TORONTO – The CFL is entertaining, isn’t it? Especially the first week, so many new, fresh storylines, teams are optimistic about their chances and everything is just right in the world, right? Wrong. Week One of the CFL season was an absolute disaster, with multiple starting quarterbacks going down. Now, one would logically think Toronto was immune to the Divine wrath of whatever entity was hungering for CFL flesh, after all they paid their sacrifice in full by placing Ricky Ray on the six-game injured list. Well, again, wrong. Apparently Toronto also owed an All-Star kicker/punter as well. So what happens now? Well one can not simply just go about replacing a player like Swayze Waters, so in the meantime, the Argos’ special teams unit will have to tread water and stay afloat while their All-Star kicker heals (he’s expected to miss four to six weeks).
The Argos (and the entire CFL, the way the season is going) are going to have to adopt the “next man up” mantra. Trevor Harris did this, and now whomever the Boatmen sign at the kicker position will have to do the same, because after all,
“The guy we sign is paid to do his (Waters’) job.” said Milanovich in an interview with the Toronto Sun.
However, it is not that simple. Waters is an All-Star punter, a deadly accurate kicker, and by all accounts, an influential leader in the locker room. The chances of signing another one of him off the street is equivalent to the chances of winning the lottery.
Last year, Waters hit 47 of his 53 field goal attempts, good for 88%, and converted on all 42 of his P.A.T attempts. Six total misses over an 18-game season is no easy feat for a good kicker, let alone one signed off the streets. In his 2014 campaign, Waters had an average punting yardage of 48 yards, good for first in the CFL. Swayze also led the league in total kick points with 184.
Toronto was able to escape feeling the sting of Waters’ departure agaisnt Edmonton due to a superhuman effort put forth by Trevor Harris. In relief of Waters, wide receiver Dave Stala did an admirable job, averaging 35.5 yards per punt and connecting on his point-after attempts.
However, against a good Roughriders squad, the Argos are vulnerable in terms of red zone options with Waters out, opting not to go for long field goals that would be considered chip shots for the All-Star kicker. On the lone field goal they did attempt, their doubts were confirmed, as Stala missed.
The Riders lost by one point last week, and will be looking to maybe end up on the other side of a close game, this in turn places a premium on points that should be converted *ahem* field goals.
“We have to find a way” said Milanovich to the Toronto Sun, and on Sunday, the Argos must find that way.
To help keep the kicking game tread above water, the Argos signed national kicker Ronnie Pfeffer. The Kitchener native and Wilfrid Laurier grad, spent training camp with the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Pfeffer will handle all kicking duties when our boys invade Mosaic Stadium on Sunday.
Written by: Chris Zorbas