Ben’s Breakdown: how Ryan Dinwiddie avoided a Gatorade shower after Toronto’s record-tying win

Courtesy: CFL on TSN

I’ve seen enough football that something pretty unique has to happen for me to raise my eyebrows. That happened three times this weekend in the form of two astonishing interceptions and some amusing sideline antics. Naturally, I want to break them all down.

Gatorade shower

Toronto Argonauts’ head coach Ryan Dinwiddie did not want anything to do with the Gatorade shower that came his way following the team’s historic victory on Saturday night in Ottawa. No coach really wants to get soaked in ice-cold Gatorade, but when executed properly by the players, they don’t generally have a chance to avoid it. As usual, Dinwiddie was a step ahead of everyone else.

There were actually three attempts and three different coolers involved, but with great awareness, quick feet, and a timely stiff-arm, Dinwiddie managed to avoid them all.

The first attempt was well planned, but the timing and execution were ultimately poor. Wynton McManis, Andrew Harris, and Chad Kelly appeared to be the primaries involved. Kelly had contain responsibility to Dinwiddie’s left, while Andrew Harris and Wynton McManis set the shelf.

Without being in meetings or in the huddle, I can’t say with absolute certainty where to place the blame, but to my eye, either Harris and McManis arrived at the splash point too early, or they took too long to execute the splash.

As photographers started to gather and the cameras zoomed in, Dinwiddie’s Spidey sense alerted him to the pressure closing in from behind. He turned just in time to see McManis and Harris raise the cooler above their heads. Dinwiddie executed a back door escape and Kelly blew contain, not realizing his coach was prepared to run onto the field to avoid being soaked.

Now on red alert, Dinwiddie knew more heat was coming when he looked up and saw a big grin on Brandon Calver’s face. The former quarterback quickly spun and landed a powerful stiff arm on Cam Phillips’ cooler, and then a second, which caused orange Gatorade to spill all over Phillips.

With Harris closing in for a second attack, Dinwiddie accelerated out of trouble, and the sudden change of direction caused Harris to lose control of the cooler and splash himself with ice-cold water. At the end of the day, Dinwiddie wanted it more, plus he was wearing a white Argos jacket that has been sold out for months.

Helmet doink

With just over four minutes remaining in the game and hanging on to a one-point lead, Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ quarterback Taylor Powell flung a pass towards Terry Godwin II while facing pressure, but it ricocheted off Dionte Ruffin’s helmet and popped high into the air, eventually landing in the arms of Montreal’s Kabion Ento.

Anticipating pressure, Powell called Kiondre Smith into the backfield to help Sean Thomas Erlington in a max-protect scheme, sending only four receivers into the pattern. Isolated wide to the right, Godwin ran an over route, which may have been a sight adjustment in response to Montreal’s blitz. Godwin had a step on Ruffin’s man coverage, but Powell’s off-balance throw sailed off target, striking the trailing defender in the helmet.

Interceptions off cover zero are rare, and even more so by a player not covering the intended receiver. Tipped passes are usually picked off by zone defenders because they’re facing the quarterback and can see the ball’s path from start to finish. On this play, it was the sheer height of the deflection that allowed Ento to come down with it.

Ento had actually lost Chris Osei-Kusi on a deep dig route, and as he checked back to see if the ball was coming, he saw it deflect high into the air and broke to make the play. Seven plays later, the Alouettes kicked the game-winning field goal.

Pierce’s pick-six

Early in the first quarter, Toronto halfback Mason Pierce jumped in front of Justin Hardy to pick off Dustin Crum and take it to the house.

This is one of the best interceptions I’ve ever seen — not in terms of the difficulty of the catch, but in the mental processing, film work, and preparation that went into making this play. Simply put, from where he was lined up, Mason Pierce had no business intercepting this pass.

Ottawa lined up with Marco Dubois, Jaelon Acklin, and Justin Hardy in a tight bunch to the left and Shaq Evans further outside. Anthony Gosselin was lined up as a tight end to the right with Devonte Williams at Dustin Crum’s side.

Defensively, Toronto was running cover three, but showed cover two pre-snap with Pierce lined up outside the boundary hashmarks, twelve yards deep. Ottawa ran a run-pass option (RPO), but because Pierce didn’t even hint that he’d be taking off to the field side on the snap of the ball, Crum’s read dictated that he pull it and target the field side where he believed he had a numbers advantage.

Against a four-by-one set with only a tight end to the boundary, Pierce had a green light to attack the field side, and based on the film study he’d done and how quickly RPO passes need to come out, he must have known exactly where the ball was going. Pierce arrived at the catch point with perfect timing and took it back 35 yards for the score.

Mason Pierce has been playing at an all-star-calibre level since cracking the lineup following DaShaun Amos’ injury. Over an 18-game season, the rookie halfback’s projected numbers include 64 tackles, two sacks, six interceptions, and two touchdowns.

Ben Grant is the radio colour analyst for the Toronto Argonauts. He has been coaching high school and semi-pro football for 20 years.