Argos lean on their 'hybrid'

Cedric Gagne-Marcoux cools down during Argos practice in Mississauga, Ont., July 21, 2011....

Cedric Gagne-Marcoux cools down during Argos practice in Mississauga, Ont., July 21, 2011. (VERONICA HENRI/QMI Agency)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 PM ET

TORONTO - Game day is Friday, so it must be Cedric Gagne Marcoux’s day to play right tackle.

A couple weeks ago it was left guard. Next week? Who knows?

Good thing he’s versatile. Or a guy could get hurt freelancing like that in the trenches.

Which, speaking of getting hurt, is what got the Argonaut offensive lineman into this rather unique position. Injuries mean the only guy he hasn’t filled in for is that little kid plugging the water-dike with his finger somewhere in The Netherlands. Or, so it seems.

Three of the club’s five starting offensive lineman cruised around the field on a golf cart this week after blowing tires. On the X-rays. Not the golf cart.

When the season began Rob Murphy was at left tackle. Now it’s rookie Edawn Coughman. Gagne Marcoux was feeling cozy in his normal spot at left guard. Now, there’s Jeff Keeping. The right guard was Taylor Robertson; now it’s Joe Eppele. The right tackle, where Marcoux has moved, was Chris Van Zeyl. The only constant has been at centre, with Dominic Picard.

All of which has left Gagne Marcoux jumping around like the proverbial one-armed wallpaper hanger. “I’ve played every position since coming into the CFL. I played a game at left tackle for (Rob) Murphy this year. My own position is left guard. I played some preseason at centre. I played right guard (with the Ticats) and now I’m playing right tackle,” Marcoux said Wednesday. “I guess I’m a hybrid.”

He is more than that. He is also sublimely talented. And, by his own admission, occasionally trying to remember which foot to put forward. It’s hard to blame him.

When he moved from left guard to right tackle last week, there could’ve been dire consequences, including the survival of quarterback Steven Jyles. The Argos lost. Badly. But Gagne-Marcoux graded out quite nicely, thank you.

His reward? This week he gets to face perhaps the most voracious defence an offensive lineman can go up against. “You don’t need to remind me,” Gagne Marcoux said, laughing. (Jason) Vega, (Ken) Mainor, Odell Willis. It doesn’t matter they are ALL s-o-o-o fast! Quick. Winnipeg has been known for its D-line for a long, long time. They’re well-coached. They execute and, man, they’ve got a motor! They run. Like, I’m going in to get my carb supply before the game because I’m going to need some energy.”

Gagne Marcoux laughs. A lot. Willis and his league-high 13 sacks are problematic. Vega and Mainor have seven. And let’s just say the Bombers aren’t getting any charm chool diplomas with the compliments they dish. But, Gagne Marcoux figures it this way: he’s doing what he loves and there’ll be plenty to worry about once he retires to what he calls the “real world.” He’s looking forward to getting married this off-season. And, even a date with the chirping, chest-thumpers from Swaggerville has some job satisfaction.

“Sometimes they say some pretty funny stuff, and you’re always going to have guys who jump around and get hyped. The best thing you can do is not get involved. Do your job. The whole jumpin’ around Wooooo-hooo! thing, you just let them go at it. The worst thing you can do is get mad. Then you get out of your technique and that’s what they want.”

Many players, said head coach Jim Barker, couldn’t handle the ever-changing world of Gagne-Marcoux.

“Cedric is one of those rare guys who’s athletic enough that he can move from one side to the other. Not only guard to tackle but also left to right. At times he gets his feet out of alignment but ... he’s done better than I thought.

“It’s a totally different world (at tackle) because now you’re out in space. At guard you’ve got people around you, you’re blocking bigger players. It’s a more physical position. Outside it’s more finesse and suddenly you’re blocking the Odell Willis’ of the world. Cedric just has such fantastic feet he’s able to make that adjustment.”

Not Barker, not Gagne Marcoux, blame the club’s 4-12 record on instability within the offensive line. A good offensive line involves more than individual skill. There’s a five-man choreography needed to move the ball consistently. And that choreography comes best with familiarity.

It’s a familiarity the Argonauts have not been able to build. “It is very important actually,” said Gagne Marcoux, after prodding. “The line is a team within a team. We have our own chemistry.”

Everything that happens is behind us so you don’t see what happens and we have to rely on each other to be in the right spot ... everything has to be on a trust basis with the guy playing next to you ... calls get changed you have to trust the guy next to you relates, understands. It’s like a dance.”

And, sometimes it is an unfamiliar one. Left, right. One step, two ... “Trust me, the little hamster up there,” said Gagne Marcoux, scratching his head, “is paddling.”


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