The Toronto Argonauts (2-4-0) return to action tonight at the Rogers Centre, with revenge very much on their minds. The Double Blue take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-2-0), who humiliated them at Investors Group Field back in Week 1 of the CFL regular season.
The final score of 45-21 only begins to tell the story of how badly Toronto were outplayed by Winnipeg, now coached by former Argo Mike O’Shea. The Blue Bombers actually appeared to ease off after establishing a comfortable 24-0 lead in the second quarter.
Statistically speaking, Ricky Ray had a fine outing (27-38-283-2-0). However, the reality is he took a while to get going, while his opposite number Drew Willy enjoyed the better performance (19-27-308-4-1) on the night.
It didn’t help that Ray got little assistance on the ground, as the team rushed for just 42 yards. In fairness, the Argos were never in a position to establish the ground attack after falling behind early.
In theory, the Double Blue should fancy their chances of avenging the embarrassing defeat, especially with home field advantage. However, the Bombers have been clutch away from home so far this season, taking a 3-0-0 record into tonight’s game in Toronto.
Regardless of where they’re playing, if the Argonauts are going to win, they will once again be short-handed on offence. I realise injuries are inevitable in football, but talk about the walking wounded!
As we reported last week, 2014 third overall draft pick Anthony Coombs has now joined the casualty list, with head coach Scott Milanovich providing an update to the media yesterday: “The last report I got (on Sunday) is it looks like he’s going to have surgery, which would put him out for the year.”
Linebacker Nick Williams will also miss the remainder of this season with a torn ACL, and the Argos are still without deep threat John Chiles and Jarred Fayson. On the positive side, receiver Terrell Sinkfield is expected to return after missing the last game, while Jason Barnes should be back for the August 23rd game in Edmonton.
Of course, the biggest losses have been Chad Owens and Andre Durie, who were ranked one and two respectively in catches last season in the CFL. Milanovich has provisionally targeted Labour Day as a return date for both, although he admitted Owens has the better chance of being available.
PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR:
Argonauts – Steve Slaton
Blue Bombers – Drew Willy
A predictable selection maybe, but there’s no doubt all eyes will be on the Blue Bombers quarterback. Willy has enjoyed a promising start to his time in Winnipeg, going 5-2-0 and completing over 64% of his passes for 1,965 yards.
However, what gives the Argos hope is that the former Saskatchewan Roughrider has just eight touchdown passes and is coming off one of his worst games of the season. In the 23-17 defeat, Willy threw three interceptions, including a pick-six, and accounted for just 17 points, the Bomber’s second lowest total of the season.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. tonight. It will also represent the debut of the Argonauts new uniforms. Here’s a preview of them. Sort of.
I hate to be the merchant of doom, but I just don’t see the Argonauts winning this one, especially with all their injuries. (Although I have absolutely no problem with being proved wrong!) I do, however, expect a closer game compared to the Week 1 matchup.
One thing that could help the Argos is the fact they’ve had longer to prepare for this one, coming off a bye-week. Meanwhile, the Blue Bombers last played on Thursday night, in the loss at home to the Roughriders, meaning they will be looking to bounce back on a short week.
Final score – Argonauts 24, Blue Bombers 27