Argos toying with 'Cats?

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

HAMILTON -- If it's the Argonauts strategy not to show any of their really good stuff until it counts, then you'd have to agree they've been wildly successful to this point.

For the second game in a row last night against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Argos craftily disguised their game plan to look like a book of blank verse.

When it was over, Hamilton had its first two-game winning streak against the Argos in this millennium, a 21-11 decision in front of a crowd in excess of 25,000 at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

There is nothing in sports quite so dreadful as pre-season anything, but football is especially lame when nothing substantial is on the line. It's a game of emotion and adrenaline and when neither commodity is present, the entertainment value is pretty much nil.

"It's difficult to play two pre-season games against a team, then come back and play them for the first game of the year," Argos head coach Michael Clemons said. "It's the oddest thing I've ever experienced in pre-season.

"I understand why we do it. Having them in for our home opener is a great idea and the proximity makes economical sense in the pre-season. It all makes sense business-wise but football-wise, it's a real challenge."

Which is Clemons' way of saying you haven't yet seen anything that might impact on the regular season.

As far as Hamilton is concerned, though, these two games are valuable if only to convince themselves that they can compete and win against the Argos.

If Clemons had his way, his players never would strap on their helmets unless the game meant something. He's certainly not going to expose the nuances of his offence, or for that matter, of his defence against his arch-rival in an exhibition contest. Even though most of his regulars have seen plenty of action during the two games, there will be little that is recognizable, we'd guess, when the Ticats come to Toronto next Saturday for the season-opener for both teams.

To that extent, Ricky Williams has fit right in with his new teammates, though last night he was far more productive than in his debut. In his first game, he carried four times for seven yards. Last night, he ran the ball 11 times for 46 yards before bowing out in the fourth quarter. He fumbled once late in the first quarter on his own 34-yard line and that led directly to Hamilton's first touchdown of the game on the next play.

There has been no evidence of the alterations to the offensive schemes the Argos have planned to get the most out of Williams. And why tip their hand in games that don't count for anything?

Williams handled the ball in straight-ahead running plays only. To this point, his participation has been strictly no-frills.

Quarterback Spergon Wynn threw one pass in Williams' direction late in the second quarter but that was strictly as a safety-valve on a broken play. Ricky dropped it.

At other times, though, Williams went out on pass patterns and was open on a number of them. You can bet that the Argos will be attempting to get him open as a receiver with room to run.

Wynn got the lion's share of the work at quarterback for the Argos. He came off the bench early in the game when starter Damon Allen appeared to be slightly shaken up after a run that resulted in a fumble.

Wynn had looked shaky in the first exhibition game last week but had a much better performance last night, despite his 4-for-16 passing stats in the first half. Included in all those incompletions were at least five blatant drops by a variety of receivers, most of them veterans. In the second half, he did find rookie receiver Donald Hayes for the Argos' only touchdown.

Defensively, the Argos look like they may be rounding into shape. Both Hamilton touchdowns came as a result of field position earned by turnovers made by the offence.

But the truth is, we're not really going to know a whole lot about either of these teams for another week, when the shooting starts for real.


Videos

Photos