Toronto Argonauts head coach Scott Milanovich admitted Monday that losing in Week 4 to the Ottawa REDBLACKS maybe wasn't the worst loss of his career, but it was right up there on his list. At York Stadium this week, he was adamant at that there's no panic button to be pushed. Not now, and probably not ever.
"What good does it do? It wouldn't make a difference if we were 3-1," he said. "You still have a foundation that you've built your team on and that you believe in and has proven over the years that it works. Just because you lose a few games, you don't, or I don't change what we do."
With that, another week of hard work is underway and the Argos are in a peculiar position. Though Andre Durie, Jason Barnes and Chad Owens pack a big punch, it's not the same without them. Other than the final game of 2013, when they were both sidelined before the East Final, they've never missed the same game.
Milanovich said it's boring for reporters to hear about stepping up, but his team will still do that in the absence of its most potent offensive weapons. Maybe right now more than ever.
"Once the dam breaks, it breaks a lot," he said. "Things explode."
Second-year wide receiver Darvin Adams made four receptions for 83 yards in the loss at Ottawa. It was his third career CFL start, and only his fifth game in the league.
"I told some other guys on the team, it's good for me to get four catches, but I would have rather had one catch and a win than four catches with a loss," the 24-year-old said. "I like winning and I want to do anything to help the team win."
His strong push to be better stems from a disciplined program at Auburn, where he won the SEC Championship and the National Championship in 2010. That season, the Tigers were 14-0. Adams recorded back-to-back seasons of 900-plus receiving yards - the only player in AU's history to do so.
"It's just the mentality of not wanting to lose," he said. "A bunch of us guys at Auburn had that mentality and a bunch of us guys here have that mentality. We just have to put it together as one and bring it all together to start to win.”
After becoming Auburn's single-season record holder in 2009 with 60 catches, he unsurprisingly became 2010 quarterback (and eventual Heisman Trophy winner) Cam Newton's favorite target.
After Toronto’s one, two and three went down with injuries, he'll quickly have to work to become Ricky Ray's favorite.
"Sometimes you have to do the extra work," he said of building the new relationship. "I'll ask Ricky if he wants to throw. Communication is the biggest thing [for] getting used to [your quarterback.]"
For the Argos, he’s compiled nine catches, good for 139 yards. To blemish Ottawa’s history books, his first touchdown of the season was the first ever at TD Place.
"He's a guy we've been watching for a year or so now, and he did play well after that first drop he had on the first drive,” Milanovich said of Adams. “He played physical, played hard and played fast, so I was excited to see his performance and hopefully he can build on that.”
Without a panic button on his control panel, Milanovich will have to depend on his less experienced offensive parts. Adams wants to come out with a great attitude, focusing on how to correct his mistakes.
“We have a saying at Auburn: ‘Work, hard work,'” he said. “That's what I try to bring with me everywhere I go. Work hard, and the rest sorts itself out.”
Adams opted out of his senior year to enter the 2011 NFL draft. Undrafted, he later signed with the Carolina Panthers, where his Auburn quarterback Newtwon was selected first overall. Adams’ NFL’ tenure was short, and he followed it with a stint in the now-defunct United Football League. His agent suggested a CFL tryout.
“I was willing to do anything because I love the game of football,” he said.
Adams’ history makes it clear that he’s got the drive to step up, and he’s prepared to make a still-new CFL game work in his favor.
“I like the running start, it gives me an edge and I feel like I can use the waggle to my advantage,” he said, explaining one of his focuses. “It's pretty hard, anybody running at you 10 yards to start with full speed? It's kind of scary. If I can get that down pat, I can make a big impact here.”
If history repeats itself, the best is yet to come.