TORONTO – Pinch yourself…. It’s here! The games matter, the playbooks are open, and the starters play the entire game! Yes, the CFL regular season is finally here and the Double Blue will be kicking off in a “home” tilt against the Edmonton Eskimos. The game is part of the Northern Kickoff, meaning it will count as an Argos home game, but in reality, the game will be played in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Boatmen will have thier work cut out for them as they take on an Eskimos team that finished second in the West Division in 2014, and went 2-0 during the 2015 pre-season. The Argos, in contrast, missed the playoffs in 2014 and finished the pre-season with a respectable 1-1 record. It may be good news, however, that the Argos won their road game in the pre-season, seeing as they do not play a real home game until August. Seeing as the Northen Kickoff is essentially a road game, it will be a crucial benchmark for temporary starting pivot Trevor Harris, which transition’s us into our five storylines to watch heading into Saturday’s season opener.
1. Trevor Harris… For Four Quarters.
Quarterbacks, quarterbacks, quarterbacks. It can get redundant, but can quarterback play really be overstated in the three-down game? How about when the quarterback is filling in for arguably the best quarterback in the CFL – for six games? Trevor Harris looked good in limited action during the pre-season, but this is a totally new ball game. There will be more blitz packages and tighter coverage, and Trevor Harris has to deal with it, not for just one quarter or 30 minutes, but for all four frames. How he deals with it could be the difference between a playoff berth or missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
2. Dipping into Their Heritage
The Northern Kickoff counts as an Argo home game, but for all intents and purposes, it’s an Double Blue road trip. The game is being played in Alberta which, for those fans who never majored in geography, is the province Edmonton is in. Seeing as the Double Blue is looking down a long scope of road games, the Boatmen may have to resemble their name sakes, Jason’s Argonauts who went on a harrowing journey to find the Golden Fleece, or in Toronto’s case, the Grey Cup.
3. Chad Owens
Who doesn’t enjoy watching Chad Owens play football? He’s easily one of the most electrifying receivers in the Canadian Football League. After moving to Canada full time, it would be safe to assume Owens has a new focus and desire in Toronto, which should scare every other defence in the CFL.
4. Brandon Whitaker
The former Alouettes running back may be new to Toronto, but he’s not exactly new to the Argos. As a member of the Alouettes, Whitaker played under current Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich, taking handoff’s from Marcus Brady, now the Argos’ offensive coordinator. The Double Blue offence is incredibly similiar to the one Whitaker thrived in with Montreal, so it will be interesting to see how the journeyman fares in a new city.
“Defence wins championships”!!! It may sound cliche, but year in and year out, the old adage holds true. As much as Trevor Harris has been talked about, it would be criminally unrealistic to expect him to put up Ricky Ray-like numbers. With the offence limited for the first six weeks of the season, the onus will be placed upon the Double Blue defence to keep the Good Ship Argonaut afloat.
Written By: Chris Zorbas