TORONTO — Stuffing CFL Outstanding Player candidate Jon Cornish twice this season is a pleasant memory for the Toronto Argonauts defence.
Whether they can stop the Calgary Stampeders’ star running back a third time in the Grey Cup game Sunday will be another story.
”It was so long ago that we played them,” linebacker Marcus Ball said.
“Cornish is stampeding through the league right now, so it’s going to be a challenge to try to stop those guys.”
The Argonauts beat the Stampeders in both of their meetings, extending their winning streak against Calgary to five games since 2010. But none of that will matter when the teams line up for the championship game at Rogers Centre.
Toronto won 39-36 in Calgary on July 7, holding Cornish to 39 yards on seven carries. They beat them 22-14 at home on Aug. 18, when the league’s rushing leader got 43 yards on 12 attempts. That 4.2 yards per carry is well below his 5.6-yard average for the season and was a drop in the bucket of his 1,457 rushing yards for a year, a record for a Canadian.
Against most defences, Cornish’s blend of speed and power is more than a handful. In playoff games against Saskatchewan and British Columbia, Cornish ran for 109 and 112 yards respectively.
”That’s what makes him so good — he can catch it out of the backfield, he can make a move, he can run you over, he can go between the tackles,” added Ball. ”That’s what makes him a challenge.”
It’s a challenge the Argonauts will have to meet if they hope to contain a Calgary offence that has scored 30 or more points in each of its last six games, all victories.
Toronto has a dangerous attack of its own led by quarterback Ricky Ray, and a special teams marvel in returner Chad Owens, so much of their fate as they try for a rare Grey Cup win on home turf lies in how the defence holds up against Calgary veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn and his array of weapons.
”They’re so balanced and can attack you in so many different ways,” said veteran safety Jordan Younger.
“It starts with Cornish. He controls the line of scrimmage with the run game. Off of that, it opens up the (receivers) to get the ball.”