The CFL has another light schedule this weekend as the final days of August and summer are both very close to the exit sign.
The final four of August CFL teams play tune up games before the traditional Labour Day weekend show puts a big wrap on summer next week. This weekend will feature a couple of inter-divisional games with a little less curb appeal than the Labour Day opponents.
Tonight’s game pits the Toronto Argonauts against the Calgary Stampeders in Toronto’s Rogers Centre and baseball emporium.
One would think that a brutal team like the Argos would be a lock for the loss column in a game with the Calgary Stampeders. Last year the Stamps were a machine as they rolled over everybody in their way on the back nine of the season en route to a Grey Cup. One would think that the heart, soul and guts of the 2008 Calgary squad are still left on the team and the Argos will get torpedoed once again at home.
I don’t agree.
There are missing pieces in the Calgary Stampeder puzzle this year and one of the bigger pieces is their defense against the run. Last year the Stamps had an aggressive front four who shut down the run and exerted pressure on quarterbacks. Jo Juan Armour anchored the linebackers, beat up opponents rather than teammates, and all was well in Stampeder-land in 2008.
This year teams have been able to run on the Stamps and the new D guys in camp indicate that coach Hufnagel is very concerned about the problem. However, the Stamps will face the Argos without inside guy Mike Labinjo again this weekend and the Argo run game will still be a concern for the Stamps. Tailback Jamal Robertson has been a force at times for the Argos in an otherwise pathetic Toronto offense.
The Argos are stone cold killers on defense and they thrive on controlled violence.
Conservative ball control offense and a bloodthirsty defense will give the Argos their first home win since George W. Bush started to phone moving companies last year.
The other game has the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Edmonton against the Eskimos. The Eskimo offense has come to life in the past few games because they added “offensive consultant” Kevin Strasser to their coaching staff. Strasser was their first and best choice for offensive coordinator over Rick Worman and the Esks leapt at an opportunity to get him. Strasser will save Worman’s job long enough to replace him.
The Eskimos have found their offense and now can run with anybody in a shootout, but they will miss the pass and run abilities of Calvin McCarty against Hamilton. This guy has been money for the Esks anytime he gets within a long shadow of the goal posts. His contribution has been a big part of the touchdown package for this team.
Expensive linebacker Mo Lloyd will also miss Saturday night’s game and that may be a problem for the Eskimo run defense against newly discovered Ticat tailback sensation Deandre Cobb.
The Tiger Cats will win on Saturday night against the Eskimos. A bigger than average ‘Cat front seven has been tough on opponent O-lines and Hamilton has a much improved offense in 2009.
See you on Tuesday.
Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writter who’s CFL column appears in the Advocate on Tuesdays and Fridays and can be reached at mystarcollectorcar.com