Argos just need to relax, says Prefontaine

Argos' veteran kicker Noel Prefontaine figures the 2-8 team's season can be saved if it just gets...

Argos' veteran kicker Noel Prefontaine figures the 2-8 team's season can be saved if it just gets its back off the wall and plays more loosely. (Jack Boland/QMI Agency Files)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:27 PM ET

TORONTO - As the most experienced member on the Argos, Noel Prefontaine has seen just about all that there is to see in the CFL.

From win streaks to losing streaks, late-season pushes for the playoffs, runs that ultimately come up short, the punter/kicker known as Pre can relate to just about any situation, good and bad.

And as bad as the Argos have looked, Prefontaine insists the fortunes of the foundering club can just as easily change.

“We find ourselves in a situation where we just need to relax,’’ Prefontaine said as the Argos continue to lick their wounds following Saturday’s 28-6 loss to the host B.C. Lions. “We need to get six wins. I think that’ll get us in the playoffs, somehow.”

Six wins, with eight games remaining, for a team that is 2-8 seems daunting, but stranger things have happened in the strange league that is the CFL.

With their margin for error so thin, all the near-misses from games played will now haunt the Argos, from blown calls by the officials — who curiously made Prefontaine re-kick a successful 51-yard field goal on Saturday — to wasting a 500-yard offensive effort in a loss at Hamilton, the urgency is so high, the Argos must feel anything short of a perfect game will suffice.

It’s not exactly an atmosphere that lends itself to care-free football, where players can just go out and play without fear of looking over their shoulders and wondering if a blown assignment or penalty will cost the team another loss.

“It’s tough having to play playoff football in Week 6,’’ Prefontaine added. “Then again, having played as long as I have, every game should be treated (with equal significance). The situation shouldn’t make you play playoff football, but it puts a lot of pressure on a team.

“Obviously, as our record states, we’re having troubles playing with our backs against the wall. Maybe we need to move from there. Maybe we need to find another spot in the room to where we can come out and play a little better.

“This is on everyone in the locker room, including myself. We need to figure it out.”

Quarterback Steven Jyles showed flashes in his long-awaited Argos debut, making plays with his legs and extending others with his athleticism.

But facts are facts and the Argos offence managed to produce six points, in back-to-back losses to the ascendant Lions, failed to score a touchdown, has yet to establish any kind of downfield passing game and can’t fully take advantage of either Andre Durie or Jeff Johnson.

And when drives are engineered, penalties stop any momentum.

Against the Lions, the Argos tried a fake punt, but Prefontaine’s attempted pass was picked off.

Defensively, the Argos continue to allow too many big plays, including a long completed pass on Saturday on the first play from scrimmage.

Toronto’s inexperience in the absence of experienced defenders such as Kevin Eiben and Jordan Younger are beginning to be felt.

Jason Pottinger’s continued injury absence has hurt and, lest anyone forget, the Argos changed defensive co-ordinators in midstream.

As first impressions go, Jyles is an upgrade from Cleo Lemon, who never could grasp the management of the run game and never knew when to vacate the pocket.

On Saturday, Jyles and the offence did get better, but when push came to shove in the score zone, B.C.’s defence held the upper hand.

“We’ve got to build on this,’’ head coach Jim Barker said. “We’re expecting to grow and get better every week and whatever is going to happen with the playoffs will happen.”

Heading into Week 11, the Argos need to win seven games to match last year’s total — when Barker was named coach of the year — a feat that seems impossible, given the many moving pieces on the team, both in terms of continuity and talent.

For now, it would be foolish to write off the Argos one game into the second half of the season.

But like Prefontaine, Robertson has seen the many ups and downs of a long season and remains hopeful of a turnaround.

“It’s not out of the question,’’ Robertson said of an Argos revival. “But we’ve got to start doing it now because we’re running out of time.”


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