Toronto – The Motors are running and we are headed down the highway all the way to BMO Field for the first Preseason game and first game of CFL Football on the Exhibition grounds since 1988. The Mistake by the Lake is no more. Saturday June 11, 2016 marks the official move in date for the Toronto Argonauts into BMO Field just 3 KM down the Gardiner.
#NewBeginnings is definitely a fitting mantra for 2016: New Ownership, New Home and a New Season. The Preseason is where it all gets revved up. Looking at Saturdays tilt against the QEW Rival Hamilton Ticats we are less concerned with the Keys to Victory and more with the Internal Battles.
The Arms Race
Logan Kilgore will start the game and get his chance to show he’s the guy that will drive the boat when Ricky Ray is ready to hand over the keys. Ray’s name is etched in stone as the regular season starter but will see some playing time. Ray has said this is the first time in a few years he’s felt 100% Healthy, so Saturdays appearance should be brief, no more than 2 series according to Head Coach Scott Milanovich. Joining Kilgore in the battle for the seat behind Ray are Veteran Adrian MacPherson and Rookie Cody Fajardo out of Nevada.
It’s not likely this battle will end until the final cut down day on June 19, but it will go a long way to show Milanovich and General Manager Jim Barker who sees more snaps in the final week of training camp and the second preseason game on June 17 in Montreal.
The Golden Boot
With the departure of Swayze Waters to the NFLs Carolina Panthers, the kicking duties are up for grabs. Lirim Hajrullahu arrived in Toronto in Free Agency via the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in hopes of securing the role. After a shaky first day, the man with the hardest name to on the team has settled down and proved the inconsistencies that drove him out of favour in the Peg are behind him. Both Milanovich and Special Teams Coordinator Kelly Jeffery have praised his work ethic and punting abilities. And no one is mentioning that he is 2 for 2 when Team Ice Cream is on the line.
Kach Medeiros, Hajrullahu’s successor at Western was brought in to challenge him for the job. Medeiros, a former Edmonton Eskimos draft pick, showed early promise and caught the eye of many in attendance at the first day of training camp. Both will see action against the Ticats this weekend.
Securing the Vault
When you offense is built around your QB, then main function of the OL and RBs is to protect the money maker. The Argos saw this as a priority in the off-season when they brought in Josh Bourke from Montreal and Corey Watman from Saskatchewan through free agency. Then again on draft day when they took 3 O-Lineman.
The coaches have instilled protection as the number one attribute for the Running Backs. That is even more apparent when a rookie free agent RB Edwin Baker was asked about the transition to the Canadian game by Argos TV. Baker listed protecting the QB as his primary job as a running back.
Tick Tick Boom!
Explosions in the regular are synonymous with a quick burst of points on the score board. In Preseason you look for individuals to make explosive plays using their own skill. Let’s face it, we are not going to see many offensive wrinkles or crazy stunt defenses so it’s up to the players to showcase their talents all using the same basic canvas.
On offence players like Kenny Shaw need to show the coaches the highlight reel hes recorded on the practice field is more than just practice. On the other side of the ball explosions come from big hits, timely stops, shut down coverage and sacks.
Party! Party! Party!
Players aren’t the only ones that are keys this week. We the fans need to get our game in gear too. Saturday is our test run to show the league Toronto knows how to party. We’ve got our chance to tailgate, we’ve got our new stadium, we’ve got everything we want. Let’s have fun and show the league that it really is a new beginning in the Big Smoke.
Like a true natures child, we were born, born to be wild!