Roughriders to run, run, run

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

They've seen it in the statistics and confirmed it on game film -- the Argos know their next opponent will run the football.

The question to be answered tomorrow night at Rogers Centre is can the defence stop or at least slow the prolific ground attack of the Saskatchewan Roughriders?

Led by running back Corey Holmes, the Green Riders are off to a solid 2-0 start in large part because of a run-oriented offence that is piling up big numbers.

"They are not difficult to game plan, they are difficult to stop," Argos coach Michael Clemons said yesterday prior to his 1-1 team's practice. "They do what they do well. They are going to run the ball."

They do it particularly well with Holmes, who has become the early season story in the CFL. His league-leading 223 yards on 29 carries is almost double his nearest rival, Ottawa's Josh Ranek with 115.

STEPPING UP FOR KEITH

Holmes has stepped up to become the featured back for the Riders because of the injury to Kenton Keith, who is expected to miss his second consecutive game tomorrow.

Elusive quarterback Nealon Greene, meanwhile, helps make up for that shortfall and the Argos defenders are preparing for all kinds of looks just the same.

"We want to try to slow them down and I don't know how you do that," Argos defensive end Eric England said. "Their offensive line is very good. They have so many big guys out there and both running backs have done extremely well. It's going to be a tough test for us to combat that."

One focus for the Argo defenders will be to limit the Riders on first down. In a 23-21 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this past Saturday, the Riders controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes. The week before, they pounded 52 points on the B.C. Lions in a dominating offensive show.

"We don't want them to be in second and four or five, it gives them too many options," Argos nose tackle Noah Cantor said. "Then Nealon can go back to pass and roll out for three or four yards. It sure makes it an easy game for them."

Thus far, not much has slowed Holmes, who has been a threat whatever the down and distance. The Riders have employed him at receiver at times and the speedy back has been dangerous on kick returns leading to another league high -- 516 all-purpose yards.

For that, Holmes has the ultimate respect of the man who authored the CFL record in that domain.

"I think most people have really missed the boat big time on Corey Holmes," said Clemons, who rolled to 25,396 all-purpose yards. "We're just starting to talk about it now and we're way late. He can run the ball, he can catch, he can return. He's a dynamic player when the ball is in his hands."


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