Much has been made about the struggles of quarterback Cleo Lemon. Among starters who played the bulk of the season, the former Miami Dolphins pivot ranks last in most categories, including yardage (3,433), touchdowns (15) and quarterback rating (78.1). As a team, the Argos averaged just 214 yards per game trough the air, last in the league.Running Game:
Most Outstanding nominee Cory Boyd was voted by his peers to be the toughest player in the CFL. Despite battling injuries on the field and personal tragedy off the field, Boyd captured the rushing title with 1,359 yards. If the Argos are to advance to the East Final in Montreal, the rookie will need to have his best effort against the Tiger-Cats. Receiving Game:
With Lemon's troubles at quarterback, it's no surprise there were no Argos receivers in the top 20 by season's end. To put it in perspective, Jeremaine Copeland led the team in receiving with 639 yards, despite missing four games due to injury. Second on the team was Andre Durie and third was special teamer Chad Owens, who picked up half his 576 yards while Copeland was out. Offensive Line:
With names like Rob Murphy, Dominic Picard and Taylor Robertson, one would expect that pass protection would be a strength of team. However, the Argos gave up almost three sacks per game, adding to Lemon's problems adjusting to the Canadian game. On the ground, the team fared much better, averaging 6.3 yards per rush. Special Teams:
As good as Marcus Thigpen has been for the Tiger-Cats, Chad Owens has been even better. He is the fifth player in CFL history to record 1,000 yards in both punt and kick-off returns and has been the team's most electrifying player. Newcomer Noel Prefontaine, who sat out the season finale in Montreal with an apparent injury, does double duty as punter and kicker and has the league's longest field goal this sasson at 57 yards. On a sour note, standout Bryan Crawford will miss Sunday's game with an adductor injury.Tiger-Cats' Defence:
The Argonauts' lacklustre passing attack will be going up against the Ticats' equally lacklustre passing defence. Hamilton gave up almost 300 yards per game through the air to rank last in the league but the late-season addition of Stevie Baggs has improved the pass rush a great deal. The rushing defence is better but Cory Boyd could cause some problems. Defensive back Bo Smith, who rejoined the team from the NFL in late Spetember, is on the 9-game injured list.
Matt Dunigan says the Argonauts win if... they adhere to their template for success which all season has been:
- 1. Play exceptional defence
- 2. Dominate special teams (rely on Chad Owens for unreal returns)
- 3. Be disciplined, don’t take unnecessary penalties
- 4. Ride Cory Boyd and that outstanding O-line
- 5. The biggest one of them all is to hang onto the football
So if they can stick to that overall game plan then they typically win football games. When Jim Barker made the decision to go with Cleo Lemon this year, it was based on a number of positive qualities including his poise, maturity and ability to make good decisions. When the Argos ship has been sunk this season, it has been when they lost the turnover battle. When the Argos win this battle they are a perfect 7-0, when they lose 1-9. The last time the Argos played the Ticats, the special teams unit was shut down. They must sustain blocks in the East Semi-final to let Owens do his thing! The Flyin' Hawaiian is next to unstoppable and needs to produce some big returns for a shorter field for the offence to capitalize on.
Defensively, they must not jump the first move by the Hamilton Ticats receivers and continue to be patient in the secondary. Lastly, the Argos must ride their nomination for Most Outstanding Player, Cory Boyd. When the Argos can establish the line of scrimmage and get Boyd in a groove, it's been magic and extremely effective to the tune of 1,359 yards on 226 carries. The benefits in doing so are many: keeps the defence rested, lets the O-line deliver shots as opposed to receive and keeps the ball away from Kevin Glenn and his big-strike offence.
Jim Barker chose to rest his top guns in the last regular season game vs Montreal and I believe that will pay big dividends for his troops. The D-line has been banged up lately and the return of Adriano Belli will boost an already fantastic group with the likes of Flemons, Buzbee, Taylor, Foley and if they can get Big Huntley back in uniform, they can cause some serious pressure problems for the Ticats.
Schultz Against The World
The Tiger-Cats have the better quarterback playing at home, and that QB will have his best receiver back in Arland Bruce.
One underestimated aspect of Ticats football is that they have very few stars, as opposed to just a group of good players.
You know that Hamilton will overload the box and try to take Cory Boyd out of the game. They did it previously, they can do it again
TIGER-CATS 29 ARGONAUTS 19... Take the challenge!