Argos '100% behind' Pinball

Michael

Michael "Pinball" Clemons. (SUN/Stan Behal)

JASON PAUL -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

The ball bounced on Kent Austin's head, but don't expect Pinball Clemons to be the next to go.

The struggling Argonauts officially relieved Austin of his duties as the team's offensive co-ordinator yesterday, a move which became public knowledge late Saturday.

"It's pretty simple. We weren't moving the football,"Argos general manager Adam Rita said yesterday. "He wasn't being effective (in getting the offence on track) and we agreed to make this move."

The Argos (2-5), who have the worst offence in the Canadian Football League, sunk to a new low on Thursday by not even crossing midfield on offence in a 31-7 shellacking by the Montreal Alouettes.

As frustrating as the Argos' slide has been, president and CEO Keith Pelley was adamant that Clemons' job is not in danger.

"We're 100% behind Michael Clemons and what he is doing with Adam Rita. Those two guys have our fullest confidence," Pelley said.

The Argos have no plans to hire a new offensive co-ordinator immediately. The bulk of the duties will be handed to receivers coach Paul LaPolice, with Rita -- who was the Argos' offensive co-ordinator in 2003 -- providing assistance.

"The biggest problem was the quarterback wasn't playing well consistently enough," Rita said. "What we were doing wasn't working. We needed to change. I have an idea of what needs to be done but I won't tell you."

Rita also didn't rule out making changes to the roster, saying, "That's the next thing we have to do."

Austin, who in the off-season was a leading candidate to become the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, joined the Argos in 2004 and helped the team win the Grey Cup. Last year, his quarterback, Damon Allen, won the CFL's most-outstanding-player award.

But this season has been a disaster. The Argos have scored the fewest points in the league (16.1 per game). They also rank last in rushing yards (452), passing yards (1,505) and total yards (1,747).

It hasn't helped that the offence has been hampered by injuries. Allen still hasn't fully recovered from a broken finger suffered in the season-opener and backup Spergon Wynn has been ineffective. While three running backs -- Ricky Williams (arm), John Avery (hamstring) and Jeff Johnson (quad) -- have been hurt, they weren't utilized much in Austin's pass-oriented offence.

"This is a very, very tough day," a subdued Clemons said in announcing the change. "He has a system that is a little bit challenging and I didn't think it was fair of me to ask him to do the kinds of things we may have to do at this time with where we are physically."

The Argos next play on Saturday in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats in a battle of East Division bottom-feeders.

"We've struggled early in the year," Pelley said, "but we have a much better football team than this and we certainly feel we have the talent to challenge this year."


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