Argo defence to face test

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 PM ET

Frustration has the potential to become a four-letter word for the Argonauts defence on Saturday afternoon in Montreal.

The Argos were fairly sound in many defensive areas in 2009, but like the rest of the Canadian Football League, could not stop the Alouettes’ offence, led by ageless quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

In turn, the final training -camp exam for the Argos defenders couldn’t be more difficult.

But that’s the way they want it.

And keep in mind the defending Grey Cup champion Als shut out the Argos once last season, outscoring Toronto 94-25 in three victories. Since beating Montreal in the 2007 pre-season, Toronto has run up an eight-game winless skid against the Alouettes.

“It’s going to be a good test to see where we stack up against a team that runs an efficient offence,” free safety Willie Pile said. “That’s the best word to describe them. Nothing flashy, but efficient. It’s on us to be aggressive, physical and smart.

“As the old motto goes, you cut off the head of a snake and a body is going to fall. It’s our goal to get after them, to get hits on them legally and try to punish their receivers when they catch the ball.”

For the Argos, the key isn’t stopping the Als from completing passes, because that is nearly impossible. No, a focal point for the Boatmen will be tackling. That’s an aspect that has been lacking in recent years. And the defensive line will have to be patient.

“(The Als) know exactly what they are doing,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said. “They have great timing and Anthony has a great release. He gets the ball out quick.”

The Argos won’t have non-import Jason Pottinger, who is expected to start the regular season at middle linebacker. Pottinger suffered a stinger on Thursday and will sit out, but would be on the field if the game counted in the standings. Another Canadian linebacker, Tang Bacheyie, should be rewarded for a strong camp with some playing time.

“I wanted to have a good camp because I did not want that to happen again,” Bacheyie said in reference to 2009, when he was drafted by the B.C. Lions, taken from the Lions’ practice roster by the Argos in July and released by Toronto in August, only to re-sign with the Argos in the off-season.

“It’s not what I wanted, but that’s life. It has been a good, tough camp.”

Barker also is curious to see if the team that he has assembled has the football stones to keep up with the Alouettes. Both teams are expected to play the majority of their starters for most of the game.

“It’s perfect for us to be able to see the standard,” Barker said.

“Montreal will set the standard, and it is our opportunity to see what type of execution it takes to get to that level.

“We’re really looking forward to going in there. Playing the defending Grey Cup champions is the perfect scenario for us.”


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