CFL Preview - Toronto (1-4) at Montreal (1-3)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Friday, August 1, 7 p.m. (ET).
GAME NOTES: The Toronto Argonauts try to shake off an abysmal effort last
weekend as they challenge the Montreal Alouettes in an Eastern Division
showdown at Percival Molson Stadium on Friday night.
During the second week of the season the Argonauts destroyed the Saskatchewan
Roughriders at home by a score of 48-15, but last Saturday night the Riders
were ready for retribution, clobbering Toronto in a 37-9 final at Mosaic
Stadium. The Argos were without offensive stars Chad Owens and Andre Durie,
both of whom are now on the six-game injury list.
Then again, this is a Toronto group which has now lost three straight and four
of the first five games on the campaign. While that may sound like a disaster,
the good news for the Argos is that not a single team in the division has more
than one victory heading into Week 6 action. In fact, the Argos might be
listed in last place in the standings, but with two points they are tied with
all three of the other clubs in the division.
Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray, one of the most accurate passers in the league
the last few seasons, was beaten up pretty badly by the Saskatchewan defense.
In that first meeting of the season Ray threw for more than 400 yards and
three touchdowns, but he had no such luck on Saturday night.
Under constant pressure, Ray hit on 23-of-35 passes for 221 yards and was
intercepted twice, including on the very first play from scrimmage. Ray was
sacked three times and fumbled the ball away twice, leaving the Argos little
chance of competing with a Saskatchewan squad that was seeking to exact
Kicker Swayze Waters was the lone bright spot for the visitors as he knocked
through all three of his field-goal chances.
Montreal caught a break in the schedule last week, which hopefully gave
quarterback Troy Smith some added time to work on his craft. Of all the
regular starters at this position, Smith, a former Heisman Trophy winner at
Ohio State (2006), has both the weakest completion percentage (.487) and
lowest efficiency rating (.649).
Trying to take some of the pressure off Smith is running back Brandon
Whitaker, who is currently third in the league in rushing with 268 yards, but
he has just one touchdown on 49 carries. Unfortunately, since 2011 when he
generated a career-high 1,381 yards on the ground and another 638 yards
through the air, Whitaker has failed to maintain that level of production.
It should come as little surprise that Montreal, which is last in the league
in scoring with just 17.5 ppg, doesn't have a single player with more than
one major. The team is a distant ninth in yards per game (263.3), while giving
up 354.2 ypg which is third from the bottom in that category as well.
Toronto comes in with 22.0 ppg on offense, placing it in the middle of the
pack, but the way that Ray was treated last week, in conjunction with the loss
of several key assets, the Argos are in some serious trouble for the time
being. Ray is still the league's leader in passing yards with 1,501 and has
hit on close to 70 percent of his attempts, but he has almost as many INTs
(four) as he does aerial TDs (six).
The loss of Owens is especially painful given that he still ranks fourth in
the league in combined yards (574) and is recognized as one of the most
electrifying players the league has seen in quite some time. With the
struggles on offense of late, expect the Argos to again call on Waters, the
third-highest scorer among kickers (50 points) to help keep them competitive.
Taking into consideration only regular-season matchups dating back to 1946,
the Als own a 110-85-3 advantage in the series with Toronto. Last November
Montreal managed to squeeze out a 23-20 victory at Rogers Centre, giving the
Als four victories in the last six encounters.
With added time to prepare and heal nagging injuries, the Als are in the
perfect position to take down the Boatman, particularly since Toronto is again
without several key players and will be in that situation for weeks to come.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 25, Toronto 20
07/30 10:31:15 ET
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