5 Yards Off The Ball: Argonauts at Roughriders
Toronto – The Argonauts are undefeated. Yes they’ve only played one game, but that was one game most fans didn’t believe they stood much of a chance. However, those fans were wrong, very wrong. The Argonauts for the better part of the game, dominated the Edmonton Eskimos in a 26-11 win in Fort McMurray. If the Argos hope to continue this win streak and keep up their mantra of being Road Warriors, then these 5 keys will likely be the focus during the game.
1. Kevin Glenn vs. Trevor Harris
Even though these men will never be on the field at the same time versus one another, the two QB’s will likely have a huge impact on the game’s outcome and ultimate winner. The two pivots could not be more opposite heading into Sunday’s game at Mosaic. Kevin Glenn is a 15 year veteran who has attempted over 5300 career passes, whereas Trevor Harris made only his second start ever last week in just his fourth season in the CFL. The veteran presence of Glenn in a fairly stacked Roughrider offense should give Saskatchewan the edge, but Harris is coming off an unbelievable performance vs Edmonton and has the trust of the entire Argonaut organization behind him. Its likely safe to say whichever QB plays better will get their team the victory.
2. Ricky Foley’s Return to Saskatchewan
Three months to the day after wining the 100th Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts and earning the Most Valuable Canadian award, Foley left the Argos in free agency for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. While there for two seasons, Foley had great success winning another Grey Cup and recording 20 sacks as well as 99 tackles. This Sunday Foley returns to Regina just a few months after they traded him to Toronto for LB Shea Emry. At the time of the trade Foley was completely caught off guard as he had made a home for himself in Saskatchewan. But now, Foley will be looking to energize and lead a defense against his former team and more specifically lining up against LT Xavier Fulton. There is no question Foley will be motivated this weekend to try and make a big impact on the game, but more importantly, get the win.
3. Argos Secondary vs. Roughriders WR’s
Despite the Roughriders now playing their backup QB Kevin Glemm (who is basically a starter no matter where he goes), the Argos should expect a lot of passes and to be tested deep. The Riders have a lot of talent at the WR position starting with mainstays Rob Baggs, Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf. They also added a former Montreal Alouette this off-season in Jamal Richardson who is known for his spectacular catches. The deep threat of this group is second year man Taj Smith who caught a 36 yard touchdown in last week’s loss to Winnipeg. This very diverse group will go up against a raw but tenacious Argos secondary who held Mike Reilly to just 170 yards last week. They are lead by S Jermain Gabriel who continues to get praise from Argos Head Coach, Scott Milanovich, saying he is one of the best defenders in the league. Last week Argos corner backs A.J Jefferson and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah got their feet wet with live CFL action, but they face an even tougher test Sunday with this veteran group in Saskatchewan. How the secondary handles themselves should go a long way in deciding who comes out on top.
4. Argos Run Game vs. Saskatchewan’s defense
About two weeks ago the Argos RB position looked bleak at best. Curtis Steele was dealing with an injury and the only other backs on the roster were rookies or were splitting time at WR as well (Anthony Coombs). Fast-forward to today and all reservations should be gone with the recent signings of veterans Chad Kackert and Brandon Whitaker. The latter rushed for 117 yards and had 57 receiving yards with 1 touchdown in his Argo debut vs. Edmonton last week. That kind of performance is sure to ignite an offense and was a big reason QB Trevor Harris was able to have such a successful day. On the other side, the Saskatchewan Roughriders allowed just shy of 150 rushing yards on just 25 carries. The bulk of those yards came from the relatively unknown Paris Cotton of the Blue-Bombers. If Brandon Whitaker can have similar success against Saskatchewan, this should take a lot of pressure of Harris and the rest off the offense and help the Argos control the game and crowd noise at Mosaic.
5. Argos Kicking game
In my Season Preview I mentioned the sure-footed Swayze Waters and how his presence on Special Teams can help the coaching staff sleep easier at night. Well for the next month or so they may be up longer at night now that Waters is dealing with a hip flexor injury. Swayze got hurt in the Argos Home Opener and so the Boatmen relied on veteran Dave Stala to handle kicking duties. He did quite admirably considering the circumstances. However, the Argos felt it was best Stala focused solely on offence, so they signed National Kicker, Ronnie Pfeffer, who had attended training camp with the Ottawa REDBLACKS. Pfeffer, a Kitchener, Ont native played University football at Wilfrid Laurier. Head Coach Scott Milanovich has said he will handle all kicking duties this weekend and he has the full trust of the team behind him. The kicking game can play such an important role in the CFL, with many games coming down to field goals and field position. Pfeffer has big shoes to fill but he sounds ready to go, knowing this could be the audition he needs to solidify himself as a CFL kicker. Knowing the way this great game works, don’t be surprised if this game comes down to a field goal try for the Argos.
Written by: Aaron McMillan
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