CFL basement dwellers face off in Winnipeg

The Toronto Argonauts and host Winnipeg Blue Bombers square off Saturday night (9 p.m. ET) at Canad Inns Stadium in a battle of the CFL’s two worst teams.

Both enter the game with identical 3-8 records. The Argos lost their last game to the B.C. Lions 23-17 on Saturday, while Winnipeg was defeated by Montreal 33-14 the following day.

The Boatmen and Bombers have split their season series thus far. Toronto won 19-5 in Winnipeg on July 24, and Winnipeg edged the Argos 13-12 in Toronto last month.

Winnipeg has been riding a three-game losing streak and has been outscored 117-38 over that stretch, including a dismal 55-10 showing against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sept. 13.

Under head coach Mike Kelly, who is also the team’s offensive coordinator, Winnipeg has scored a CFL-worst 200 points through 11 games.

The Bombers’s biggest problem has been with dealing injuries and inconsistent play from their quarterback position. Five pivots — Stefan Lefors, Bryan Randall, Richie Williams, Michael Bishop, and Casey Bramlet — have taken snaps behind centre this season.

At the start of the season, Kelly dumped veteran QB Kevin Glenn (now with Hamilton) and gave the starting job to Lefors, who had started only 13 games before 2009.

Lefors played in only four games this year and is now on the nine-game injured list with a shoulder injury.

The team picked up former Temple University pivot Adam DiMichelle on Thursday, three days after acquiring Ricky Santos in a trade with Montreal.

Winnipeg has now added three quarterbacks in the last two weeks — DiMichelle, Santos, and Bramlet.

Kelly has also had some trouble getting along with his players, first feuding with veteran receiver Derick Armstrong before he was released in July.

He now is currently in a dispute with disgruntled linebacker Barrin Simpson, who requested a trade two weeks ago after being told his playing time would be reduced.

Winnipeg will bring a strong rushing game into the contest as running back Fred Reid leads the league with 926 rushing yards.

The Argos will be looking at a retooled Winnipeg offence, which acquired receivers Jabari Arthur and Titus Ryan, along with defensive lineman Odell Willis from Calgary on Sunday.

Heading to Calgary in the deal were receivers Romby Bryant and Arjei Franklin.

Although Toronto has a 3-8 record, they are much stronger against east division opponents, boasting a 3-3 mark. Only three other teams — Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary — have a .500 or better record against divisional rivals.

The Argos’ defence has been the positive for the team this year, allowing only 288 points to rank fourth in that department.

They have not allowed more than 30 points since Sept. 7, when they lost 34-15 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The team’s offence, however, is a different story, scoring only 211 points — the second-worst output in the league.

Quarterback Cody Pickett, 1-4 as a starter, will likely start in his sixth straight game on Saturday.

In Saturday’s loss to B.C., he completed 11 of 23 passes, threw a touchdown and two interceptions, and was sacked six times.

Offensive Tackle Cliff Washington re-joined the Argos on Wednesday after spending time at the Houston Texans training camp.

About this article

By: Iain Colpitts
Posted: Sep 24 2009 7:04 pm
Filed under: Football Sports