed coverages has been reduced. Forcing turnovers will also be a point of emphasis entering this matchup as the team only has one take away on the season, a Jalil Carter interception against the Lions. The unit as a whole has made significant strides and that will need to continue in Week 3.

Saskatchewan Roughriders (2-0)

With two weeks in the books, the Roughriders have been the best team in the CFL both offensively and defensively. One of the most underrated players in the league-Riders quarterback Darian Durant-leads the CFL in touchdown passes with 5 and is one of two signal callers yet to throw an interception, the other being Ricky Ray. Durant’s top two targets also happen to be two of the top three pass catchers in the league, Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf. Stopping this duo of experienced receivers will be a difficult task for the Argos defence but a crucial one if they are to emerge victorious.

Although a lot of defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones’ focus will be on stopping the high powered Riders offence, the Argos will also be responsible for containing the league’s top running back, Kory Sheets. After setting a personal record for rushing yards in a game in Week 1 with 131, Sheets set a new career high in Week 2 when he torched the Stamps for 133 yards on the ground.

In addition to possessing the best offence thus far, the Riders defence has allowed the fewest points in the league. While the secondary has been stout to start the season as they have accumulated four interceptions in two games, the Riders run defence has been just as good. In their last contest, the Riders front seven limited the usually effective Stamps running back Jon Cornish to just 42 yards on 8 carries.

An interesting storyline to follow throughout the course of the game will be the return of the 100th Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Canadian, Ricky Foley, to Toronto where he spent the past three years of his career.

Argonauts Keys To Victory

Kory Sheets has made the difference in both of Saskatchewan’s victories, therefore it is critical that the Argos find a way to stop him and make the Riders offence one dimensional in the process. In order to accomplish this the Argos run defence will need a bounce back performance after failing to contain Andrew Harris last week.

Teams haven’t had much success against the Riders defence thus far because Saskatchewan has done an excellent job of eliminating at least one element from the opposition’s offence either the pass or run game. For the Argos to exploit Saskatchewan both Ricky Ray and Chad Kackert need to be on their game. Establishing a run game early will draw some of the attention of the Riders defenders which can provide Ray with quality opportunities to find his top targets down field.

Limiting the amount of penalties taken throughout the course of the game will also be key for the Argos in this matchup. Head Coach Scott Milanovich wasn’t pleased with the eight penalties his players took last week compared to only one penalty from the Lions. As a result, any type of momentum the Argos gained was quickly negated.

Kickoff between the Argonauts and Roughriders goes this Thursday at 7:30 pm EST at the Rogers Centre. Be sure to watch the game live on TSN or listen on TSN 1050 Radio.

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