REGINA - Risky business? No. Calculated might be a better way of putting it.
The Argonauts’ special teams, under co-ordinator Mike O’Shea, have been a thing to behold in 2010, but everything the group does is planned down to the last detail.
The special teams were significant in the Argos’ victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday, helping the Boatmen recover from a one-point deficit at the half with some massive plays in the fourth quarter.
None was larger than a direct snap to special teams captain Bryan Crawford, which came on third-and-two at the Toronto 51-yard line. Crawford took the football and ran 25 yards. Two plays later, Cleo Lemon found Jeremaine Copeland for a 28-yard touchdown, providing the deciding points.
“Coach O’Shea is designing these plays that are against looks that are going to work,” Crawford said. “We’re not just running things and hoping they work. We are running them against looks that we are practising against, that we are waiting to see in games. When we see them, he has the trust in the guys on the field that we are going to execute them properly.”
Earlier in the fourth quarter, punter Jamie Boreham faked a safety, and handed off, behind his back no less, to Byron Parker. The play confused the Roughriders enough that Parker was able to gain nine yards and a first down.
Between the rushes by Parker and Crawford, Ricky Foley blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Luca Congi. That was critical, as it preserved a 17-16 Argos lead at the time.
“When you are trying to find your way, trying to find a rhythm, it’s great to make a play like that,” Foley said after his fourth game in Double Blue. “You definitely get a little more confidence.”
The message from Argos head coach Jim Barker is to keep expecting more surprises from the special teams.
“It’s the way we play,” Barker said. “We have the best special teams coach around. And you have to have the courage to do it.
“It keeps the punt rush down because (the opposition) is worried about fakes. It’s something that helps you down the road. We will continue to do what we do, which is not be afraid to make plays.”