September 3, 2023

Hogan: It’s Tee Time For The Argos

Toronto Argonauts defensive back Tarvarus McFadden (20) makes an interception over BC Lions wide receiver Dominique Rhymes (19) during first half CFL action in Toronto on Monday, July 3, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

“It makes my Spidey senses go.”

Defensive back Tarvarus McFadden will be back in the starting lineup on Monday when the Toronto Argonauts meet the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton. But the man known as “Tee Time” won’t be at his usual cornerback position; instead, he’ll be filling in for halfback DaShaun Amos, who suffered an ankle injury last week against Calgary.

McFadden will be at the field, or wide-side halfback spot, closer to the middle of the gridiron than his normal spot at corner. The chance to be closer to the ball on every play is what has increased the flow of the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida native’s “Spidey senses,” though the game will move a little faster than he’s become accustomed to.

“It’s a little different,” he told Argonauts.ca. “I’ve got to turn my brain off from corner and put myself in being in the position one to the inside. It’s definitely different, but as long as I have the guys around me and we communicate, it’s simple.”

Robertson Daniel made the move from corner to halfback this year and admitted it took a while for him to stop thinking and just play the new position, reacting instinctively instead of going through a mental checklist each play.

“It’s definitely different,” said McFadden. “In this league it’s like playing safety (south of the border). Safety is way different from corner because you’ve got to cover, but now you’ve got to fill gaps, you’ve got run responsibilities, but most of all, you’ve got to cover.”

The Argos had options to replace Amos. They could have moved safety Royce Metchie to that spot and played someone else at safety. Qwan’tez Stiggers could have moved inside, and McFadden could have taken his old spot at field corner.

Instead, the decision was made to move McFadden inside, next to Metchie. The man in the middle is comfortable with the move.

“I’ve got the highest praises for him,” Metchie said of McFadden, adding he’s not even slightly worried about the shuffle. “I can see how a lot of people might think that there’s going to be some discrepancies, but since I’ve been here, I’ve played with Tee Time on the field side, so hearing his voice will be just the same.”

Defensive Coordinator Corey Mace is fortunate to have multiple options to fill Amos’ spot. He’s extremely comfortable moving the 6’2” ball hawk inside.

“It’s his experience,” said Mace when asked by Argonauts.ca to explain the rationale behind moving McFadden to halfback. “T-Mac has had a lot of experience for us. He’s worked in the spot throughout the year and has been with this staff. Coaches (Josh) Bell and Will (Fields) do a good job of mixing guys in throughout the year and T-Mac has played some there for us in the past. We’re comfortable and confident he’ll get the job done.”

McFadden exploded onto the football scene in his second year at Florida State. He intercepted eight passes, was named an All-American, won the Jack Tatum Award as the NCAA’s top defensive back, and was a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Award as college football’s top defensive player.

Having that kind of player available to fill-in at a new position is a luxury the Argonauts have put themselves in through successful recruiting.

McFadden intercepted passes in back-to-back games earlier this year, including one in the end zone in Montreal on the game’s final play to clinch a win. But the team’s depth in the secondary has left him on the sidelines as a healthy scratch a couple of times this season, including last week against the Stampeders.

Getting back in the lineup for the Labour Day Classic is just icing on the cake.

“I’ve just been trying to get back on the field,” admitted McFadden. “But I am looking forward to this game. We’re not looking past any opponents, but The Hammer is where the Grey Cup is going down this year. We’ve got to try to make ourselves feel at home right now.”

There are always big plays made on Labour Day that become even bigger because of the moment. McFadden is capable of providing one or two of those plays, even from a new position on the field.