Jon Cornish put together an historic season carrying the mail; setting a single season rushing record for Canadian tailbacks and garnering serious consideration for the Most Outstanding Player award. Drew Tate is out but Kevin Glenn played well when Tate was injured during the regular season and of course, in the Western Final.
Toronto is a different team with Ricky Ray at the helm. There was a drop-off in offensive performance when Ray, the most accurate passer in the league this year, was out of the lineup due to injury. Chad Kackert filled in nicely after the team cut ties with then-league leading rusher Cory Boyd, and Chad Owens proved this year he isn't just a return man.
The Stampeders defence has been one of the league's top units all season long. The group is led by Charleston Hughes, who finished second in the league in sacks, establishing himself among the best defensive linemen in the CFL, and Keon Raymond, who finished tied for second in interceptions, once again proving he's a top DBs.
The aggressive unit lived up to the reputation of a Chris Jones-coached defence. The defence isn't overflowing with big name stars, but rather a bevy of solid contributors highlighted by the likes of MLB Robert McCune, DBs Patrick Watkins and Jordan Younger, and of course, the Kissing Bandit Adriano Belli.
Rene Paredes, rather quietly, has put together one of the most impressive seasons by a kicker in CFL history. Parades connected on 37 of 40 field goal attempts, good for a success rate of 92.5%, less than 2% off Paul McCallum's single season record of 94.3% set a year ago with the BC Lions.
Owens was terrific as the Argos primary return man this season, once again leading the league in combined return yards. His increased role in the offence did not lead to a drop-off in special teams production, as he set the new record for single season combined yards with 3,863.
With Drew Tate sidelined, having veteran Kevin Glenn waiting in the wings softens the blow. When Tate was hurt in the regular season, he guided the Stampeders to a 9-5 record.
If Cornish can carry over his stellar regular season play into the Western Final, that arguably gives Calgary an advantage over every other team.
In close games, a kicker's importance is even greater. The Stamps shouldn't be afraid to use Paredes, one of the most accurate kickers in the league.
After playing sparingly due to injury late in the season, Ray has been impressive in the playoffs. The veteran QB will need one more big game, and history suggests he’s capable of it.
Owens is a threat for a big play every time he touches the ball. Provided he keeps his fumbles in check, the Argos should go to Owens often.
Toronto's young defence has to play aggressive, but must guard against getting too excited. The unit should rely on vets Younger and Belli to set the tone.
The Big Man is 41-35 this season, but came up short in both division finals.
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