A couple of things are at play as Week 6 of the CFL season draws near.
One, there's a big game coming. And, two, you get the feeling that the Argos are tantalizingly close to emerging as bona fide football powerhouse.
Has that time come?
You sure could feel it at practice on Thursday. The coach wants more and he's demanding it.
Head Coach Scott Milanovich knows Monday's tilt against the defending Grey Cup Champion B.C. Lions is a yardstick game – one by which the improved edition of the Boatmen can measure themselves. It's likely why he gathered the team up in the middle of practice and read them the riot act. Unhappy with the tempo of a team that was practicing for the first time since Friday night's win in Montreal, he told them that they'd "just lost the first half of practice."
|The search for the complete game|
"We haven't had a full game where we've been dominant on defence, on offence and on special teams. I guess that's ideal, right? I don't know if you ever get a perfect game. Once we stop thinking so much and we start playing fast, we're going to be pretty unstoppable."
- Argos DE Ricky Foley
He then went on to – how shall I say it politely – let them know that he'd had enough of that "stuff."
"Our tempo wasn't what we expect it to be," said Milanovich, shortly after practice had ended. "I gave them a little time to see if they were going to pick it back up, themselves, and it didn't happen so we've got to do a better job getting them ready for practice. It got better after that.
There was a little scuffle here and there and the intensity level picked back up."
It was a sentiment that defensive coordinator Chris Jones had sympathy for.
"We're out there basically sleepwalking," said Jones of the first portion of practice. "Great football teams don't do that. Great football teams, they come out and they work hard, every single day, every single drill. That's what the great teams do."
Jones believes it's time for the Argos to make that next step. That they're ready to really emerge, if they want to.
"No doubt we're a good football team, but at the same time, to be a great football team, we've got to come out every day like it's our last."
For quarterback Ricky Ray, it's not an alarming turn of events. Just part of the football landscape when a team is practicing for the first time in nearly a week.
"We've had a few days off, so it took a little bit for us to get going. He (Milanovich) just doesn't want us to waste practice and I think guys responded pretty well," Ray said.
Up and down the ranks, there was agreement that this next game will reveal, in large part, the measure of the 2012 Toronto Argonauts. At least to this point.
"Until somebody knocks them off this season, they're the champs," began Milanovich. "We have a ton of respect for them. It was not an accident that they won the Grey Cup last year. So, it's a great challenge for us. Looking forward to it, to seeing where we're at."
The Lions possess an impressive arsenal of talent on both sides of the ball, and Milanovich is ensuring that his team prepares as thoroughly as they can in advance of that game.
While the Argos of 2012 have, no doubt, been a vast improvement on last season's edition, there is the sense that their 3-2 record comes built by a squad that, at times,has been dominant on one side of the ball or the other, but not both sides for a full 60 minutes.
Don is a very familiar voice to Toronto radio listeners. His razor-sharp wit, easy on-air manner and superb interview skills made him a morning radio staple for more than 10 years, at the helm of the FAN 590′s breakfast show. Follow Don on Twitter @ArgosLandry
|2||Blue Bombers||DE||Mulumba, Andy|
|3||Alouettes via EDM||LB||Edem, Mike|