MISSISSAUGA – Almost a year ago, the Argonauts entered Commonwealth Stadium to play a lowly Edmonton Eskimos squad that was struggling to stay in games, let alone win them. The upstart Argos on the other hand were the talk of the league after coming out to a surprising start that was quickly erasing the memory of the previous two dismal seasons. Cory Boyd was making a name for himself and was about to embark on a performance not seen from a Toronto running back in nearly a decade.
Fast-forward to present day and a lot has changed. The Eskimos are now the talk of the league, sitting as the only team with a perfect 4-0 record, after a season that saw them win only three more games than their current total. Boyd is in week three of rehabbing an ankle injury and the Argos are banged up not only in the standings but on the field as well.
However, the Boatmen do have an opportunity Friday night to turn the ship around by knocking off the league’s best when they play at Commonwealth.
Prior to boarding a flight to Edmonton, Jim Barker confirmed to reporters that it will be Dalton Bell getting the nod at starting quarterback as Cleo Lemon nurses the effects of Joe Lobendahn’s hit last Saturday at Rogers Centre.
“I’m excited about going out there and playing these guys,” Bell said of his second career start . “I know a lot of coaches over there on Edmonton’s staff and some of the guys on the team, so I’m [looking forward] to this.”
Bell’s only other start came last October when he took over the team for their week 14 matchup against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Bell couldn’t pull out the win but did show promise in that game, connecting on 16 of 24 passes for 153 yards and rushing for a touchdown on his team’s opening drive. Perhaps the most important stat in that game was zero turnovers he caused; something that could not have been said about his relief effort last week where he turned the ball over three times (two interceptions and one fumble).
With Lemon out, Barker and his team are hoping for a relatively seamless transition offensively considering the circumstances.
“They both have similar skill sets,” he said of Bell and Lemon. “Dalton delivers the ball a bit differently according to the receivers, but we don’t really change what we do.”
Bell’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly will be paramount as his club goes up against an Edmonton team that has been one of the league’s best thus far. That said, the unit has been lenient when defending the pass. They currently sit second-last in the CFL in both Net Passing Yards Allowed (1243) and Average Passing Yards Allowed Per Game (310.8).
“They move around, create a lot of confusion and they have great team speed,” Barker said of the Eskimos defence which is now run under former Argos defensive coordinator and head coach Rich Stubler.
As for Barker’s defence, it will have some shuffling in the secondary as Dee Webb makes his first start as an Argo at halfback in place of Evan McCollough. McCollough is still nursing an injury that occurred in last week’s game. As a result, rookie DB Armando Murillo will make his way on to the active roster for the first time this year.
There was some concern that DB Lin-J Shell may be unavailable as he also sustained an injury last week but he will start in his usual spot defensive back. Brandon Rideau, who was scratched before Saturday’s contest, will likely enter back into the lineup.
The secondary will have one more addition as veteran S Wes Lysack makes his Argos debut while WR Djems Kouame moves to the practice roster.
Kickoff is at 9:30 ET from Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. The game can be seen on TSN, heard on TSN Radio 1050 or followed live on argonauts.ca through CFL Live Game Tracker.
Following Friday’s game, the Argos will board an overnight flight as they begin preparing on Sunday for their next home game on Thursday against the Montreal Alouettes. For tickets, please call 416-341-ARGO (2746) or click here to purchase online.
Wed Jun 12 at 8:00 pm EDT
Investors Group Field
|vs Montreal||Thu Jun 20||7:00 pm EDT|
|vs Hamilton||Fri Jun 28||7:00 pm EDT|
|@ BC||Thu Jul 4||10:00 pm EDT|
|vs Saskatchewan||Thu Jul 11||7:30 pm EDT|
|Full Schedule >|