Elusive Rourke awaits an Argos defence lacking in tackling


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One, two and out would be recorded on defence in last week’s season opener on a night the Argos would win by one point.

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The two outplayed out on the opening drive when visiting Montreal was forced to punt the ball away on the game’s opening possession.

Whether it was a lack of familiarity, players learning a new system, or a new defensive coordinator thrust in his first game, with fatigue becoming a factor as the night wore on, the point is Toronto’s defence could not finish.

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The offence lacked finish as well and yet the Argos escaped with a 20-19 win when Montreal missed a short field goal late in the game.

The Argos won’t be as lucky this week in Vancouver when the host B.C. Lions provide the opposition if the visitors repeat their lack of finish on both sides of the ball.

In the second half last week, Toronto’s defence couldn’t get off the field.

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Montreal responded to the Argos’ opening drive of the third quarter to engineer a 12-play drive that resulted in a field goal.

Then came another drive that netted three points followed by a possession that resulted in a touchdown.

On the Als’ final possession, they converted from their side of midfield on third and long to move the chains to set up the late-game dramatics that would see David Cote miss from 21 yards.

The Argos went light Wednesday, hoping to give some of the team’s walking wounded extra time to heal.

“We wanted to make sure guys get their legs underneath them,’’ said head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. “We’ll have a good solid day (Thursday) before we take off.”

A handful of players were present at practice, but did not participate, including tailback Andrew Harris.

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“He’s a full go,’’ said Dinwiddie of Harris, who left the season opener when he experienced tightness in his left hamstring in the second half.

Robertson Daniel started at corner for the Argos against the Als, but he suffered a torn hamstring and will be sidelined anywhere from six to eight weeks.

Other than Daniel, Dinwiddie believes no injury is believed to be long-term.

Soft tissue injuries, according to Dinwiddie, are hampering some of the players.

The Argos will charter to Vancouver in the hours following Thursday’s practice.

A week ago, the Argos forced a quarterback change when the Als went with Trevor Harris in the opening half for an ineffective Vernon Adams Jr.

B.C. will put the ball in the hands of Nathan Rourke, who will be making his fourth-career start hoping to become the second Canadian quarterback to begin his career with a 3-1 record.

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Rourke attended Holy Trinity in Oakville, the same school that produced Argos fullback/tight end Declan Cross.

At Ohio University, one of Rourke’s teammates was Argos running back AJ Ouellette.

The Argos haven’t faced a starting Canadian QB since Oct. 27, 1996, when, coincidentally, they played the Leos.

B.C.’s QB was the legendary Giulio Caravatta, the team’s current radio analyst who played his high school football at Scarlett Heights in Etobicoke on a team featuring Doug and the late Rob Ford coached by none other than good guy Gino Reda.

There was some interest by the Argos when Rourke was eligible for the 2020 CFL draft after he went undrafted by the NFL.

When B.C.’s turn came in the second round (15th overall), the Argos had already picked Dejon Brissett (second overall), Theren Churchill (ninth overall) and Jack Cassar (11th overall).

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All three were not on Toronto’s active roster last week.

Tackling, according to Dinwiddie, was an issue last week by Toronto’s defence.

“Arm tackling, leaving our feet, it wasn’t clean,’’ he said. “We had too many missed tackles. There were probably three or four plays where we had multiple missed tackles.”

Those moments of poor tackling, emphasized Dinwiddie, came in the second half.

“A lot had to do with fatigue,’’ he said. “First game and the team just struggled.”

Dinwiddie played the quarterback position.

“He makes plays with his feet,’’ said Dinwiddie when discussing Rourke. “He can throw it as well. He’s multi-dimensional. He’s a threat and we have to be ready for those quarterback runs and designed quarterback runs.

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“When things break down, he can create off-script. And he can throw from the pocket. We have to make sure we confuse him early and make sure he’s second-guessing his decision making.”

Defensively, Dinwiddie couldn’t glean much from B.C.’s blowout win over the Elks.

It got ugly early and the Lions didn’t do anything in the way of presenting exotic looks on defence.

“Once they got that big lead they probably had a bunch of calls they didn’t get to,’’ said Dinwiddie. “They weren’t going to show them. They were pretty standard on defence. We expect to see a lot more difficult fronts, pressure and some mixture in the back end.”

EXTRA POINTS

As expected, Dejon Allen was fined by the CFL for his part in last week’s altercation with Als LB Tre Watson, who was also fined an undisclosed amount by the league. Montreal’s Mike Moore was fined for a high hit on Argos QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Allen was replaced by Shane Richards following the ejection, but he’ll be back at right tackle this week. He started at left tackle last season, Allen’s first in the CFL … In his first CFL game, Tarvarus McFadden recorded an interception when he picked off Harris late in the first half that led to a field goal. McFadden kept the football as a souvenir. “It’s a nice memorabilia,’’ said the cornerback.

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