Argos bungle another one

Argos QB Cody Pickett tries to get separated from a potential sack during Labour Day action at...

Argos QB Cody Pickett tries to get separated from a potential sack during Labour Day action at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium on Monday. (Sun Media/Ernest Doroszuk)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Summer vacation is over, but the boys of bummer haven't gone anywhere.

The Argonauts, so close to victory in their previous two games, evidently didn't want to feel the same pain a third consecutive week.

From the Argos' perspective, the Labour Day Classic was anything but. A 34-15 loss to their rivals, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, might not have completely buried the Argos for 2009, but the dirt on the coffin is getting deeper.

With a record of 2-7 at the Canadian Football League mid-season, the Argos will have to have a major turnaround in a hurry, starting at home on Friday night against the Ticats, to have any chance of making the playoffs. Insert your own punchline here.

Bad penalties, five turn-overs, dropping the ball, inability to score -- the Argos can't help but be their own undoing. And there's no reason to believe things will get better.

"It's the halfway point and I don't look outside of our team, but if it's not now, then this week is do or die," offensive tackle Rob Murphy said.

"It's the story of the year. We just didn't play consistent football. I don't know (why). I wish I could give you an answer, but I truly don't know."

Head coach Bart Andrus, who has acknowledged his mistakes in previous weeks, knows that talking about the playoffs is foolish.

"Playoff team? Right now?" Andrus said, sounding incredulous. "We have to improve in a lot of areas. Potentially, we could be if we improve. If we don't, no."

The frustration seeped up to the press box, where general manager Adam Rita and his right-hand man, assistant GM Greg Mohns, visibly were upset. It's inconceivable that the pair will be around next year if the Argos fail to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season. And Andrus shouldn't be getting comfortable, either. That he is a first-year coach in the CFL is an excuse that has a limit.

Somewhere, Rich Stubler has to be having a laugh. He was fired last September after going 4-6, and the Argos are 2-15 since.

The Argos started out fine before a boisterous capacity crowd of 30,293 at Ivor Wynne Stadium, taking a 7-0 lead on a three-yard rush by Jamal Robertson. But the bad habits didn't take long to take over.

Toronto's Claude Harriott was called for offside on one play, which negated a 25-yard loss by Ticats quarterback Kevin Glenn, who had to scramble to recover the football. With the Harriott penalty, the Ticats regrouped and Dave Stala had a touchdown a few minutes later.

Quarterback Cody Pickett, now 0-5 as an Argos starter, threw his first interception of the season and the Ticats got a field goal out of the turnover.

Pickett, who is not shaping up to be a long-term answer with Kerry Joseph benched, completed 25 of 40 passes for 217 yards. His counterpart, Kevin Glenn, was 20 of 36 for 273 yards and two touchdowns. Guess which one is the CFL vet?

Andrus keeps talking about how he is happy that the players are working hard to turn things around and that, apparently, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But the man who became his nemesis this season, the Ticats' Arland Bruce, is not so sure.

"They don't look, I wouldn't say unhappy, I would say hungry, like: 'Come on, coach, let us play ball,' " Bruce said after his first game against his former teammates. "There are some great players over there. But they just aren't the same."

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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