CFL Pass

Frustrating loss to Stampeders in July remains in the minds of the Argos

The Argonauts did not enjoy their trip to Alberta in July.

Instead of the memories of turquoise rivers and picturesque mountain vistas that most visitors to the province leave with, the Argos left Alberta with two tough-to-swallow defeats at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos.

It was a low point.

Or maybe it was a turning point, depending on how you look at it.

Starting quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson had a terrible stretch in those two games, throwing for four interceptions against the Stampeders and then failing to find the end zone in an embarrassing 26-0 loss to the Eskimos a week later.

In the time since, though, Bethel-Thompson has thrown for only two picks in five games while throwing for 12 touchdowns.

“(The game against the Stampeders) was the beginning of the death, to be honest. I think the full death was Edmonton the next week,” Bethel-Thompson said Thursday, a day before the Argos get a chance at revenge against the Stampeders at BMO Field.

“Definitely, Calgary, I felt I was pushing a bit hard and threw the interceptions, and then the next week in Edmonton I kind of backed-up and it was worse. But (against Calgary), that was a tough game because the defence played well and we just felt the offence squandered so many opportunities.

“After that it was, again, just people taking responsibility for their roles and doing their job for 60 minutes rather than … trying to do too much at the wrong time or letting go of the rope and kind of getting frustrated.”

The loss to the Stampeders was a frustrating one for the Argos.

They went into halftime down 11-9 and looked like they had a real chance of knocking off the defending Grey Cup champions. Even at the end of the game, the Argos’ numbers were generally a lot more impressive than what the Stampeders managed — the Boatmen had 417 total yards of offence, the Stamps only had 276.

The turnover sank the ship for the Argos, though.

Bethel-Thompson’s four picks drew the headlines, but receiver Armanti Edwards also had a tough fumble deep in Calgary territory than Stamps corner Tre Roberson –—arguably the best player in the league this season — recovered and ran back 93 yards for a touchdown.

Something had to change.

“Early in the year, (turnovers) were something that really hampered us,” Argos head coach Corey Chamblin said. “There were games we were in that we could have won, but we turn that ball over that many times and it’s going to be hard to do. Especilaly in that Calgary game, we went into half … very close and there was a battle there.

“Especially when they didn’t have their starting quarterback, that’s one of those games you want to take advantage of, but they did a better job defensively as far as taking away the ball.”

In the time since the trip to Alberta, Bethel-Thompson has done a much better job protecting the ball and is putting up big numbers. He has the second-most passing yards in the CFL, with 3,706, and is leading the league in touchdowns.

Life has been better for the Argos as a whole, too. After going winless in their first seven games, they have won two of their last five.

Admittedly, they’re not exactly setting the world on fire and they remain in last place in the CFL’s East Division, but few people around the league believe they’re actually worse than the third-place Ottawa Redblacks, who they beat emphatically last weekend.

The Argos even believe they have a shot at catching the second-place Montreal Alouettes and sneaking into the playoffs, however unlikely that might seem.

They have a favourable schedule, but are going to need to pull out a win against a surging Stampeders team Friday night before anyone even begins to seriously believe they have a shot at the playoffs.

There’s a chance, though. Small as it might be, and that’s more than anyone was giving the Argos after their terrible trip to Alberta in July.

SORRY, CORY

Former Argos linebacker Cory Greenwood didn’t practise for the Stampeders this week, so it was no surprise that Calgary left him off its roster for the game Friday.

Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson insisted that Greenwood was close, though, but with a bye-week starting right after Friday’s game he felt it was best to give the league’s leading tackler a game-off to get his body right.

“Just didn’t want to put guys in there for what I know is going to be a tough, physical game if I don’t have confidence they can finish the game,” Dickenson said.

FOSTER FACTS

Evan Foster has been included on the Stampeders’ roster, only two days after it was announced that he had signed with the team.

He likely will be used exclusively on special teams.

The 27-year-old University of Manitoba Bisons product was drafted by the Argos in 2017 and appeared in nine games over two seasons with the team and will be making his Stampeders debut against them on Friday.

Source: winnipegsun.com




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