September 29, 2017

Hogan’s Quick Hits: Week 15 at Hamilton

Malcom Williams (82) of the Toronto Argonauts during the game against the Montreal Alouettes at BMO Field in Toronto, ON, Saturday, August 19, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

A beautiful play

It was just one play, but it was something to behold.

With just over 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter last Saturday, the Argos started a drive on their own 40-yard line with the ball on the left hash mark. They had Jamal Campbell as a tight end on the right side.

James Wilder Jr. was lined up directly behind Ricky Ray in the pistol. Martese Jackson lined up deep in the slot, then crept in and stood to the left of Ray, leaving them in an offset-I formation.

When the ball was snapped they faked to Wilder as Jackson sprinted behind the offensive line and headed to the right flat. S.J. Green lined up as the only receiver on the left side and ran a crossing route to the right. Ray started stepping that way as well and was zoned in on Jackson.

Everyone assumed that this was a pass intended for Jackson, including all three Montreal linebackers, who were all focused on the diminutive speedster and were now all on the same side of the hash marks.

Then the beauty of the play emerged. Ray looked off Jackson and threw a short pass to Wilder, who had released to the left flat. He caught it behind the line of scrimmage. Three offensive linemen then took off downfield.

There was not one defender anywhere near Wilder, except for defensive end Gabriel Knapton, who was five yards behind Wilder and had no chance in a footrace with the Argos running back.

Tyler Holmes didn’t hit anyone until he was at his own 52-yard line, Sean McEwen and Corey Watman didn’t see a white jersey until the centre hit his man at the Montreal 52, a full 17 yards downfield.

Wilder didn’t get knocked down until he reached the Alouettes 25-yard line, a gain of 40 yards.

To some, it was just another long play. To anyone who enjoys the Xs and Os of the game, the execution of that play was beautiful to watch.


Ratio juggling

Eyebrows were raised when Chris Van Zeyl was seen in a walking boot at practice on Tuesday. Meeting with the media afterward, Trestman said it was not a new injury and was being treated as day-to-day.

“It’s been an ongoing thing with him the entire year,” said the coach. “It was activated a little bit more in (Saturday’s) game toward the latter parts of the game.”

Van Zeyl will be replaced at right tackle by Brandon Washington, a second-year Argo from Miami who stayed in his hometown to play his NCAA ball at “The U,” where he was a First Team All-ACC player. After kicking around the NFL for four seasons, Washington has spent most of his time in Toronto as a reserve on the active roster.

The addition of an import on the offensive line means another Canadian starter is needed elsewhere, so lining up at the ‘Z’ receiver spot against the Ticats will be Maple Ridge, B.C. native Malcolm Williams.

Williams, like Washington, spent last season on the practice roster.

There were two low-profile receivers at training camp who were very difficult to ignore. Both were Canadian, and the chance of a unicorn sighting at the York facility was greater than seeing one of the pair drop a pass.

One was Jimmy Ralph, the other was Williams.

Both earned a spot on the practice roster. Ralph is now getting an opportunity to play with Anthony Coombs on the injured list, while Williams has seen limited playing time.

He’s been targeted 12 times, catching nine with no drops. The former Langley junior and UBC product has averaged 11.7 yards per catch. He had a four-catch performance against Ottawa in Week Five.

At 6-3 and 220 pounds, Williams presents a size mismatch for opposing defenders, and with the new-look running attack his blocking skills could be utilized, making him particularly valuable in the red zone.

The ‘Z’ spot has been a revolving door of late. In the last four games Jeff Fuller, Chandler Worthy, Kendall Sanders and now Williams have all started there.

The Argos may soon realize their man has been there all along.


A Coach, his frozen treats and his television

Earlier this week on the addition of cornerback Mitchell White was discussed. Sometimes while writing an article there are quotes that could be included, but for whatever the reason they don’t fit the story. This column allows to share some of those quotes.

In the article, it was mentioned that the free agent came to Toronto largely because of two conversations he had with defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin, who had gone home to scorching hot Arizona during the bye week, when those chats took place.

What White may not have realized at the time was he was interrupting the coach in the middle of some ‘me’ time.

“This was on the bye week and it was probably about nine or ten o’clock my time,” recalled the coach. “I was having a Free-zee Pop and had just put the kids to bed and I said ‘Hey man, you better be real good, ‘cause you’re messing with my TV time.’”

Message to future Argo defensive players, do not mess with Coach Chamblin and his ice-cold treats. Either that, or pick off two passes in your first game, then all is good.


The ping pong ball

The Argos injury problems on the defensive line and in the secondary are well documented. Rico Murray is the only member of the secondary who has played every game. He’s seen time at both corners and at both halfback spots this year and depending on matchups may even see some time at the ‘Sam’ linebacker spot in Hamilton with Cassius Vaughn out of the lineup.

The former Ticat said that he’s certainly kept busy.

“It’s a long season,” Murray admitted to, “But when you just focus on your one opponent that you have that weekend, you have only three opportunities to go out there and sharpen up your tools at practice.”

The Cincinnati native says that the four-and-a-half hour daily window allowed by the CFL flies by.

“Really the big picture makes it seem like it’s a lot of time,” Murray explained, “But it’s really not. We take it upon ourselves to put in the extra work when we’re at home or through group chats. We’re all doing our homework so we can be the most competent bunch going into game day.”

Whatever the group has been doing has been working as the secondary has played exceptionally well despite the unusual amount of injuries.