Argos lose their cool en route to loss

Maybe it just looks bad in comparison to their Canada Day steamrolling of the Tiger-Cats, but Saturday’s 46-36 loss to Saskatchewan was a huge eye-opener for everyone sporting the Double Blue. The score wasn’t a true reflection of the outcome, as the Roughriders outscored the Argonauts 30-0 in the second quarter. New head coach Bart Andrus has been preaching discipline since training camp, and feels even more strongly about it after his Argos were reckless on the field.

Toronto took 14 penalties totaling 131 yards. Defensive tackle Adriano Belli was benched in the first quarter after taking a needless unnecessary roughness penalty for headbutting a Roughrider after the play. Andrus made it very clear that there’s a place for that behaviour, and it isn’t the gridiron.

“Do you want to be a WWE wrestler or a professional football player? It’s as simple as that,” he said. When Belli was informed of his coach’s statement, he replied with a brisk “No comment.” He half-heartedly pointed to his foot in the locker room as the reason for his removal from the game, leaving it open to interpretation.

“It’s a fine line. We’re trying to kill the quarterback […] but play within the rules of the game,” he added. “I think everyone was a little hot.”

Quarterback Kerry Joseph wasn’t pointing any fingers, putting the onus on the entire group to be sharper.

“Overall as a team we’ve just got to be better, more disciplined. Everyone was at fault today,” said the former Saskatchewan pivot. “We can’t give yards away. Bottom line. This is a game of inches and you have to make them earn every bit of it.”

Andrus did see some positives. He pointed to Joseph passing for over 300 yards, Reggie McNeal’s 114 yard receiving performance, as well as running back Jamal Robertson eclipsing 100 total yards from scrimmage. Still, he acknowledged there’s work to be done before this team gets to where it wants to be.

“Some of [the problems] are real easy to identify right now, and some we’ll study tomorrow. That’s the only thing I know to do,” said the coach. “90% of the time, if you have a negative turnover ratio, you lose.”

Though the Riders had it in cruise control after halftime, the Argos were still able to win the second half 23-9. (The roof was open for the second half. Read into that what you will.) Andrus saw positives that can be applied to future games.

“They came out. They played,” he said of his players. “We held them to field goals and we scored touchdowns.”

The Argos visit 0-2 Calgary on Friday.

-Marc Tessier

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