STAMPEDERS NOTES: Defensive line feasts on Argos
TORONTO – Playing in his hometown and with his parents in the BMO Field stands, Derek Wiggan was a menace.
Wiggan’s been playing on the Calgary Stampeders defensive line for five years now, but prior to Friday’s 23-16 win over the Toronto Argonauts, he’d never had two sacks in a game.
But Wiggan was a force on the d-line Friday, picking up two sacks and three defensive tackles. They were Wiggan’s fourth sacks in the Stamps’ last four games, and he’s now set a career high for sacks in a season – he’s got four, total.
Wiggan admitted it was cool to do it in front of his parents, but both he and teammate Mike Rose suggested there wasn’t any extra motivation to have a big game in Toronto.
“Naw, Wiggs always comes out to ball, man,” Rose said. “Just happened to be against this team.”
Rose also added two sacks, meaning the Stampeders defensive tackles combined to take down Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and James Franklin four times.
That’s a lot of pressure coming from the interior of the d-line.
They weren’t alone in taking down Argos QBs, though, as Da’Sean Downey and Chris Casher also added sacks.
It all added up to a brutal day for Argos quartebacks.
“(Myself and Rose) felt both of have been getting back there the whole season and getting hits, but not converting,” WIggan said. “We’re just coming together and converting our chances. Getting good pressure, executing and we’re converting when we need to convert.”
Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson was clearly impressed with his defensive line, which has quietly been having a torrid stretch over the past month.
“D-line was the best of the game as far as any of the groups,” Dickenson said. “It’s always easy on (the defensive tackles) when you can get the lead because you can kind of pin your ears back and go after the quarterback.”
Early in the first quarter on Friday, Stampeders defensive back Jonathan Moxey went down with a leg injury of some sort.
As he was helped off the field, though, he appeared to collapse and was lowered back to the ground and there appeared to be real concern from both his teammates on the Stampeders and the Argos players, as well.
It was a scary moment, even if it only lasted a second.
“I don’t think it was anything head-related,” Dickenson said. “It look like it, but I’m not exactly sure what happened. It was scary because you could see he kind of lost his balance and his eyes weren’t focusing, but talking to him on the sideline he seemed back. I’m not sure the injury.”
Shortly afterwards, Brandon Smith and Ante Milanovic-Litre helped carry Moxey off the field and to the trainer’s table.
He did not return to the game.
Starting running back Ka’Deem Carey left Friday’s game in the second quarter and did not return.
It’s unclear what exactly happened to him, though.
“We’re not positive,” Dickenson said. “I know his back seized up but I know he got hit on the arm, too.”
He spent the rest of the half on the sidelines and was fairly animated and active, but did not have his helmet with him.
He did not return to the sideline in the second half.
If Carey has to miss any time, it likely means that Don Jackson will resume his duties as the Stampeders’ starting running back.
When he went down on Friday, though, the Stamps largely relied on Milanovic-Litre in the second half, with Terry Williams continuing with his kick return duties. Milanovic-Litre had five carries for 16 yards.
“Let’s give Ante credit for stepping up, as well as Terry,” Dickenson said. “Kind of went with Ante because Terry gets gassed with all his return game (duties), and I’ve got faith in Ante and he did a great job. Good on screens, rolls, runs hard.”
Look, attendance has been an issue at BMO Field ever since the Argos moved in, and it was extremely concerning how many empty seats there were Friday. The Argos’ 2-9 record heading in certainly doesn’t help, but you can’t help but worry about the future of the franchise when 9,819 fans are showing up to games … The Stampeders shuffled their offensive line prior to Friday’s game, moving Ucambre Williams to left tackle and Derek Dennis to the right. Justin Lawrence was at centre, but you wouldn’t have known the o-line had just undergone a facelift. They were largely effective throughout and gave Bo Levi Mitchell lots of time to operate … James Franklin took over as the Argos QB from McLeod Bethel-Thompson in the third quarter. Franklin hit Armanti Edwards with an inch-perfect 45-yard pass. He wasn’t great, otherwise, though. He also needs to get new shoes, because he was slipping and sliding all over the field … The Stamps defence was not happy about giving up a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It ultimately didn’t matter, but the Stampeders really, really wanted to keep the Argos out of the end zone.