Argos set sights toward Ticats' young guns

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Argonauts head coach Michael Clemons has a good read on Hamilton Tiger-Cats running back Jesse Lumsden.

Sort of.

Clemons knows that Lumsden is going to get the ball a lot this afternoon at Ivor Wynne Stadium in the annual Labour Day Classic between the Argonauts and the Tiger-Cats, especially with rookie quarterback Timmy Chang getting the start for Hamilton. And the coach has some good ideas on how to contain the outstanding Canadian, who is third in CFL rushing with 627 yards (on only 74 carries). However, it's the name that throws Clemons off, who kept referring to Jesse as Neil during a media conference yesterday at Ivor Wynne.

"Neil Lumsden is downright scary. Someone asked me earlier this week, how do you stop Neil Lumsden and ... "

At that point, Clemons was reminded that it was Jesse playing for the Ticats now, not his dad Neil, who was a standout fullback in the CFL for years -- many years ago.

Without missing a beat, Clemons said: "And that's how you stop (Jesse), you turn him into his dad."

Lumsden is third in rushing in the CFL but is averaging a league-best 8.5 yards per rush. He is also third overall in combined yards (936).

"Watching the film against Montreal (Aug. 25), if you look at the end of the (Percival Molson) stadium, you can see a church. The best thing to do is to go into the church and pray. That may be the best way to stop this young man," Clemons said.

"We need to play well in all three phases," the coach added. "It's not just about to try to stop their offence or try to control a young quarterback (Chang) or put pressure on him or keep Jesse from getting started. It really is about playing well special-teams wise and playing well offensively."

This year's Labour Day Classic is not exactly that, pitting the CFL's two worst teams (at least according to their records).

Hamilton has won only one game in eight this season, and has lost four in a row, while the Argonauts are 2-6 and winless since No. 1 quarterback Michael Bishop went out with a broken wrist July 12.

Clemons is expecting an intense clash between the long-time rivals.

"When you get to Labour Day, it doesn't matter how good the teams are, what the records are, you can throw all of that out the window," the coach said. "Labour Day is a different day in and of itself. It is a different animal. We have come in here expecting to have to fight for our lives to win this football game."

The Argos will face a new starting quarterback as head coach Charlie Taaffe has opted to replace veteran starter Jason Maas with the rookie Chang, who became the NCAA's all-time leader in passing yards (17,072), completions (1,388) and attempts (2,436) during his final season at the University of Hawaii (2004). On the other side, Clemons confirmed that Bishop will be his starter and the former understudy to Damon Allen expects his first game back to be a nasty one.

"Definitely," Bishop said. "I've always taken a shot underneath the pile or taken a shot to the face (in this game). Two years ago, we had a big brawl. That's expected."

The Argos are hosting this year's Grey Cup and are feeling heat to get back into the playoff picture in the East.

"We're coming here with a little chip on our shoulder," cornerback Byron Parker said.


Videos

Photos