How to contain Calvillo?

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 PM ET

Try as he might, and he has, Chip Garber hasn’t come up with a consistently good answer to the Montreal Alouettes offence.

The Argonauts defensive co-ordinator shouldn’t feel too bad about that, however. Men with more experience have been attempting to stop quarterback Anthony Calvillo and his highly talented stable of receivers for years, but usually, have not had much success.

“A lot of teams have tried different things, and they (still) get a lot of yards,” Garber said on Friday, following the Argos’ practice in chilly conditions at Holy Trinity Catholic in Oakville.

“You just hope that when they get in the red zone that you hold them to a field goal. (Calvillo) is the best in the league right now and has been that way for a long time.”

The Argos concede that Calvillo will make nearly every four- or five-yard pass he makes in the East Division final on Sunday afternoon at Olympic Stadium. No quarterback in the Canadian Football League gets the football out quicker than the 38-year-old, and no team in the league has receivers who can hit the mark quicker for short yardage than the Alouettes.

It’s stopping people such as Jamel Richardson, Ben Cahoon and Kerry Watkins and others on a dime after they have caught the football.

“You have to be right there,” linebacker Jordan Younger said. “Don’t let them get any yards after they have made the catch. They feed off that. They get momentum, energy from that.

“They get a little frustrated when it’s four yards and hit, four yards and hit. Make them miss. We’re going to have to be really physical with them.”

Much of the Argos’ defence against Calvillo and pals will come down to timing. If the defensive line can’t knock down Calvillo’s passes — and even on a good day, that might happen only once or twice — the halfbacks will have to come up and aid the linebackers.

Rookie Evan McCollough and all-star Lin-J Shell will be on their toes.

The job might be more difficult if not for the improved play of Younger, who got an interesting phone call from Argos defensive backs coach and former teammate Orlondo Steinauer not long before training camp started in June.

Steinauer was calling to tell him that after six years in the CFL at cornerback, including three as an all-star, Younger was going to be switched to linebacker.

“He was my free safety when I played, and when he asked me, I had no problem, none at all,” Younger said.

“I felt good about it.

“Everything changes (in coming up from cornerback). The looks, the visions, the angles when you move inside.”

Younger has been at the top of his game for about the past six weeks. And his veteran savvy has been a boon.

“The biggest thing against Montreal is communication,” Younger, 32, said. “Knowing where the guy next to you is going to be at, so you can minimize the yards after the catch. They have to move backward, not forward, after the catch.”

One strong point of Garber’s defensive line is its refusal to give up on the ball. That should help keep the yards down.

“You’re not going to be just a pass-rusher against Montreal,” Garber said. “You have to run down field and make a tackle.”

The Argos beat the Alouettes twice in four meetings during the regular season, and Garber doesn’t have to look any further than the scores to know that limiting the Als is a must. Montreal scored a total of 78 points in its two wins against Toronto, but had just 26 points in two losses.

Garber acknowledged the Argos will need a little bit of that slippery intangible known as luck.

“They dropped a few passes that helped us in crucial situations,” Garber said. “That, and better tackling, more than anything.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

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