No QB controversy for Argos

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

As the Argonauts prepare for their final pre-season game tonight there are two obvious improvements from the team that fell two wins short of a Grey Cup champagne bath last season.

First, these guys don't have a designated No. 1 quarterback. Second, if Canadian Idol ever needs someone to do a chorus of Kum Ba Yah, these guys kill!

Doesn't sound like much, but first-year head coach Rich Stubler is hoping those changes translate into two more wins than in 2007.

The team went through its final walk-through practice yesterday as it prepared to meet Hamilton at Rogers Centre with Kerry Joseph scheduled to start at quarterback. "But don't read anything into that," said Stubler, noting Michael Bishop, at the helm for 10 Toronto wins last year, will play the second half.

This is a team that doesn't have many openings. Tyler Scott has one last chance to show what he can do at receiver, Brian Ramsay has won a starting job at tackle, and expect to see more of T.J. Acree at slotback. Just don't hold your breath for Stubler to announce his No. 1 quarterback before next week's season opener -- unless your idea of fun is turning purple and having big, burly guys give you the kiss of life.

He'll use a two-quarterback offence, invoking the memory of Joe Barnes and Condredge Holloway from Argos lore.

"Right now I'm comfortable with either guy on the field. What that means next week, I don't know. I do things by feel and not by statistics," Stubler said. "Both those guys wanted to be the starting quarterback and they took a team which was arguably one of the worst in CFL history to Grey Cups. Both believe to this day when you talk to them they were the quarterback of record."

He believes the Joseph-Bishop combination can be equally effective. Both, he believes, deserve to play. "Both had a great camp and both are pushing each other," Stubler said.

It's not as if this never has been a successful strategy in the CFL. "Go back to Tom Wilkinson and Warren Moon in Edmonton. A dumpy guy and a stallion. But Wilky was the starting quarterback and they won five Grey Cups," Stubler said. "So, I don't think it matters who is at the helm as long as everyone understands we're rowing in the same direction."

Not having a designated No. 1 quarterback can cause grumbling, finger pointing and result in rifts in the dressing room. But Stubler says he talks to his two quarterbacks every day and so far, so good.

"We deal with it internally. We have the five Ps: Prior planning prevents poor performance. It used to be six but I can't use that word," Stubler says, grinning coyly.

Then there's that "Kum Ba Yah factor." After the walk-through yesterday, players split into four teams and lined up to play a sort of pickup baseball in which they hit a soccer ball with a bat to much hooting, hollering and rolling about. Then, at centre field, players formed a circle and there came the sounds of song that sounded like a southern revival meeting. Bodies swayed to harmony. The only thing it didn't have was Brother Clemons to deliver the sermonette.

But it is all part of what Stubler believes makes this team different than the one that fell just short last season.

'GREAT CAMARADERIE'

"I can't put my finger on it right now. I think it will become self-evident. Right now, we have great enthusiasm. We have great camaraderie, which I don't think we've had in the past.

"It's like today playing bat-ball. Everybody was into it. I know you guys think bat-ball is stupid. But bat-ball is one of those things that builds camaraderie within a team and not competition. I know it seems crazy, professional athletes out there swinging at a soccer ball but it builds something."

It builds, he believes, a championship team.

"I'm only here for one reason," Stubler said. "That's to win a Grey Cup."


Photos