Stubler takes blame

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

About 15 hours after dumping on his players, Argos coach Rich Stubler yesterday took dead aim at himself.

"They out-coached us," Stubler said of the 32-13 unexpected shellacking the Argos suffered at the hands of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday night at the Rogers Centre.

"They did some things which we should have been prepared for and we weren't. It was a coaching loss."

After another look at the game film yesterday morning, Stubler said the Argos' effort was worse than he first thought. But there was a glimmer of optimism that came out of the second half, when quarterback Kerry Joseph called his own plays.

To that end, Stubler confirmed that no matter who starts next Thursday in Edmonton against the Eskimos -- Joseph or Michael Bishop -- the quarterback will call the shots. It's a tactic that is not often used in the CFL.

"My players have to take ownership of what is on the field," Stubler said. "I did a poor job of preparing them and that is my ownership. From now on, it will be their ownership. It's time for coaches to step aside let the players play."

That should make Joseph happy. He made it clear after the loss to Hamilton that he was comfortable most when he was making calls. That allowed him to roll out more rather than sit in the pocket and try to hit receivers, which is not his strength.

The Argos defence, built by Stubler during the past few seasons to the highest standard in the CFL, simply can't be as bad as it was against the Ticats, allowing running back Jesse Lumsden to rumble for as many yards as he wanted, or so it seemed.

The offence, though, does not scare anybody in the league, and Stubler is desperate to change that. In his mind, the Argos have the tools to make first downs and score touchdowns, but it's about using those tools properly.

Arland Bruce, for example, caught five passes for 64 yards, but his fumble with the outcome in question helped kill momentum Joseph was trying to front in the second half.

Time of possession was a sore point, as well, as the Ticats had the ball for 34 minutes 40 seconds. The Montreal Alouettes led the CFL in 2007 with an average of 31:48.

"Right now, we are not very comfortable in our own skin," Stubler said. "(Bad games) always happen this early. Last year, we did the same thing. I think it is very fixable."

And though Joseph played the whole game against Hamilton, Stubler said his plan to play both quarterbacks remains intact.

"It will be like this from week to week," Stubler said. "I've always said we don't have Doug Flutie here. If we had Doug Flutie here, then I could have my eyes closed. But right now we don't."

On the injury front, receiver Bethel Johnson suffered a sprained right ankle against the Tiger-Cats but Stubler expects him to play against Edmonton.

"I need to get him back," Stubler said. "It's hard to replace Bethel."


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