Milanovich lets off some steam

Argos head coach Scott Milanovich says there are

Argos head coach Scott Milanovich says there are "a million different reasons" why the team sports a mediocre 7-7 record. (Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:11 PM ET

It takes a lot for Scott Milanovich to lose his patience with the media, but it was tested when he emerged on Wednesday for his daily gathering.

Three times this season, the Argos have had a chance to gain control of the East, unable to close the deal in each instance.

There are myriad reasons why the team has yet to get over the hump, namely a lack of discipline, an offence that’s average at best and special teams that are well below average.

“There’s a million different reasons,’’ said Milanovich. “You can pull out all the negatives, but the fact is we’re 7-7 and we’re one game out of first place.

“Everybody has had negatives and so have we. Is it details? Yes. Is it turnovers? Yes. It’s never just one thing. I can understand why you (media) want me to give you one thing for a big headline, but it’s not the case.”

As is always the case, the truth is often somewhere in the middle.

In the case of the Argos, it’s virtually impossible to pinpoint any one area when so many different areas take turns self-imploding.

Injuries are a fact of life in football, but any team would have difficulty when its starting quarterback and tailback are injured.

The offensive line has played well at times, but the unit lost the line of scrimmage on Monday when Saskatchewan pasted the host Argos.

Defensively, the unit plays on the edge, but on occasion it crosses the line.

Special teams have yet to win a game and time is clearly running out.

The Als returned a missed field goal for a touchdown last month when the Argos lost the game and Ricky Ray.

If the defence isn’t forcing turnovers or scoring touchdowns, the Argos aren’t good enough on offence or on special teams to compensate for a poor defensive effort.

Still, the Argos have a chance to take control of the East with a win on Sunday.

“We’re optimistic because all the goals we want are still achievable,’’ said veteran free safety Jordan Younger. “It’s the best way to look at it, the only way.”

As cliche as it may sound, Younger knows what the Argos must do to put themselves in a position to beat Montreal.

“You do it one practice at the time, one play at a time,’’ added Younger. “We’re not going to beat Montreal tomorrow (Thursday), but what we’re going to do is get ready to beat Montreal tomorrow (Thursday).”

Milanovich took all the heat for Monday’s meltdown, deflecting the attention off his players.

“It just tells you what type of guy he is,’’ added Younger. “He knows and he understands that ultimately he’s the head guy. That’s what leaders do. When things don’t go right, leaders take the blame.

“Now, I’m a leader and I’m a veteran. Coach Milanovich calls the plays, but we play the game. I understand what we did and didn’t do. I definitely respect he would take the blame for us and carry that weight for us. As players we understand he has nothing to do with it. When you cross those white lines and when the whistle blows, it’s us.”

MOVES TO COME?

With so many moving pieces at play, Thursday’s practice in Argoland looms as one of the most important gatherings of the season.

Whether it’s the status of Ricky Ray, Chad Kackert, Spencer Watt or how veterans Ken-Yon Rambo and Ahmad Carroll perform, there’s the potential for a number of roster changes as Montreal comes to town for Sunday’s showdown for first in the East.

Ray (knee), Kackert (ribs) and Watt (ankle) are nursing injuries, while veterans Rambo and Carroll were either nicked or forced to the sideline to provide another look.

Mo Mann bruised his tailbone on Monday, but he’ll have to outperform Rambo for the starting role on Sunday.

Carroll hasn’t played in three games, but his experience will come in handy against Montreal’s experienced offence.

“(Rambo) will get his shot this week to get his job back,’’ said head coach Scott Milanovich. “Same thing for Ahmad.”

Lest we forget, Swayze Waters’ damaged left thumb must also be monitored.

GREEN POWER

The power of Rider Nation has no boundary in its reach and there’s no telling what will happen if Saskatchewan plays in this year’s historic Grey Cup.

TSN released numbers on Wednesday that speak to the influence the Roughriders have on three-down football.

If it weren’t for Rider Nation, a sea of empty seats would have adorned Rogers Centre on Thanksgiving Monday.

As it was, Rider Nation was alive and kicking and screaming, turning one side of the cavernous venue into a mini-Mosaic Stadium.

For most of the afternoon, it was hard to tell who was the home team.

On TV, the game attracted an audience of 1.057 million viewers, the highest regular-season number in the past two years.

If Saskatchewan and Toronto somehow end up meeting in late November, the Grey Cup audience has the potential to set all kinds of records.


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