OTTAWA — Adding a strong running game to quarterback Ricky Ray's pass attack helped make the Toronto Argonauts a more dangerous offensive team in the second half of the CFL season.
Now they hope to use James Wilder Jr.'s explosive running to keep the Calgary Stampeders defence off balance in Sunday's Grey Cup game.
Wilder took over from veteran running back Brandon Whitaker late in the campaign and became a threat both on the ground and in the air for the Argonauts. He led the team with 872 rushing yards and a league-leading average of 7.1 yards per carry.
He also caught 51 passes for 533 yards. And he made a spectacular grab on third-and-five on the last-minute drive that gave Toronto a nervy 25-21 win over Saskatchewan.
"We try to play to our strengths," Trestman said Friday. "We injected James in our lineup.
"I had no idea James would be as productive as he was. He had to earn that job. Until he was ready to protect the quarterback he wasn't going into games. And (general manager) Jim (Popp) kept telling me 'This guy can play.' I credit Jim with that. He gave me courage to insert James in the lineup because, when I came in here late I had no information about any of the players. I got to know them as we went along."
Trestman said it also helped that the offensive line began the jell late in the season.
Wilder said establishing a ground game forces opposing defences to "pick their poison" — either load up the line to stop the run or stay back to stop Ray's equally dangerous passing attack.
"Things weren't working with the old game plan," said Wilder, who was named the CFL's outstanding rookie on Thursday night. "The coaches drew up something else and we've been bringing more success to the team.
"Once you establish the run game, defences have to respect it and then they have to fill the box. And when they do that, we have a great receiving corps and the greatest quarterback of all time (Ricky Ray). He's going to pick the defence apart. So you have to almost pick your poison as a defence. If you load the box or don't, it's going to help the run game or the pass game."
The Argonauts hope that has made them a better squad than the one that lost both of its regular-season meetings with Calgary in August.
But Wilder will be tested by Calgary's defence, which allowed the league's fewest yards (314.7) and points (19.4) per game this season.
The Argonauts practised outdoors at TD Place on Friday after two days of workouts that were sheltered from the weather in a bubble field at the University of Ottawa.