REGINA — Some random thoughts and observations following the Argonauts’ 24-19 victory in versus the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a triumph that handed the Green Riders their first home loss of the 2010 regular season:
An odd touchdown every so often in the fourth quarter — which is what the Argos got when Cleo Lemon hooked up with Jeremaine Copeland — can’t hide the reality that the offence has to be a lot more consistent. Only because the defence was so sharp were the Argos down by just a point at halftime. Playoff aspirations are great, and the Argos are almost guaranteed of earning a post-season berth, but they can’t be keeping their fingers crossed that touchdowns will come from the defence and special teams. There are four games left in the regular season, and four games left for the offence to find a stride that begins in the first quarter, not sometime during the second half. Lemon passed for just 150 yards, and that’s not good enough.
STAYING ON POINT
Nice to see that running back Cory Boyd and Copeland, a slotback, could share in the headlines. Boyd toppled the 100-yard mark for the sixth time this season (the Argos franchise record for 100-yard rushing games in a season is eight, accomplished by Michael Jenkins in 2001), and Copeland, with 70 yards receiving on five catches, had his most productive game as an Argo. Both men want the football as much as they can get it, and we would hate to think there would be a clash of egos if one got it more than the other.
GETTING IT DONE
It’s hard not to be happy for a guy like Bryan Crawford, whose 25-yard dash on special teams helped result in Copeland’s winning score. The Hamilton native and Queen’s grad is in his sixth season with the Argos and usually doesn’t get a shot on offence. But not only is he the Argos’ special teams captain, the 5-foot-10, 204-pounder leads the CFL with 21 special-teams tackles. Crawford, 28, is the kind of performer who is the glue on a good football team, and you’re not going to find as many smart players. Off the field, Crawford talks CFL as well as anyone, and when his playing days are done, he would make fine ambassador for the league.
KNOCK IT OFF
One reason the Argos were so dominant on defence was their ability to read what was coming from Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant. Knocked-down passes usually are a nice little bonus, but the Argos killed drives by getting in front of four Durant attempts — two each by Ronald Flemons and Byron Parker. And three of those came in the second half, when the home side was trying to climb back into the game.
LINING IT UP
If football games are won along the lines, then give both the offensive and defensive big-time credit. The blocking that led to big holes for Boyd were crucial, while the defensive group didn’t miss sack leader Kevin Huntley. Ricky Foley got his first start on the end, and Flemons moved to the inside, where he was as effective as he has been on the end. Flemons and tackle Eric Taylor both recorded sacks, as did safety Willie Pile and linebacker Jeremy Unertl. The latter, who also had an interception for a touchdown, was a pleasant revelation.
Jamie Boreham was walking with a limp after the game after he pulled a hamstring and his status for Friday’s matchup is unclear, but the Argos are comfortable in using either Justin Medlock or Grant Shaw to handle punting and kicking duties. It can be a little strange how things work out in professional football, as the Argos opted not to bring Eddie Johnson back this season. Johnson’s towering punts averaged 50.6 yards against the Argos and drew gasps from the crowd. Boreham was acquired from the ’Riders because the Argos needed to replace Johnson, and though he has been solid, he doesn’t have the power that Johnson possesses.
EAT ’EM RAW
Football fans loved the fact that the Labour Day Classic between the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats had a significant bearing on the East Division standings for the first time in years. Well, it’s even better that a game involving the clubs in mid-October is going to carry lots of weight. The winner at the Rogers Centre on Friday night won’t have second place in the East wrapped up, but it will take a large step toward securing a home playoff date. No one predicted, at the start of the season, that there was going to be a fight for second place in the final weeks between the Boatmen and the Ticats.