In a rematch of the 100th Grey Cup, the Toronto Argonauts host the Calgary Stampeders in the second game of a three game home stand for the Double Blue in Week 9 of the 2013 CFL season.
The Argos enter the matchup on a four game win streak as they narrowly edged the Eskimos in a 36-33 Week 8 victory. The win created some breathing space atop the East Division as the Argos are now four points clear of the second place Tiger-Cats.
In the West Division, Calgary took a step back last week as they had their four game win streak snapped with a loss at the hands of the B.C. Lions. Despite having an identical record as the Argos, the loss knocked the Stamps down to a second place tie with the Lions, two points behind the first place Riders.
Toronto Argonauts (5-2)
The Argos offence continued their dominance of late as the team scored over 30 points for the fourth consecutive game. Ricky Ray was nearly flawless once again, completing 30-of-35 pass attempts for 413 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His impressive game totals added to a stellar start to his 2013 campaign; his overall completion percentage sits at 78.1 in addition to his fourteen touchdowns and no interceptions. At this point, the case can be made that Ricky Ray is the best quarterback in the league.
In the win against Edmonton, Ray distributed the ball to eight different receivers which is always a formula for success. His newfound chemistry with John Chiles was on display as the rookie wide receiver hauled in five passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. In the slot, Chad Owens continued to be a difference maker by contributing 102 yards receiving and a touchdown of his own.
Considering that the game was a shootout, both teams abandoned the run game and did their damage through the air. Curtis Steele only carried the ball five times but he finished with a yards per carry average of 5.4. Since taking over for Kackert, Steele has made the most of his opportunities.
After showing significant improvement in the past three weeks, the Argos defence faltered against Edmonton. Several breakdowns in coverage led to big plays from the Eskimos, who threw for 511 yards against the Boatmen’s secondary. Another aspect that led to 33 points for the Esks is the lack of turnovers that the Argos generated. They will need to turn in a better performance against a high powered Stamps offence.
Calgary Stampeders (5-2)
Kevin Glenn has done an admirable job filling in for the injured Drew Tate. His stats don’t jump off the page but he has got the job done where it matters most; in the win column.
However, Calgary enters this game with injuries to key players starting to pile up. Veteran receiver Nik Lewis is expected to miss at least six games with a broken fibula. Through eight games, Lewis was the Stamps leading receiver with 400 yards and three touchdowns. With the inexperience behind him, it will be difficult to replace his production and leadership.
The Argos, who struggle against the run, might catch a break as Jon Cornish is listed as questionable with a thigh contusion. Cornish is second in the league in rushing, behind only Kory Sheets therefore this is could be a major blow for the Stamps offence. If Cornish is unable to suit up, Matt Walter will get the start out of the backfield.
Argonauts Keys To Victory
1) Tighten up on defence
Head Coach Scott Milanovich wasn’t pleased with the 511 yards the Argos surrendered through the air last week. Against a Calgary offence that can take advantage of breakdowns in the secondary, the Argos will need to take away the big play and potentially force turnovers in the process.
2) Take Jon Cornish out of the equation
The Argos have really struggled against the run this season, therefore it is crucial they don’t allow Cornish to get into a rhythm or the game could get out of reach in a hurry. Despite being a bit bruised, Cornish will likely suit up in this contest which means the Argos will have to game plan for him. Since the run defence hasn’t been successful, the Argos must score early in order to force Calgary to resort to pass in order to get back into the game.
3) Don’t fix what’s not broken
Toronto’s offence has been firing on all cylinders, therefore they shouldn’t make an adjustments. If Ray continues to play like he is capable of and by spreading the ball to different receivers, the offence will have no trouble putting points on the board.
Kickoff between the Argos and Stamps goes at 7:30 pm on Friday night. The Argos will also honour the 30th anniversary of the 1983 Grey Cup winning team and will wear their retro uniforms dawning the classic boat logo.