Sports Toronto Argos as they face winless Ottawa Redblacks in rare Sunday night kickoff
Redblacks, Alouettes meet in clash of CFL teams desperate for a win
Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Caleb Evans says every week is a big week when you're still looking for your first win. The Redblacks (0-5-0) will host the Montreal Alouettes (1-4-0), who are coming off a disappointing 32-31 loss to Edmonton, for a Thursday matchup of two teams eager for a win. With starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli on the sidelines with an injury, the Redblacks will be turning to Evans once again this week. "It’s a big week,The Redblacks (0-5-0) will host the Montreal Alouettes (1-4-0), who are coming off a disappointing 32-31 loss to Edmonton, for a Thursday matchup of two teams eager for a win.
In the game within the game, Sunday’s tilt between the winless Redblacks and an Argos team riding a two-game win streak will be decided in the trenches.
Football games are often decided on the line of scrimmage, but this battle of physical and mental will becomes heightened following injuries to the home side and the desperation the visitors will bring to the table.
The Argos have been forced to move veteran Philip Blake to left tackle, the all-import blind side, will have rookie Gregor Mackellar make his first start at guard, while the team holds its collective breath that centre Justin Lawrence won’t snap the ball that goes awry.
It was wild and crazy, but the Alouettes somehow found a way to beat the winless Redblacks
OTTAWA — It was a game that had a bit of everything, including plenty of scoring and big plays, along with some dubious officiating. And the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds. The Alouettes, notorious for squandering leads this season , had a 14-point advantage over the winless Ottawa Redblacks with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But it appeared even that lead might not be safe after the home side scored a touchdown slightly more than two minutes later. Montreal then failed to generate a first down and, with 1:59 remaining, saw the Redblacks drive from their 11 to the Montreal 24 before the drive stalled on third down.
By his count, head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said eight such snaps have gone askew in five games.
It’s one of many areas the Argos must clean up.
Depending on how the game plays out, Dinwiddie said Shane Richards might get reps at left tackle.
The former first overall pick was thrust into the game last week when Dejon Allen, the team’s incumbent at right tackle, was hurt.
In the same game, the Argos lost left tackle Trevon Tate, who moves to the six-game injured list.
Isiah Cage, the team’s projected starter at the blind side, is out, while Peter Nicastro probably won’t be available for at least another month, perhaps longer as he recovers from off-season knee surgery.
A date to keep in mind for a likely return is Sept. 24 when the Argos are in Ottawa.
Andrew Harris makes history at Mosaic, leading Argos to messy win over Riders
Andrew Harris made many of the Argonauts’ deficiencies disappear on Sunday night at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. With the Boatmen doing their best to implode, the future Hall of Fame running imposed his will and skill with a display of power running and mental toughness that won’t be soon forgotten. In easily his finest moment as an Argo — a day in which he would make CFL history — Harris bulled his way for 143 yards rushing and another 45 receiving — most of those coming in the second half — as the Argos rallied to defeat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 31-21.
Allen will be up Sunday with Richards and Theren Churchill as backups.
Churchill will dress for the first time this season.
He left camp to be with his girlfriend back in Alberta as the couple was expecting a child.
All told, the Argos have four offensive linemen on the six-game injured list.
According to Dinwiddie, Cage, who has only appeared in one game this season after he missed the entire 2021 season, is likely to return next week when the Argos play host to Hamilton.
For now, Dinwiddie will roll with Blake, who finished last week’s game in Regina at left tackle.
“We just don’t have guys available at tackle,’’ said Dinwiddie, who has also been forced to shuffle his receivers. “Phil finished the game last week at tackle and he played well. We’ll keep that same lineup.”
Mackellar took three snaps in Nova Scotia against Saskatchewan and played three quarters last week when the O-line was hit hard by injury.
Redblacks are 0-6, but will be a 'tough opponent' for Argonauts
In six career games against the Ottawa Redblacks, Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson has gone 6-0. The Redblacks play in the 6ix on Sunday, having lost a season-opening six games. MBT needs 93 passing yards from reaching 10,000 in his career. Numbers are of little consequence to the man known as Mac. Truth be told, numbers don’t mean anything to the Argos as well. Teams are what their records say they are, according to that football axiom. In the case of Ottawa, the team hasn’t yet found a way to close out games. In the case of the Argos, they won their season opener when Montreal missed a late field goal attempt.
Sunday marks his first-career start and the first time Mackellar will play at BMO Field.
Taken sixth overall by the Argos in this year’s CFL draft, the Nova Scotia native is a student of the game and is very studious in the film room.
It’s a big opportunity for the big man.
“I expect him to improve off of last week’s performance,’ said Dinwiddie of Mackellar. “He had some struggles early, but he got into a game flow and played pretty darn good for us.
“He’s a great player. He’s young and he’ll have his growing pains, but he’s getting better and we feel good having him be a starter.”
The botched snaps can’t be repeated because every yard will matter Sunday.
One of the points of emphasis has been the run game and how the Argos want to establish Andrew Harris and his downhill style.
It begins up front, which is why the Argos’ offensive line needs to control the line of scrimmage.
If it can’t, the Argos suddenly become one dimensional, allowing the Redblacks to dial up all kinds of blitz packages against McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who is not known for his mobility or his ability to make plays outside the pocket.
Toronto Argonauts vs. Ottawa Redblacks GameDay preview
Ottawa Redblacks (0-6) vs Toronto Argonauts (3-2) Sunday, 5 pm; BMO Field TSN/1050 AM Argos by 5.0 30C, clear, mix of sun and clouds, winds gusting 30 km/h STATS PACK Ott ….. Argos Points For 21.5 (6th) …. 21.2 (7th) Points Against 27.5 (7th) … 26.2 (5th) Rushing 91.0 (5th) …. 97.6 (4th) Passing 281.3 (5th) …. 279.8 (4th) Net Offence 354.2 (3rd) …. 352.4 (4th) Against 387.3 (9th) … 340.6 (4th) FIVE THINGS TO WATCH BOOM OR BUST Caleb Evans will Sunday, 5 pm; BMO Field
“We have to be able to pass protect because they’re (Redblacks) are a darn good front,’’ added Dinwiddie. “We understand that and we also understand that we have to be ready for secondary pressure. They’re going to throw the kitchen sink at us.
“I know they’re going to be aggressive. They were against us last year. We just have to make sure we handle their pressure and make sure we don’t have any bad plays.”
Toronto’s receiving unit will have a different look with Damonte Coxie making his CFL debut.
“He’s a big body guy,’’ said Dinwiddie of the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Coxie, 24, who played his collegiate football at Memphis.
Brandon Banks didn’t catch a single pass last week, but his 35-yard punt return proved to be as big as any play during the game because it set up the winning field goal.
Banks is expected to get the majority of reps Sunday in the return game.
Cam Phillips, who will get the start at slotback for an injured DaVaris Daniels, is likely to be used as will starting linebacker Chris Edwards in certain situations.
Dejon Brissett has returned punts, but he’ll be a game time decision.
Coxie may even get used in the return game.
“We were one block away,’’ said Dinwiddie of Banks’ return last week that could have gone for a score. “He set it all up. He has experience doing it.
“He wants to do it as well, which is encouraging and exciting. Even at this stage in his career he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. Punt return is all about courage sometimes.”
Argos come up big in second half for a three-phase win over hated Ticats .
There were no discipline issues on this night, all three phases chipping in to score touchdowns as the Argos finally played with inspiration and desperation. The opening half didn’t feature many, if any, moments to remember, but that quickly vanished when the second half began. The Argos emerged from a first-half slumber to score 28 points to beat the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats 34-20 and erase, to some degree, last Sunday’s embarrassment against Ottawa. Tied 17-17 early in the fourth, the Argos special teams finally did something special when Trevor Hoyte blocked a Michael Domagala punt and Benoit Marion scooped it up and rumbled 24 yards for the go-ahead major.