Jonathan Kozub/CFL.ca, Argonauts.ca
TORONTO — The first order of business for the Toronto Argonauts on Sunday night at BMO Field will be celebrating their 18th Grey Cup in franchise history with their fans.
But when the festivities are over, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be waiting to try and spoil the party.
Toronto is coming off a Week 1 bye, while Hamilton will attempt to build on momentum from a 27-point second half performance in their season opening loss to Winnipeg.
Receiver Damonte Coxie also emerged as a reliable target as the 2022 season wore on, giving Kelly plenty of support around him.
It’ll be a lot to handle for a Tiger-Cats’ defence that coughed up 354 yards through the air in their loss to the Bombers.
When running back Andrew Harris came over from Winnipeg prior to 2022, he became their main rusher. While he will still see his fair share of touches, the play of AJ Ouellette has given the Argos a two-headed ground attack.
Both will look get going right off the hop against a Ticats defence that surrendered 145 rush yards in Week 1.
As Bo Levi Mitchell tries to build on a strong second half against the Bombers, defensive backs Tavarus McFadden and Royce Metchie will attempt to keep the Tabbies’ receivers in check.
More talent awaits the Ticats’ offence on the line as newly acquired defensive lineman Thomas Costigan joins Shawn Oakman and Folarin Orimolade to form a stiff front aiming to cause problems for Mitchell and running back James Butler.
Week 1 wasn’t what Mitchell was hoping for in a debut with his new team as he threw for 200 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, but there’s no better time to turn things around than against a rival.
Butler, who will be a key to the offence all season, rushed for 66 yards a week ago.
Receivers Tim White and D’haquille Williams are trying to build on strong first games and if Kiondré Smith can repeat his Week 1 performance that saw him pull down four catches for 39 yards, it will give the Argos’ secondary plenty to worry about when the offence trots on the field.
Williams believes his team began to click in the second half against Winnipeg and says the Ticats will learn from their performance.
“We just had to slow the game down,” Williams told Ticats.ca.
“We know what type of team we have, we just have to put it together. We’re here to refocus on Toronto. It’s football, never get too comfortable. It’s our job to hold each other accountable and we’re here to compete.”
It’s hard to imagine the Black and Gold’s defensive performance going anywhere but up after they surrendered 42 points and 471 net yards. The talent is certainly there for a quick turnaround.
Ja’Gared Davis will certainly take a moment to reflect on his Grey Cup win with his former teammates but will need to turn the switch quickly once kickoff arrives.
Linebacker Jameer Thurman is coming off a huge game that saw him record 10 tackles and will be hovering behind the talented line in front of him.
With nine days between games, head coach Orlondo Steinauer feels his team will be rested and ready to go.
“I think rest is always a benefit to the football team, to the coaches, we’ve been on the go since the end of training camp.” Steinauer told Ticats.ca.
“The coaches set the expectations, the players will always set the standard. The expectation is we need to be getting better every single day and it needs to result in wins. That’s why you play the game.”
There’s no easing into the season for the Argos as they’ll meet their QEW rivals in Game 1.
For the Ticats, what better time to pick up win No. 1 than in Toronto after their Grey Cup celebration?
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. Fans can watch on TSN in Canada, while American viewers can catch the game on CBS Sports Network. International viewers can tune in on CFL+.