Walter Tychnowicz, Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca
EDMONTON — The Toronto Argonauts look to double up on their good fortunes on Sunday, when they head west to take on an Edmonton Elks team in search of its first win of the season. Their meeting at Commonwealth Stadium will close out the Week 3 schedule.
The Argonauts looked every bit the part of defending Grey Cup champions when they beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 32-14 in their season opener on Sunday, June 18.
The Elks on the other hand are trying to rebound from a 22-0 loss to the BC Lions.
It appears as though the Argos’ offence remains in good hands as quarterback Chad Kelly threw for 238 yards and rushed for three touchdowns in their first win of the season.
Kelly’s versatility in the pocket should come in handy against an Elks’ defence that allowed 324 passing yards and 119 rush yards a week ago.
The Argos are yet to connect for a touchdown through the air, but there’s plenty of weapons in the receiving game the Elks’ secondary will need be concerned about.
But they’ll have to do it without Kurleigh Gittens Jr., who’s out with a hamstring injury.
Argos’ head coach Ryan Dinwiddie is excited about what he’s seen from his new starting quarterback early on and expects him to continue to progress each week.
“Chad’s exactly who we thought he was going to be,” Dinwiddie told Argonauts.ca.
“Chad’s a gamer, that’s why we chose to bring him in to be our franchise quarterback. We believe in Chad, we knew it from the get go and we’ll continue to grow together.”
With Kelly showing he’s fleet of foot, the ground game keeps getting better for the Double Blue, as A.J. Ouellette and Andrew Harris already form an impressive duo.
While the the pair combined for 84 yards last week, the Elks have coughed up 254 ground yards in two games, so they’ll be eyeing an even better performance.
It’ll be DaShaun Amos and Royce Metchie that will be responsible for shutting down Taylor Cornelius and a talented group of Elks receivers. The recently resigned Jamal Peters will also make his season debut.
As the Elks try to find answers on offence, providing Cornelius with time to make smart decisions will go a long way in dictating his success. General manager and head coach Chris Jones’ crew needs to be better all around offensively if they hope to upend the reigning champs. Don’t be surprised to see Jones turn to Kai Locksley under centre in an attempt to roll with a different look if things don’t click early.
Regardless of who’s leading the offence, the skill is there at receiver for a quick turnaround.
Eugene Lewis, Steven Dunbar Jr. and Kyran Moore all have the ability to make game-changing plays. The Elks will need them to do just that against an Argos’ defence that has loads of talent from the line out. The Argos’ pass defence will catch a break as veteran receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux is out with a knee injury.
Brown will once again handle the rushing duties but has yet to break the 60-yard mark in two games this season.
The Elks will look to build on their defensive performance from a week ago after giving up 431 net yards. If they can successfully limit the Argos’ offence, especially on the ground, they should be able to stay in the game and give the offence a chance. They’ll need their top linemen in Jake Ceresna, Kony Ealy and A.C. Leonard to keep all three of Kelly, Ouellette and Harris in check. Ealy had his first sack of the season against the Lions last week.
Defensive back Kai Gray brings an interception into the game. He’ll need to step up with a strong performance in the absence of Ed Gainey who has been moved to the six-game injured list with a chest issue.
Jones will be looking for his defence to spend less time on the field and give Cornelius a chance to find himself and get into a rhythm Sunday night.
“We played 72 plays I think defensively, something to that effect,” Jones told GoElks.com.
“We need to play somewhere in the 40-52 range. That’s a solid group of guys. It’s as good a character group as I’ve been around. We’ve got our quarterback, we have to do a better job of coaching him. We have to get his confidence back, certainly it’s been rattled the first two weeks. That’s the way it goes. We’re going to get Taylor going.”
The Argos are attempting to jump out to a quick 2-0 start in 2023. With their 18-game home losing streak still hanging over their heads, the Elks will try to snap it with their first win of the season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. The game can be viewed on TSN in Canada and on CFL+ for American and international viewers.
— With files from Argonauts.ca and GoElks.com