If you would’ve asked an Argos fan at the end of the first quarter their mood with the team tied at three with Hamilton and Toronto starting to get into a rhythm offensively, I’m sure they would’ve been cautiously optimistic.
Three hours later it was just disappointment and deflation among those remaining at BMO Field, as the Ticats outscored the Argos 61-11 the rest of the way to spoil the Argos season opener and move to 2-0 with a 64-14 win.
It was an especially miserable day for the new-look Argonauts offence. James Franklin was pulled after completing just 16-of-26 passes for 211 yards and one interception, star free agent signing Derel Walker held to four catches and 67 yards receiving, and all-star running back James Wilder Jr. didn’t even have a chance to get going as he was only given six carries that led to 12 yards on the ground.
Here’s six thoughts on the game representing each of those carries:
- There were only two words to describe how it felt watching James Franklin behind centre through the game.
While looking composed hitting his primary reads on the opening drive, it all slid downhill from there as an interception thrown right to Simoni Lawrence at the 6:10 mark of the second quarter led directly to a Marcus Tucker touchdown two minutes later.
On the ensuring drive he took a sack deep in Argos territory which led to another quick touchdown as the Cats extended their lead to 20-6 going into halftime.
Franklin was eventually pulled when the game was well out of hand early in the fourth quarter, but remained upbeat post game and looking forward to the challenge of going into Regina to face the Roughriders on Canada Day.
“We can’t lose belief, it’s just the first game of the season,” Franklin said. “There was a lot of mistakes, but can’t lose faith after the first game, we try to learn from it and remember we still have a chance. You have to continue to believe in yourself, I know it sounds pretty cliche but you have to block out all the outside noise, and continue to execute out on the field.”
- One of the biggest reasons why Franklin was unable to sustain drives was due to the lack of cohesiveness on his offensive line.
Of course former captain and anchor Chris Van Zeyl was facing his former team while wearing black and gold after being released by Toronto during training camp. The lack of a strong veteran presence upfront was certainly noticeable as the Tiger-Cats lived in the backfield recording four sacks and more QB hits despite blitzing on less than half their plays.
They were also unable to generate any push in the run game, as Jacques Chapdelaine eventually bailed on giving any carries to James Wilder Jr. in the second half, which Wilder talked about owning up to not just as one position group but as an entire offence.
“We did a lot of shooting ourselves in the foot man. People who understand the game will see that,” Wilder told 3DownNation. “I know I can talk for the offence that we shot ourselves a lot, and made them look like they were doing things to us that we were bringing upon ourselves.”
Simply put, Wilder Jr. should see a lot more touches moving forward as he’s a top five weapon in this league with the ball in his hands. Utilizing him more often should lead to more comfort for whoever is manning the quarterback position.
- While holding sturdy through the majority of the first half, the defence caved in during the second half as they were constantly dealt the hand of short fields and failing to follow through with tackling and finishing plays as the Ticats ran up the score in the second half.
Head Coach Chamblin stressed in his post game press conference that before they hit the road the next few practices will be spent working on tackling and those basic fundamentals.
- The defence was also faced with numerous injuries throughout the game as Shawn Lemon, Abdul Kanneh, Micah Awe and Jermaine Gabriel (who had what looked like a head/neck injury happen on a hit during a Bralon Addison touchdown late in the third quarter, although Chamblin said he thinks he’ll be alright moving forward) left the game for long stretches. Even kicker Ronnie Pfeffer wasn’t able to go in the second half.
With a full eight days off until the Canada Day game in Regina, they will hope to have their full unit back ready to play.
- If there was one positive to take away it would be the play of Armanti Edwards, who led the team with four catches and 73 yards receiving, as well as scoring the only Argonaut touchdown of the day late in the fourth quarter and rocketing me up to fifth in my CFL fantasy League. Cha-ching!
- While there’s no sure way to prove this, Saturday’s game had to be the first Battle of the QEW without a fight between the teams in the history of the rivalry….