Toronto Argonauts: 4 storylines ahead of matchup against Redblacks

Kurleigh Gittens Jr. #19 of the Toronto Argonauts celebrates after a long touchdown run after a catch in the first half of the game between the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images)
Kurleigh Gittens Jr. #19 of the Toronto Argonauts celebrates after a long touchdown run after a catch in the first half of the game between the Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders. (Photo by Brent Just/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Argonauts look to improve their position in the CFL’s East Division as they get set for a tough challenge from the Ottawa Redblacks.

After a stretch of games against the dreaded West Division, the Toronto Argonauts return home as they get set for a crucial stretch in their schedule.

Up first is a date with the Ottawa Redblacks who have yet to record a win this season but have been close on many occasions. This is not a game the Argos can take lightly considering how many close games they have been in.

The team continues to battle injuries with DaVaris Daniels not expected to play on Sunday, head coach Ryan Dinwiddie told Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun. That’s a tough hit to the offence but it also provides more targets to other receivers who stepped up in the win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

With that being said, here are the storylines to watch heading into Sunday’s matchup against Ottawa.

Andrew Harris looks to continue dominance after milestone game

Andrew Harris has done pretty much everything but get into the endzone for the Argos.

It was a day of celebration for Harris who became the first Canadian running back and just the sixth player in league history to reach 10,000 rushing yards.

The accomplishment would have been overshadowed if the Argos were unable to complete the comeback in the fourth quarter. Being able to rely on Harris on the ground but also as a threat in the passing game makes Toronto’s offence tougher to play against as he finished with 188 combined yards in Regina.

Once the Argos find a way to get Harris going in the redzone, it should help with the team’s struggles at the goal line.

Argonauts self-inflicting mistakes remain a red flag

On the stat sheet, Toronto dominated almost every aspect of their game against Saskatchewan. The scoreboard said otherwise as the team picked up the 31-21 win that was secured with two late touchdowns (including one on a late fumble to end the game).

The Argos made a mindboggling decision to try a 61-yard field goal end the first half that would get taken back for a touchdown by Mario Alford. It was a tough position to put Boris Bede and the return team in as it was a tough kick to make and a tougher kick-return to defend considering how far back they were.

There aren’t many teams that can come away with a win after conceding five turnovers. Toronto got away with it against a shorthanded Roughriders team but against stiffer competition, they likely won’t be so lucky.

Some of that responsibility falls on the players but the coaching staff also bears some blame as they have to find a way to get the team to learn from their mistakes.

Defence continues to be backbone of team

The Argos owed much of their success this season to the way their defence has stepped up when the team needs them to.

It was the reason Toronto came away with the win in Touchdown Atlantic and it provided the offence with a big assist to earn a season sweep of Saskatchewan.

Other than the 44-3 blowout against the B.C. Lions, the Argos defence has held firm allowing 25 or fewer points. It was a big part of the team’s success last season and it looks like it continues this season despite many changes with a new co-ordinator and some new additions.

Against Ottawa, the defence will have to try to contain a Redblacks’ offence that isn’t short of weapons. Of course, they won’t have Jeremiah Masoli at quarterback which should give the Argos an edge, especially their defence.

Some might forget that against Evans last season, Toronto forced quarterback Caleb Evans to throw three interceptions. There still might be a chance to see Nick Arbuckle in this game but head coach Paul LaPolice said he needs to get comfortable in the offence.

Argonauts not planning to take Redblacks lightly despite record

Many would call this a trap game for the Argos but they know all too well the importance of getting wins against East opponents.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson is 6-0 against Ottawa in his career but he reminded reporters that he is not one to look at personal achievements. It’s an important mindset given how different both teams are from last season.

“We know they have their backs against the wall,” Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said of the Redblacks. “They’ve been in every single football game and had opportunities to win a lot of them. So we know they’re going to be a tough opponent and they’ll be coming out guns blazing.”

The Argos remain focused on playing a full game from start to finish, especially on offence where the team has been prone to slow starts. With a chance to play four of the next five games at home, this is a big opportunity for Toronto to find their rhythm on offence and will see a lot of the same teams in that stretch too.