Tough schedule doesn't faze Argos

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:42 PM ET

CALGARY - If the potentially tough start to the 2010 regular season is bugging the Toronto Argonauts, they're not letting on.

We're talking about the schedule, which has the Argos playing four of their first six games on the road.

It's not an ideal situation for a club coming off a 3-15 season, but if there's one thing about professional athletes, it's that they really do worry about only one game at a time.

"I had no idea," special-teams captain Bryan Crawford said.

"I know we are in Moncton in September and we are in Hamilton on Labour Day.

"It's one of those things where you have to look week to week. You have to go and make all the trips and play everyone at home too, so it does not really make a difference."

The Argos, after starting at McMahon Stadium on Thursday night, will be in Winnipeg next Friday.

The home opener comes in Week 3 against the Stampeders, followed by a home date with David Braley's other Canadian Football League team, the B.C. Lions.

Then it's on to Montreal and Edmonton, a couple of cities where the Argos have not had much success recently. Actually, that could go for all CFL cities, including their own.

But four in six away from the Rogers Centre?

The challenges already were on the table for head coach Jim Barker, who has fielded a young team with a quarterback stable that has no CFL experience.

In the worst-case scenario, by Week 7, when the Argos play host to the Alouettes in the first of back-to-back home games against East Division rivals (the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visit a week later), the season could be lost.

Strangely, the Argos won their season openers, both on the road, in the past two years. After, they won a total of five games.

The Argos also lose a home game this year, though the Sept. 26 match in Moncton against the Eskimos counts as one.

The Double Blue plan to spend much of the preceding week in Moncton, not only to participate in a myriad of activities with fans in the Maritimes but also to get themselves accustomed to the stadium on the campus of the University of Moncton.

But no matter how many of the 20,000 fans packed into the stadium are wearing Double Blue, it's doubtful the temporary surroundings will feel like home.

The Argos aren't the only CFL team with a quirky start to 2010.

The Alouettes open with three on the road -- at Saskatchewan, Edmonton and B.C. -- because there was a concern that the refurbished Molson Stadium on the campus of McGill University would not be ready for July 1.

As it turned out, there would not have been a problem. The Argos and Als played a pre-season game there on June 19, a match that at one point had been scheduled for Olympic Stadium.

Like the Argos, the Als will get a difficult early-season test that could be a large determining factor in the final standings.

The Stampeders, meanwhile, will be in Hamilton next Saturday -- and then have just three days off before playing in Toronto on July 14. May factors go into the setting of the schedule, but it's a little much to ask a professional football team to play two games in five days, isn't it?

Whatever the case, each CFL team will have some grumbling about their respective schedules.

At least they're on equal footing in that sense.

"You initially look at it and think it's a tough thing that we are playing so much on the road to start -- but you have to deal with it," Argos offensive lineman Rob Murphy said.

"Toward the back half of the season, it swings back, so it's not really a big deal."

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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