Bishop ready if Allen falters

STEVE BUFFERY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

CALGARY -- Argos head coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons managed to put a brave face on Saturday's calamity in Calgary, describing the 39-18 defeat as a learning experience.

But Clemons, who must regroup his troops for a rematch against the Stampeders this Saturday at the Rogers Centre, did learn something important about his backup quarterback.

And that is, Michael Bishop is ready to play, and not just in terms of rushing the ball on third and short situations, which has been his main job since returning to Toronto on Aug. 11.

With Saturday's game at McMahon Stadium out of hand, and the Argos all but dead in the water, Clemons took starting QB Damon Allen out of the game and inserted Bishop, who has supplanted Spergon Wynn as the team's No.1 backup.

Bishop marched the Argos down the field, completing four passes in seven attempts, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Arland Bruce with 39 seconds left, making the game at least somewhat respectable.

For Bishop, getting a taste of real action was a revelation.

"It definitely feels good," the former Heisman Trophy finalist said. "I've been coming in on short yardage, sneaking in the first downs, but I had an opportunity to call plays on the no-huddle offence and get some completions and it felt good to be back out there and get in the swing of the game."

Allen is unquestionably the Argos main man at QB, but football is a tough game and any successful team has to have a backup ready to come in and produce.

Wynn has his troubles earlier this season when Allen went down with a broken finger in his right hand, leading the Argos to one win in five games as a starter.

There's no doubt now, barring an injury, that Bishop will take over from Allen if anything happens to the old fella. To his credit, Bishop accepted his role as the guy charging at the defensive line for short yardage gains when he arrived in T.O. But he wouldn't turn down another chance to actually run the offence if anything happened to Allen.

"I've got a couple of headaches from getting hit in the head (on third and shorts)," Bishop said, with a laugh. "But as long as we keep the offence moving, that's the main thing."

The 7-6 Argos, who lost for the first time in six games, are biting at the bit for a rematch against the 9-5 Stampeders, and getting the chance to prove that they can play well against tougher West Division teams.

"We had too many penalties and horrible field position and those are things you can't afford to do on the road, playing a good team," running back Ricky Williams said.

Clemons might have the services of both his star running backs this weekend against the Stampeders as John Avery is almost recovered from an ankle injury.

However, with five games left, including four against teams from the West, the Argos will be hard-pressed to win the East and grab home-field position for the playoffs.

"The true test is making it into the playoff and what you do once you're there," Clemons said


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