Argos brace for a Stampede

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:45 PM ET

CALGARY — The Toronto Argonauts aren’t seeing a winless team when they look at the Calgary Stampeders.

They’re seeing the defending Grey Cup champs.

So tonight’s clash is a chance to knock off a top team, plus have that winning feeling should they be back at McMahon Stadium for the CFL championship game in November.

“This is one you mark on your calendar because you get to compare yourself to the Grey Cup champions from the previous season, and that’s something you always look forward to,” Argonauts head coach Bart Andrus said. “I feel good about the way our football team has prepared this week and the focus we had. I think it’s going to be a great game.”

As much as the Argos are lamenting last week’s 46-36 loss to Saskatchewan, in which they were outscored 30-0 in the second quarter and took a whack of foolish penalties, the Stampeders are in bigger disarray two weeks into the season.

Their offence has struggled to start both games and been victimized by a slew of turnovers.

Their defence is last against the run and given up the most points in the league.

They look nothing like the squad which hoisted the Grey Cup last November.

Then again, you must be wary of the wounded bear in this situation.

“The way I look at professional football is there are two teams, and they’re all getting paid,” Andrus said. “It’s a fight every week, regardless of previous records coming in. In my mind, a team that hasn’t won a game is a dangerous team, because at some point they start trying things they would normally not try. I don’t think they’re at that point, yet.

“I think they’re going to be focused and prepared for this game.”

Certainly, the Stampeders are out to prove their early season woes are just a blip on the screen. Two games does not make a season, but it’s obvious the feeling around McMahon Stadium is a third loss to start the season could mean panic buttons will be pushed.

“It’s a slap in the face to be 0-2,” said Stampeders centre Rob Lazeo. “We’re the worst team in the league. I’m not calling anyone out. We’re not doing well, because of penalties or turnovers or whatever. Whatever we’re doing, we have to do it differently right now.

“We need to come out with a chip on our shoulder. Not in the second half after getting our butts chewed out by the coach. We need to do it in the first half and start putting a beating on people.”

Not that the Argos are feeling all high and mighty.

After beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to start the season, they were masters of their own demise at home to Saskatchewan.

“We’ve got a chip on our shoulder right now,” receiver Arland Bruce said. “We’re coming in here to the defending Grey Cup champs and this is where the Grey Cup is going to be at this year, so you’ve got to get your energy up.

“They’re 0-2 right now, so they’re looking for a win and we’re coming off a loss so we’re looking for a win right now too. It’s going to be fun.”

Not if the Argos are flagged with 141 yards in penalties again. Andrus spent a chunk of time addressing the issue with the main culprits, notably defensive lineman Adriano Belli.

“That’s something I’m going to address every time,” Andrus said. “If guys can’t change, then we’ve got to change guys. That’s the bottom line. It’s the same as if a guy can’t get do a skill that’s going to keep him on a team, then you’ve got to change guys.

“I’m confident. They’re talking with our players and are with it in terms of, ‘We need to control our temper a little better’ and ‘We need to not hurt our football team any more than need be.’ ”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos