Williams challenges Ticats straight on

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

Ricky ran.

There, now you know.

He ran for 97 yards on 18 carries and nearly every one of them was between the guards.

He may think in tangents, but when he gets the ball Ricky Williams, the transcendental fugitive from the NFL, is about as fancy as peanut-butter on whole wheat.

He does his running straight-on.

"The shortest distance between two points is a straight line," Williams was saying yesterday in the wake of the Argos' 27-17 curtain raiser over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

"My style is to get downhill. Even when I get outside, my style is to get downhill as soon as possible."

Williams' role in the Argos offence will have to be accelerated. Quarterback Damon Allen is out four to six weeks with a broken finger on his throwing hand. He did it on the club's first sequence when hit from behind by blitzing Ticats back Wayne Shaw.

Yesterday, the Argos did their best to ease Williams gingerly into his first CFL game.

Williams ran a little in the beginning and spent most of the first half as a superbly effective play-action decoy. At one point, the Argos executed seven consecutive play-action passes as the Ticats, sensibly enough, played plenty of attention to the guy everyone is writing about.

The opener was an unruly game, even by the liberal standards of the CFL. In relief of Allen, the Argos got a tremendous game from backup Spergon Wynn, who is already the career best Argonaut named Spergon.

They spent much of the afternoon watching the Ticats misfire. The Ticats were leading 10-7 when a Craig Yeast touchdown was waved off because of a foolish offside. The Ticats would settle for a field goal but Hamilton had shot its bolt. The Argos outscored Hamilton 19-4 the rest of the way.

Williams had only eight yards on three carries in the first half. It was all part of a plan.

"Two weeks ago we were sitting here talking about fourth quarter touches," Argos coach Pinball Clemons said. " I said what I'd really like to see is for him to touch the ball 10 or 15 times in the fourth quarter."

He had to settle for 11.

With the game still in reach, Williams ripped off fourth-quarter runs of 10, 35, seven, six and nine yards.

Aside from the 35-yarder, Williams skirted with the hashmarks. Nothing fancy, just straight ahead.

"Yards usually accumulate in the fourth quarter," Clemons said. "He stayed with it. More importantly, the offensive line stayed with it. On a real warm day they continued to come off the ball and wear the defence down. Those tackles at the beginning of the game become arm tackles at the end.

"He's a very disciplined back," tackle Bernard Williams said. "Especially for this being his first game, and him only being here a few weeks. He's disciplined."

As for whether the pace of the game met his expectations. Well, Williams doesn't deal in those.

"I don't have expectations of the speed. I didn't come up here saying I think these guys are slow or aren't good players. I have respect for anyone who puts on a football uniform. Any level of professional football, you have to be an athlete.

"You guys might see me being a big football player from the NFL coming in here but I approach my job more oseriously here than I did in the NFL. You have to get yourself ready to play, regardless of who you're playing."

That would be in Winnipeg on Friday, without your franchise quarterback. The Argos are going ball control.

As for the NFL. It gets no further than Winnipeg in June.

"Who cares," Williams said. "I'm doing this today and it's all that really matters.


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