July 10, 2024

Argos, Als meet on Thursday night in East Division battle


MONTREAL — For the second time in three weeks, the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts square off in an East Division showdown.

It was Montreal who walked away with a 30-20 victory back in Week 4 and they followed it up with a win over Calgary last week to run their record to a perfect 5-0.

Toronto is attempting to snap a two-game skid after falling to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, 30-23, in Week 5. 

Als quarterback Cody Fajardo threw for 284 yards and a touchdown in the teams’ first meeting and is coming off a 374-yard performance against the Stamps. While he’s been able to move his team downfield with his arm, he has thrown three interceptions in the past two games, including one into the hands of Argos defensive back Jonathan Edouard.

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Edouard, along with Benjie Franklin and Royce Metchie have their hands full with an Al receiving corps that can make plays all over the field.

Tyson Philpot has turned into a star in his third season and already has the most receiving yards of his career with 564. Kaion Julien-Grant and Cole Spieker are Fajardo’s other top targets heading into Thursday night.

Despite holding the Riders to 192 passing yards a week ago, the Argos’ secondary is still allowing 307.5 per game. It’s an area Jason Maas’ offence is going to try and exploit.

Running back Walter Fletcher has also been a dual threat, putting up 230 yards on the ground and catching 24 of 26 passes for 232 yards.

The run defence remains strong for the Argos, having given up 211 yards through four games.

Linebacker Wynton McManis is in the midst of another strong season with 25 defensive tackles, while Jared Brinkman and Jordan Williams solidify a defensive line that’s without Jake Ceresna due to a shoulder injury.

But with Fletcher’s ability to jump into the pass game, it provides a different look for the Argos front.

Going up against a team that leads the league with 157 points scored, the Argos need the most out of all facets of their offence.

Quarterback Cameron Dukes is coming off a four interception game against Saskatchewan where he was replaced by backup Nick Arbuckle.

Dukes gets a chance at redemption and he’ll be on the lookout for Rasheed Bailey who leads the team with 176 yards. Without a receiver in the top 15, he needs to find a way to spread the field to Damonte Coxie and Richie Sindani.

Taking care of the football is a main focus for head coach Ryan Dinwiddie.

“We can’t have turnovers,” Dinwiddie told reporters. “I don’t mind if we punt and we don’t see the field properly but we can’t turn the ball over. That’s cost us the last two ball games.”

Attempting to find success downfield is another issue, as defensive back Dionte Ruffin is playing with confidence after his second interception against the Stamps. Ruffin is just one piece in a talented secondary that also features Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Najee Murray and Titus Wall. Though Dequoy has been listed as doubtful in the team’s injury report this week.

The key to offensive success could be on the ground for the Double Blue, as Ka’Deem Carey is third among all rushers with 269 yards.

Carey’s biggest concern should be linebacker Tyrice Beverette, who tops all defenders with 34 defensive tackles, while fellow linebacker Geoffrey Cantin-Arku and lineman Mustafa Johnson both have a pair of sacks.

With the preparation complete, Dinwiddie’s side is excited for another crack at the East’s top team.

“You want to play the best team in the league, that’s why we sign up for professional football,” he told reporters. “This is for the season series. For it to be this early and you’re playing for the season series, this game is darn important.”

Montreal can move eight points ahead of Toronto and Ottawa in the East Division with a win.

If Toronto hopes to chase them down in the coming weeks, a victory to open Week 6 would go a long way.

Kickoff from Percival Molson Memorial Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. Canadian fans can tune in on TSN/RDS. U.S. and International audiences can watch on CFL+.

– with files from Argonauts.ca

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