Desperate times for Argos coach

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

WINNIPEG — Jim Barker can’t say for sure if his desperation will result in more exasperation or exultation.

But the Argonauts’ head coach knew he couldn’t wait any longer to try to ignite the passing game in the Boatmen’s offence, and as such, gave himself a greater role this past week.

Whether it leads to something or nothing, Barker will find out Saturday afternoon at Canad Inns Stadium against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“Who knows? We might come out and be as bad as we have been,” Barker said on Friday afternoon. “But I can look back and know that this week we made progress (in practice), and the following week more, and the following week more, and then we have to be ready for Hamilton (in the East semifinal).”

Little concern

Fact is, opposing teams have not had to put in a lot of time worrying about the Argos passing game when preparing to play Toronto. It’s the Cory Boyds and the Chad Owens of Argoland that rankle people such as Blue Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice.

Boyd is going to play on a tender ankle, but still should be a concern, while Owens has had touchdowns on special teams in each of the Argos’ wins against the Blue Bombers this season.

“I know (Boyd) had not practised (this week), but I also know he is a talented football player and those guys usually fight through those things,” LaPolice said. “(Owens) is one of the more explosive guys we have seen in the last couple of years. We have to be assignment-sound, and we have to make sure that when we get an opportunity to tackle him, we do.

“They play good defence and good special teams. That has put them in a position to always be in a game and hang around.”

Owens became an Argo via trade when the Montreal Alouettes decided in June they did not want him anymore, and no one was completely sure what would happen when he changed teams. Now, Owens, who is running away with the combined yards title, is pumped that other clubs have his name in bold in their special teams playbooks.

“I feel good that it gives them something to think about,” Owens said.

“That’s a win for our team. That’s what we want. The more they have to prepare for, the better it is for us. I told the guys, let’s go out and make it three returns in three games against them (for touchdowns).”

Owens and Boyd aside, Barker knows that his team won’t go anywhere in the playoffs other than for a ride down the QEW to Hamilton if quarterback Cleo Lemon and the receivers don’t demonstrate even a modicum of improvement.

Though the Argos were not guaranteed of a playoff spot when Barker met with reporters at a downtown hotel, a post-season berth would have been clinched if the B.C. Lions lost against the Calgary Stampeders late on Friday night.

“We know we are going to be in the playoffs,” Barker said. “Those two teams (the Lions and Edmonton Eskimos) would have to sweep. The concern for us is us. We don’t want to go in (the playoffs) and be a one and out. We want to be able to compete in the passing game and right now we are not. This is about taking what we are doing and doing it better.”

The Bombers don’t have the same post-season luxury. At 4-11, they can’t afford to lose again if they want to cross over into the West.

“We are finally running out of these last-chance parables,” defensive tackle Doug Brown said. “We lose this game and we are playing for pride. That’s not something you want to do in the last two


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