The Toronto Argonauts host the Montreal Alouettes in the third game of a three game home stand and the first matchup of a home-and-home series with their division rivals.
With Week 10 of the 2013 CFL season underway, the race for the East division crown is beginning to heat up. The Argos remain in first with 10 points but the Alouettes trail by only two games and sit third. Hamilton has made things interesting as they have won three of their past four games to move within two points of the Double Blue.
For both the Argos and the Alouettes, this game is of the utmost importance. A Toronto victory would create some breathing space between the rest of the division while a loss would put them in a vulnerable position with a tough portion of the schedule upcoming. The Alouettes will be playing with some urgency in order to keep pace in the East.
Toronto Argonauts (5-3)
While it had a promising start, last week’s loss to the Stamps was a nightmare for Argos fans. Although Toronto lost the game, perhaps the most significant loss was that of quarterback Ricky Ray who will be sidelined for approximately six weeks with a right shoulder injury. What really makes this injury tough is that Ray was playing at a near flawless rate and was on pace to set career highs.
However, the team won’t benefit from dwelling on the past and must adjust to Zach Collaros at the helm. Despite the fact that his last two appearances in relief did not in-still much confidence, he led the Argos to a victory with a full week of preparation back in Week 5. Collaros beat the Lions in his first CFL start, completing 21-of-25 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Against the Als, the game plan shouldn’t be much different as the 25 year old found success spreading the football to a variety of different receivers as well as using his mobility to elude defenders and move the chains.
On defence, the Argos have returned to some of the bad habits that were evident early in the season. In the last two games they’ve surrendered 33 and 35 points respectively, making the responsibility of the offence a difficult one. The struggles against the run are especially concerning as they allowed 177 yards rushing to the Stamps last week even though Jon Cornish didn’t play. In turn, the inability to stop the run is leading to big plays in the passing game which has become an all too common theme. Without Ray, the offence will not be at its best, therefore its crucial that the defence keeps the Argos in the game and gives Collaros the opportunity to lead the team to victory.
Montreal Alouettes (3-5)
Despite edging the Lions 39-38 last week, Alouettes quarterback Tanner Marsh struggled mightily. The rookie finished 14-of-32 passing for 329 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. However, Marsh’s mobility was a big reason why the Als earned the victory as he led the team in rushing with 71 yards on 9 carries. The Argos need to focus on keeping Marsh contained and avoid letting him run for a large chunk of yards.
The addition of running back Jerome Messam payed its dividends for the Alouettes as he rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts. Even though the pass game is struggling, the run game is excelling and the Argos defence must figure out a way to end their woes against the run.
Look for Montreal to attack the Argos on the ground until the Double Blue prove that they have answer for it.
Argonauts Keys To Victory
1) Establish the run game
Curtis Steele rushed for an average of 8.5 yards per carry but was only handed the ball four times last week. The Argos need to get the run game going in order to take some of the pressure off of Collaros and make the offence multi-dimensional.
2) Stop the run
Both keys to victory revolve around the run game but that is where the Argos have struggled the most this season. Marsh hasn’t had much success as a passer thus far, therefore the Als will likely look to move the chains on the ground early to prevent the Boatmen’s defence from discovering any type of rhythm.
Kickoff between the Argos and Alouettes goes Tuesday at 7:30 pm ET at Rogers Centre.