EDMONTON -- Chances are if CBC had not locked out its employees, announcers would be talking about the passing attack of the Argos and Eskimos tonight.
The passing attacks are the big story of the game at Commonwealth Stadium, not withstanding the lockout, which will result in the television broadcast being accompanied by only crowd sounds and the public address announcer providing some detail.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the teams run the football, but I don't think a tiger changes its stripes," Argos head coach Pinball Clemons said yesterday.
The Argos are second in the league in team passing and last in the running game, while Edmonton is third in passing and second-last in rushing.
Damon Allen is back as the Argos' starting quarterback after beginning the last game against Montreal as the backup to rest his sore right ankle. It is still bothering him, but he proved coming off the bench in the second half against the Als that he can withstand the discomfort. Unfortunately for the Argos, they dug themselves a 14-0 hole in the first half and lost 18-10.
Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray is showing little signs of rust after a year in the National Football in which he didn't play a regular-season down with the New York Jets.
Eskimos rookie head coach Danny Maciocia, who is also the team's offensive co-ordinator, said his team will have to follow the plan of some other teams and try to wear down the Argos defence with short passes and use up the clock.
"I'm preaching (patience)," Maciocia said. "I say that out loud. I've got to get myself in that mode. Obviously, it's not a concern for my quarterback -- nothing (bothers) him, so he can be as patient as he wants to be. If you're (being patient), then you're taking a lot of time off the clock as far as time of possession. The other thing is, Damon's not going to be able to hurt you because he'll be watching you do it. The P word -- patience -- is going to be huge."
Ray said that from looking at the Argos' game footage, it is obvious Toronto doesn't want to let the opposition go deep.
"You've got to be able to complete the short routes, make some guys miss and pick up some yards, and try not to get frustrated and want to throw it deep because that's playing right into their hands," Ray said.
"We're going to have go out and throw it short and test their patience.
"If we can complete short routes and keep moving the chains, at some point they're going to get frustrated."
Argo safety Orlondo Steinauer is convinced the Eskimos are going to try some long passes.
"This is going to be a big test for us because they're not going to back away from throwing the ball deep," Steinauer said. "I think they're going to challenge us."
Steinauer sees this as just another game, with no significant value other than that the Argos need to play better defensively as a team.
"If we play well, we're tough to beat," he said.