September 22, 2017

Hogan’s Quick Hits: Week 14 vs. Montreal

Cassius Vaughn (26) of the Toronto Argonauts and BJ Cunningham (85) of the Montreal Alouettes during the game at BMO Field in Toronto, ON, Saturday, August 19, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Keeping opponents honest

The Argos were entertaining in their win last week against Edmonton, with one aspect of their game garnering the most attention.

Rushing for 231 yards is far from the norm, but with a heavy dose of James Wilder Jr., the Argos were able to establish themselves as a team that can run the ball.

Don’t expect the Boatmen to become a ground-oriented attack though. A 200-yard rushing game is not the norm in the CFL, but what it’s done is open up a ton of possibilities.

Last Saturday’s game may have caught Edmonton a little off guard. Teams expect the Argos to be a pass-heavy offence because that’s exactly what they’ve been. They entered last week at the bottom of the league in rushing yards.

Montreal won’t be surprised if Toronto tries to establish the run this week, nor should they be. They have to respect the fact that Argos are capable of that kind of performance. That said, the Alouettes shouldn’t be surprised if the Double Blue comes out throwing early and throwing often. That’s been the club’s offensive identity this season.

The best thing about last week is that it shows the Argos can actually run the ball if they need to. It opens up all kinds of possibilities down the road.

A diversified offence keeps opponents honest, and that’s nothing but a good thing.


Lion on the loose

Last week the Argos used an interesting personnel set on the goal line. They employed Chris Kolankowski as a full back in their jumbo package.

The 6-2, 292-pound rookie out of York hasn’t played much this year, and in fact isn’t in the lineup this week as Corey Watman returns. It was more than a little surprising – okay, it was shocking – to see the Etobicoke native, a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft, lined up in the backfield.

Declan Cross often lines up in that position on the goal line, but the Argos went really big last week. When Kolankowski was in, Cross lined up as a tight end on the right side, and threw a key block on S.J. Green’s one-yard TD catch.

Keep an eye out this week to see if Cross returns to the fullback spot or if the team goes with a bigger body.

Kolankowski wasn’t the only big man to make a contribution in a non-traditional sense.

If you watch the replay of the Martese Jackson 125-yard TD return on a missed field goal, you’ll see a key block thrown at the 21-yard line right in front of the Argo bench.

That block was thrown by defensive tackle Dylan Wynn.

Wynn lined up on that play as the left tackle. After the kick he sprinted across the field and was able to get to the sideline, turn his back to the bench, and throw a block that sealed the lane for Jackson to head down the sideline.

It was a fantastic effort to get there, particularly from a 283-pound tackle who started that play on the far side of the line of scrimmage.


Teamwide buy-in

A lot was made, and deservedly so, about the way Brandon Whitaker handled being bumped from the roster last week for James Wilder Jr. Far less attention was given to another group that bought into the team-first concept.

Among receivers, only Armanti Edwards caught more than three passes in the Edmonton game as the aerial attack took a rare back seat to the running game, something not lost on the head coach.

“They were really selfless as well,” said Marc Trestman. “They didn’t get the targets, they didn’t get as much productivity as they’re normally used to and I thought they were relentless in their work on the perimeter and doing the things necessary to help the run game.”

The term ‘diva receiver’ is thrown around a lot these days, but the Argos receiving corps didn’t play that card after the game. There seems to be a full buy in from every unit on the team.


New kids in town

There are a couple of new faces starting for the Argos this week.

Speedster Kendall Sanders comes off the practice roster and will start at the ‘Z’ receiver spot. The former Texas Longhorn and Arkansas State Red Wolf will keep defences honest.

He not only brings big-play capability to the position, but it should help open up things underneath a little bit more.

And Mitchell White will start at the field halfback spot in the secondary. He won a Grey Cup ring as a starter for the Redblacks last year after spending his first two seasons in Montreal.

White had signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but was released in mid-August and signed with the Argos just over a week ago.

These could be key additions moving forward.


A new toy

It’s not like new offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch has been away from the CFL for a long time, as he was last on the Argos staff for the 2015 season. That’s doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a significant change in the interim.

“It was the first time I’ve ever had the chance to have film on the sidelines on the iPad,” the coach told “It was a unique coaching experience for me to be able to watch the video with them and make some corrections.”

What was the biggest advantage of the technology?

“I think it was just confirmation of things I saw from the sideline,” he continued. “It just enabled everybody to see the same thing, because the players aren’t able to see outside of what is going on in their own blocking scheme, so it was a great resource.”

With the way his group played last week, it looks like the iPad worked.