Stampeders resume action against Argonauts
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - After sitting idle last week, the Calgary Stampeders are back this weekend, as they visit the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre.
On the road for the first time in 2014, the Stamps enjoyed some time off after sticking it to Montreal in the season opener back on June 28 in a 29-8 final at home. Calgary is seeking to move to 2-0 and keep pace with fellow Western Division members, Winnipeg and Edmonton, which already have two victories to their credit.
In the opener, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell showed quite a bit of poise in the pocket as he moved to 4-0 as a starter in his CFL career. Mitchell clearly out-dueled Montreal's Troy Smith as the former Walter Payton Award winner from Eastern Washington converted 16-of-25 passes for 313 yards and a pair of scores, although he was heavily aided statistically from a 102-yard major to Maurice Price.
Running back Jon Cornish took some serious hits from the Montreal defense in that first go-around, but still managed to post a game-high 67 yards and a score on 14 carries.
The reigning Most Outstanding Player in the CFL and the top Canadian in the league the last two seasons, Cornish finished with a league-leading 2,157 yards from scrimmage a year ago and was second in combined yards with that same number. The punishing back also paced the CFL in majors with 14 in 2013, all but two of those coming on the ground.
However, news on Cornish as of Tuesday had him questionable for this contest, as he missed his second day of practice following concussion protocol testing after taking a hard hit from Montreal's Kyries Hebert in the opener.
Mitchell may have gotten away with a big play and the fact that there is very little tape on him to this point in his CFL career, but Cornish is clearly someone that the Toronto defense will have to keep an eye on coming out of the backfield this weekend.
Under the direction of Kevin Glenn last season, Calgary was the top-scoring team in the league with 30.5 ppg, but a good bit of that had to do with the performance of Cornish, so at least that piece of the puzzle is still intact for 2014.
As for the Argonauts, their first outing of the new season wasn't as positive as they succumbed to an aggressive Winnipeg group, 45-21. With a couple extra days to prepare for Saskatchewan in Week 2 action, Toronto got it all together and ripped apart the Roughriders at home by a final of 48-15 over the weekend.
Ricky Ray had another outstanding day under center as he converted 29-of-37 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns, one of those scores going to Chad Owens finished with 159 yards on 11 receptions and 89 yards on six punt returns. Ray, who has completed just under 75 percent of his passes in two games and has an efficiency rating of 124.9, was named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week.
As part of an offensive barrage that generated a massive 568 yards, Toronto running back Curtis Steele also played a key role in the easy victory for the hosts as he ran for 59 yards and scored twice on eight carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, while Toronto did surrender a hefty 447 yards, outside of permitting a pair of majors in the third period, the squad played well. It certainly didn't hurt that a portion of the 23 points scored by the Argos in the fourth quarter came courtesy of a 108-yard interception return for a touchdown by Antwaun Molden in the final minutes.
Unfortunately, not all the news was good for the Argos during their victory, as Andre Durie, who caught five passes for 77 yards, suffered a major injury. On Monday it was confirmed that the slot back, who was named the Canadian Player of the Week, had a broken clavicle and would be out for the next six weeks.
Durie appeared in all 18 games a season ago and put up career numbers with 986 yards and three touchdowns on 92 receptions, and another 107 yards on 16 rushing attempts. With Durie on the sidelines for close to two months, expect to see Ray seeking out Owens, Spencer Watt and John Chiles even more moving forward.
Despite being the target of every defense he lines up against, Owens again leads the league in combined yards with 419 and is third in yards from scrimmage (237).
Taking into consideration only regular season matchups dating back to 1961, the series between the squads is currently knotted at 42-42-1. Toronto, which won the most recent encounter in September by a score of 33-27 on the road, has taken six of the last seven meetings.
These teams played twice last season, with each winning on the road. The Argos have a road trip to Calgary scheduled for Sept. 13 during Week 12 action this year.
07/09 10:47:59 ET