Pivotal problems

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

The Argos began the 2008 season with a quarterback controversy, and eight weeks later, as the club stumbles into its bye week, the controversy is back on.

During yet another lopsided loss, this time 32-14 to the Montreal Alouettes at the Rogers Centre last night, Argos head coach Rich Stubler yanked No. 1 quarterback Kerry Joseph after an unproductive first half and gave the ball to Michael Bishop.

There is no guarantee Joseph will start on Sept. 1, when the Argos return to the field in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats for the annual Labour Day Classic. In his first appearance since July 10 in Edmonton, Bishop played the entire second half in front of what was left of the 30,521 who walked through the turnstiles.

"I don't know," Stubler said when asked whether Joseph will get the call in just over two weeks. "It's not that day yet. I have to sleep on it for a couple of more nights and watch a lot more film.

"We got our ass kicked. But if we think it is one guy ... We can't block people, we can't run the ball well and we can't catch it well. I feel like (former coach) Pinball (Clemons) sitting in this chair. (The offence) has been a focal point, and it is not working, so we need to go to Plan C, D, E or F."

With the awful manner in which the Argos offence has performed, Stubler essentially resigned himself to watching a horror movie marathon. He said he will cancel the one golf date he had during the break to try to wrap his mind around the futile offence.

Bishop threw an interception not long after he took over but later hit Andre Talbot for the Argos' only touchdown. Offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto was back to calling the plays, but Stubler said he thought Buratto did a fine job. The execution was just plain bad.

And Bishop, who has taken his status as the No. 2 guy in stride, wants badly to get the call in Steeltown.

"That's the big question," Bishop said. "Setting the stage at the beginning of the game instead of coming in would be a big difference. I would love the opportunity."

'MIND BOGGLING'

Joseph, who dressed in silence one locker over as Bishop spoke to reporters, clearly is befuddled in Double Blue. He has not come close to the status he earned as the CFL's most outstanding player in 2007 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and acknowledged he is searching for answers.

"It's mind boggling, frustrating, but we have to keep working," Joseph said. "It's unfortunate because we have the talent."

The Alouettes led 11-7 at the half but scored the decisive major early in the third quarter when quarterback Anthony Calvillo hit Brian Bratton from four yards. Avon Cobourne amassed 107 yards on the ground and another 103 in receiving and had a touchdown as Montreal improved to 5-3 atop the East Division.

Combined with the inability of the Argos' James Robinson, Talbot and others to catch the ball, it made for a long night.

"I'm always worried," said Stubler, who will get Bethel Johnson back from injury after the break. "I am (surprised). We have some good athletes and some good plans, but we have not put it together at all."

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ARGOS REPLAY

SMALL VICTORY

When the Argos held a 4-3 lead after one quarter, it marked the first time this season the Alouettes did not lead after 15 minutes. In eight games, the Als have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 73-12 in the first quarter. No team had scored more than three points in the first quarter against Montreal.

BY THE NUMBERS

Als receiver Ben Cahoon caught a pass for the 99th consecutive game, while Argos' Arland Bruce hauled in a throw for the 48th game in a row.

QUOTABLE

"We don't want Damon to get player of the week any more. We don't want him kicking that many field goals." -- Als QB Anthony Calvillo on kicker Damon Duval, who had been successful on 16 in a row heading into last night.


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