Toronto Argonauts face tough challenge to tame B.C. Lions

Henoc Muamba #10 of the Toronto Argonauts pursues a BC Lion ball carrier during the second half at BMO Field. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
Henoc Muamba #10 of the Toronto Argonauts pursues a BC Lion ball carrier during the second half at BMO Field. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Argonauts head out west looking to build off their first win of the season as they get set to take on the B.C. Lions.

Heading out on their first road trip of the season, the Toronto Argonauts know the areas they need to improve on and the B.C. Lions will be an interesting challenge for them.

The Argos came away with a 20-19 win in their home opener over the Montreal Alouettes but it could have gone sideways if David Cote hit a 21-yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the game. There were some bright spots that the team can carry over but obvious areas of improvement including on offence.

In his assessment of where the offence is right now, head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said that the offence graded it as a “C” saying that a lack of turning drives into touchdowns has been a focus.

“This week will say a lot. Are we going to take the next step and find a way to improve on offense?” Dinwiddie said. “We’ve been decent, but not great.”

Running back Andrew Harris will be on a pitch count as he is still dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of the fourth quarter against Montreal. This will put more pressure on quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to finish drives through the air.

Fortunately, the Argos defence has picked up from where he left off from last season even though they have another defensive coordinator calling the plays. Against a Lions team that put up 59 points in their first game of the season, Toronto isn’t looking at the number of points scored but how they can make life more difficult for Canadian quarterback Nathan Rourke.

“We want to test him, see how much he can do, how much he can read,” Henoc Muamba said. “We want to test him, see where he is and make adjustments during the game.”

Muamba added that running back James Butler will also be a focus considering he had an impressive outing against Edmonton. He also believes that the Elks gambled quite a bit on defence.

“It’s Chris Jones being Chris Jones. It’s high risk, high reward and unfortunately, they were risking a lot and they lost on a lot because there were a lot of details that weren’t ironed out,” Muamba explained. “Rourke did a good job managing the game but we also did see that he missed a few throws. We want to see if he can read down the field and try to move as much as we can.”

The Argos know they were fortunate to come away with the win against Montreal and weren’t satisfied with their effort. The Lions will take advantage of any miscues and details will be important especially if they are hoping to contain dynamic receiver Lucky Whitehead.

In Week 1, the 30-year-old had six catches for 110 yards and still figured to be a force in the return game.

“He just explosive, reminds me of a younger me back in my prime,” said receiver Brandon Banks. “He’s a very athletic guy you definitely want to try to keep it a few guys around.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how the secondary tries and contain Whitehead but it won’t be up to one player to get the job done either.

“The challenge is covering him as a team, being in the right spots you’re supposed to be and not really trying to do one on one-or-one but trying to stop them collectively,” defensive back Shaq Richardson explained. “We all just have to do our jobs and we should be able to stop them.”

The last time Toronto played at B.C. Place was during a tough season in 2019 and a 55-8 loss to the Lions led to sweeping changes to the Argos front office with Michael “Pinball” Clemons deciding to join the team as general manager. Last season, they found a way to beat the Lions in overtime at home but haven’t faced Rourke before.

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The Argos are 5.0 point underdogs heading into Saturday’s game which is quite generous for the Lions so if you expect this to be a close game then you might want to pick Toronto to cover.