All Hands(QBs) On Deck for the Final Run!

In a year where the CFL has seen the emergence of the next generation of Quarter-Backs it’s the Toronto Argos who started the story line this season with a great unknown at QB in Trevor Harris who are now looking for their QBs to make a good season even greater and host an Eastern play-off game.

The key is always going to be the men who line-up under the centre and the current Argos QBs have the chance to contribute in the final eight game seasons.  It’s not often in football you can look at all three of your QBs and expect them all to contribute and that is what makes the CFL its own unique brand of football.   As the CFL season heads into Fall the Argos have some work to do.

When Trevor Harris stays in the pocket…

One big theme teams have picked up on is that Trevor Harris is not the quickest QB when it’s time to step up and leave the pocket.  You’d be surprised to know that Harris’s 27 rushing attempts and 113 yards on the ground are pretty good numbers when you compare him to other QBs.  The challenge though is that a Zach Collaros or Bo Levi Mitchell type QB have the ability to use their running games to freeze LBs and DBs who can get stuck in no man’s land.  Another great character for QBs like Collaros and Mitchell has been creating a passing opportunity by turning a possible sack into a second chance and making a pass play on the run.  At this point Trevor Harris has exceeded expectations but that doesn’t mean the product of Edinboro in NCAA II Football isn’t ready to make changes to go from good to great in the CFL.  In his last NCAA season in 2009 he showed a willingness to run for 370 yards on 112 attempts. The CFL game is faster and that running aspect has made good QBs great by scrambling or dancing at the line of scrimmage to create some big plays.  It’s a comfort level where your offensive coordinator can’t really scheme a play for you , improvising and creating a great play comes with playing experience and in the case of Argo QBs from the past it’s about running for your life and taking that last look at a pass option which was a great trait of Matt Dunigan.

When Ricky Ray plays …

Eventually the Argos want to have more than just one QB ready to go.  When do you bring in Ricky Ray the eventual CFL Hall of Famer?  Best case scenario, the Argos put a beat down on a team and he gets his game timing back.  The great vision he has displayed in his career will still be there, and he’s a veteran waiting to get back in the line-up so he is not going to jeopardize his shoulder.  If it’s not healthy then he’s not throwing footballs plain and simple, he wouldn’t rush back to hurt himself or his team.   Worst case scenario, is the Argos are losing big in a game and Ricky Ray steps behind the #1s on offence.  You would not put him in with the subs in a blow-out so he needs the #1 offensive line when he gets into the game.  Ricky Ray will be needed at some point this year and you would hope that he gets valuable game time to get in sync with the new receivers that have meshed well with Trevor Harris.  He’s also considered to be a player-coach.  If he’s not playing then his work on the sidelines and in video sessions can be almost Anthony Calvillo like.

When Adrian McPherson comes in…

We know the former Seminole is a short yards specialist.  He’s being doing it his entire career and from 2008 to 2012 his CFL rushing average bounced between 3.4 yards to 5.9 yards.  In his return to the CFL in 2015 the bigger, bulkier McPherson and the Argos front line has suffered from what other CFL teams have struggled with and that is the inability to gain short yards.  A total of 11 rushes for 1.4 yards an attempt is not the short yard specialist that Coach Scott Milanovich had banked on.  What is also a challenge is that his 6 pass attempts haven’t scared the defence into thinking there is anything but a QB sneak (hard to call is a sneak when the QB is bigger than defensive players) on the way.  A key may be to get him in on a 2nd and short and drop back and make a big pass attempt.  If it doesn’t work then you go for it on 3rd and 1.  It may sound simple but his game has become very predictable.

When coaches burn the midnight oil…

It’s no secret that Head Coach Scott Milanovich and Offensive Coordinator Marcus Brady are smart CFL coaches.  Looking at what Milanovich did in Montreal and then the development of Zach Collaros and Trevor Harris and you know that Argo QBs have all the resources to be successful.  The coaches in Double Blue now have eight games to add those special wrinkles to the offence that will keep teams and their defensive coordinators on edge.  It’s never been a radical game plan or college football like trickery but now that teams have a fair amount of game footage it will be up to the Brady and Milanovich to add to a playbook that was scaled back so that Trevor Harris could get comfortable in the season of being a starter.

The Argos season has hinged on the start of Trevor Harris and the team’s ability to be road warriors.  At this point the team is 6-4 and has set their sights on making the Tiger-Cats earn the top spot in the East.  All three of the QBs will have a say in the success of the Boatmen and that success can make the last year at the Dome a memorable one.

By Peter T. Kourtis

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