Sunday, November 26, 2017
GREY CUP GAME DAY
The Argos feel they are a different team to the one that lost twice to Calgary in August, when quarterback Ricky Ray and the offence laboured to move the ball against the CFL's best defence.
For one, they have added a ground attack since James Wilder Jr. replaced veteran tailback Brandon Whitaker in September, making them less dependent on the pass.
"It's changed the dynamic of our team,'' receiver S. J. Green said. "Prior to our running game picking up we were struggling to throw the ball, sometimes 50 times a game.
"When our running game came in our offence picked up and it allowed us to be more balanced.''
Now they hope to find the same magic that helped them upset Calgary 35-22 in the 2012 Grey Cup game in Toronto, when running back Chad Kackert was named the game's most valuable player as he picked up 133 yards on 20 carries and added 62 more on eight pass receptions.
Ray was the Argonauts quarterback in that game too.
"There are some similarities with 2012 when Kackert came onto the scene and we were able to get a lot of great things out of the run game, a lot of explosive plays,'' Ray said Saturday. "It's kind of been the same for us.
"We've kind of evolved into having that running attack that's been pretty explosive. So I see some similarities in that transformation of our offence.''
They hope that opens room for Ray to keep throwing the ball as well to Green, Armanti Edwards, DeVier Posey and the rest.
This is a team that is ready to prove that it's among the elite of the CFL and more than capable of living up to expectations. The Stampeders have every intention of exorcising their demons when they take on the Toronto Argonauts for the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa at TD Place Sunday.
Last year the Stampeders were heavily favoured to win the Grey Cup and lost 39-33 in overtime to the Ottawa Redblacks. Calgary has had to relive that game with nearly every interview this week and they've had enough.
"It's been such a long week,'' said Calgary defensive back Joshua Bell. "I'm tired of talking to microphones, I'm tired of doing this. I'm ready to see Toronto. We haven't even gotten to see (Argonauts defensive lineman Shawn) Lemon, I'm ready to talk crazy to Lemon. It's time.''
Bell knows that the media has to bring up the past, but says this group decided a long time ago to put it behind them and focus on the future.
They played each and every game this season as if it were the biggest game of the year so that there would be no surprises when they actually did get back to the Grey Cup.
"We won the Grey Cup every single week, 18, 19 weeks, we've won it and we've lost it a couple times,'' said Bell. "This week it's the same preparation to win a game. It's still 60 minutes of football, maybe some change if we don't play right, but it's still 60 minutes of football, it's still executing one play at a time, still executing the play call, it's still having fun, it's still doing our job. Everything is the same. We just actually get what we want at the end of it.''
Once again the Stampeders are favoured to win, but unlike last year they're not getting caught up in all the noise.
Getting back to the Grey Cup was the goal and now that they have made it they'll let everyone else revel in all the fanfare surrounding the event as they know they'll have plenty of time to celebrate after if all goes as planned.
"To me it seems like the guys are locked in,'' said Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell. "They understand. They've bought in and honestly I think guys feel good about what we have to do.
"I think the entire team, as a whole, has a quiet confidence and we're excited about this game. We're confident in our game plan, we're confident in one another and we're confident we're going to come out here and get the job done as long as we come out here and do what we're supposed to do.''