Argos feeling pretty good about themselves

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:01 AM ET

Just 16 days were crossed off the calendar between the Argonauts’ large victory against the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday night and their thorough embarrassment at the hands of the Als in Montreal at the end of July.

How were the Argos, who will return to practice on Monday to prepare for a home game on Friday night against Arland Bruce and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before scattering across the continent for their bye week, able to turn the tables so convincingly?

Chad Owens owned his former team at the Rogers Centre, but several factors conspired to give the Argos their first triumph over Montreal in almost three years.

The Argos spoke two weeks ago of missed tackles and how that hurt them. It was different in Toronto, as there were few instances when the Als slipped through for extra yardage.

Aggressive play

Linebackers Kevin Eiben, Jason Pottinger and Jordan Younger all had six tackles, and thanks to that aggressive play, Alouettes running back Avon Cobourne was made to be human again. Cobourne had more than 100 yards in rushing and receiving two weeks ago but was limited to just 26 yards on the ground on 11 carries and 20 in the air. It’s about gap control along the line, and Cobourne simply didn’t get much room.

Quarterback Anthony Calvillo completed 37 passes for 450 yards, and the Als had 27 first downs to the Argos’ 16, but Calvillo couldn’t consistently make the big play.

His counterpart, Cleo Lemon, didn’t have as good a game statistically as he did in a victory in Edmonton a week earlier. But Lemon and his receivers made a giant stride as the Alouettes effectively stopped running back Cory Boyd. Lemon passed for three touchdowns for the first time in the Canadian Football League and further demonstrated a poise that has been brewing through seven weeks.

“Cleo is a legitimate quarterback in this league at this point,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said. “Where he ends up in terms of the season, he has a lot of room to grow. You people had questions, but he never did.”

And when several vital veterans were injured — slotback Jeremaine Copeland (arm), cornerback Willie Middlebrooks (muscle cramps) and lineman Cedric Gagne-Marcoux (calf) — others stepped in and performed without missing a beat. That included Ryan Christian, Josh Abrams and Jeff Keeping.

“All of us — backups, starters — we all prepare like we are starting,” Keeping said. “Scout teams go all out in practice, and that helps guys prepare.”

There’s an intangible that can’t be measured on a game sheet. The Argos are 5-2, but all along, since the first snap was taken in Calgary on July 1, they’ve had no doubt that they were going to win every game they contested. Five out of seven to start is excellent.

When a team pulls off a flea flicker one week against Edmonton and then slides into a throwback option against the defending Grey Cup champs, you’re watching a group that believes in itself.

“We are starting to get that confidence,” offensive lineman Rob Murphy said. “I played on a great team in B.C. in 2006 (that won the Grey Cup) and I thought the locker room was great there. The locker room here is even better. The guys in here will do anything for one another. In B.C. it was the same thing, but it is more apparent here.”

Barker said after the game that he told his players that if they come back and fail to perform against Hamilton, the win versus Montreal would be hollow.

We don’t see that happening. This Argos team isn’t about lying down, a crucial aspect that sets them apart from the Boatmen of recent years.


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