Argos expect big things

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Argonauts coach Michael (Pinball) Clemons called out his best players yesterday, challenging them to come up big Saturday in a game that will decide the playoff line-up in the Canadian Football League's East conference.

A loss to the Montreal Alouettes at the matinee affair at Rogers Centre combined with a win by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers later that day over the host B.C. Lions would drop the Argos from first to third in the standings.

A win, regardless of what happens in Vancouver, will give the Argos a much-needed bye week and home-field advantage through to the Grey Cup.

Just the thought of having to play a playoff game in wintry Manitoba in November sends chills up Clemons' back.

"The big players make the big plays in the big games," he said.

Clemons keyed in on quarterback Damon Allen and all- star receiver Arland Bruce as just two of the players he expects to step up their game against the Als.

"When we brought in Damon in 2003 we talked about that and we won the Grey Cup in 2004," he said. "And he was our leader down that stretch."

Clemons said that he expects his best players to respond to the opportunity to decide their own playoff fate in the game against Montreal.

"Players who are supposed to make the plays have to rise up this week... the likes of Arland Bruce," he said. "You don't have to agree with the philosophy that your big players must come up big in these games... it is just the reality of this time of year."

Clemons also made note of the frustration of Argos defensive captain Mike O'Shea, who complained after the Saskatchewan game that it was time for the offence to get its act together.

He said O'Shea is the kind of player who does come up big in the big games, but still has to understand Saturday will be a new game and that means another new commitment to excellence by the defence.

"Michael O'Shea has always been that type of player; a player who is not only great on the field but shows great leadership during the week," Clemons said. "Our defence is consistent all the time and this week they have to turn it on again."

Yesterday Clemons added an extra 40 minutes to the normal drills, although he denied it was in any way a punishment for a lacklustre 13-9 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders four days earlier.

"There's no message there," Clemons said. "We were just getting our work done."

A victory against the Green Riders would have made the game Saturday meaningless for the Boatmen.

ARGO'S BEST

A look at the Argos' nominees for the CFL individual awards:

-Player -- WR Arland Bruce

-Canadian -- LB Kevin Eiben

-Special Teams -- P-K Noel Prefontaine

-Defensive Player -- DB Byron Parker

-Offensive Player -- G Jude St. John

-Rookie -- LB Raymond Fontaine

(Division winners to be announced Oct 31)


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