‘Scared money don’t make money’: Alouettes’ QB Trevor Harris won’t avoid risks against ballhawking Argos

Photo courtesy: CFL

The Toronto Argonauts’ defence has earned a reputation for timely takeaways in 2022 but don’t expect that to dissuade Montreal Alouettes’ quarterback Trevor Harris from taking a few risks when the two sides meet in the East Final on Sunday.

“If you start thinking about playing scared, there’s the old cliche: scared money don’t make money,” Harris told the Montreal media this week.

“I feel like we’re a dangerous offence to defend as well. We’ve got quite a few weapons, we’ve got a great run game. Our offensive line’s able to come downhill, they’re getting physical now and so we know that we’re going to bring it, but they’re going to bring it as well.”

The Argos dominated in few statistical categories on their way to claiming the top seed in the East Division but takeaways were the one exception. Led by CFL interception leader Jamal Peters, the Boatmen picked off 29 passes in 2022 — 10 more than any other team in the league — and returned five back for touchdowns.

“They’re opportunistic, they do a good job of jumping routes,” Harris acknowledged. “They play a myriad of zones and they mix in their man coverages. They try and keep you guessing in terms of what you’re going to see and what you’re seeing on the field.”

“We know that their defensive backs do a good job of route reading, looking at the quarterback’s shoulders and eyes and I’ve got to make sure that I’m mindful of what I’m doing out there with my shoulders, eyes, feet, and make sure we’re mixing in the run game good enough that we can go out there and execute and be explosive.”

With talented receivers like Eugene Lewis in their arsenal, the Alouettes and their quarterback know that some big plays will be available to them. Only Ottawa allowed more passing yards than Toronto this season, but the margin for error is slim.

Toronto beat Montreal by a single point in both of the games that Harris started against them this season and a turnover at a key moment could be all that’s needed to determine the outcome this time around. It is a fate that the 36-year-old hopes to avoid by doing exactly what he has been doing all year.

“Just focus on going through your reads, trusting your progressions and making sure you’re seeing it clean. I feel like I’ve been seeing it pretty clean through this last probably couple months,” Harris said. “It’s not about thinking about how many interceptions they have. I think it’s about them trying to defend our weapons and we’ve just got to go out there and execute.”

Either way, the Alouettes fully expect to see an aggressive Argos team at BMO Field on Sunday, with each player looking to make a play to avenge their previous losses.

“We know that they’re excited and they want to right a wrong that happened to them last year in the East Final, when they feel like they could have been in the Grey Cup,” Harris noted. “We know they’re going to be hungry. But we’ve got a hungry group as well.”

Hot off their first playoff victory in eight years, the quarterback believes that it will be the intestinal fortitude of an Alouettes team galvanized by hardship that proves to be the difference in the East Final. The Argos pick-happy defence will be little more than a footnote.

“Shoot, everybody knows the story of this year,” Harris insisted. “Us starting 2-6. New head coach. New coordinators on both sides of the football. Different franchise guy at the quarterback position. You’ve got ownership group stuff. There’s just been a lot of things go on and the ability of this team to overcome the adversity and be where we are now I think speaks volumes of the character that Danny Maciocia has put in that locker room.”

“To me, it’s about us putting our character on the line this week.”