Stamps D well aware there’s more to Argos than just MOP Owens
Campbell preparing game plan to stop Toronto’s multi-pronged attack
He’s a bona fide attention grabber, all right. The eye is just naturally drawn to him. He has that innate, uncanny ability to mesmerize, to monopolize attention.
Star power, it’s called.
But be warned: Be sucked in at your peril. Chad Owens ain’t alone out there.
“As a defence, you’ll get burned by that team awful quick,” says Calgary Stampeders’ safety Eric Fraser, “if you get fixated on the one guy.
“If you find yourself staring at No. 2.”
Gawking, then, is strictly prohibited. Leave that to the ticket-buying/autograph-hunting patrons in the seats. The Owens Intangible is naturally always at play when the Argos’ offence is at work. But it’s blessed with any number of other damaging options should a defence unwittingly become preoccupied. There’s more flyin’ to be had than just the Hawaiian.
“That’s a very deep receiving corps,” cautions Stamps defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell. “What’s really helped them is that they’ve played a lot together this year, and with a new system, new coach, new quarterback, that’s crucial. Really, since we played them in Week 7 their whole offence is the same, which is usually a good sign for a team looking to grow.
“Inman’s a guy who makes plays if the ball’s thrown up. He’s great at going and getting it. And Maurice Mann, who I know from Edmonton, is playing as well as I’ve ever seen.”
The Argonauts had five receivers with over 30 catches this season: Owens (94), Andre Durie (70), rookie Dantrelle Inman (50), wideout Spencer Watt (34) and ex-Eskimo Jason Barnes (31). With the introduction of quicksilver tailback Chad Kackert into the backfield, and as Ricky Ray’s familiarity with his new surroundings increased, Toronto’s danger in attack grew by leaps and bounds.
“It’s certainly a big-play offence,” acknowledges Campbell. “Kackert’s a tailback that’s very fast. If you leave a gap open, he can exploit it in a hurry and reel off the yards. A good example is last week. For the most part Montreal did a good job against the run. But those two or three plays, where you let down your guard, is where he makes you pay, big time.
“So there’s a lot to consider. Right now, Chad’s getting the recognition. And it’s deserved. But it’s overshadowing some of the other guys. We’re aware, though. Believe me.”
A week ago at BC Place, the Calgary defence did an exceptional job of limiting another multi-pronged offence to reach this Grey Cup tilt. The vaunted Lions and Travis Lulay could only muster two plays of over 19 yards and much of that limiting had to do with the visitors’ ability to tackle well. Whenever Geroy Simon or Arland Bruce or Andrew Harris latched onto the ball and turned, there was a whole posse of marauder there to greet him. And on the rare occasion a Stamp defender was isolated 1-on-1, the takedown was made.
“That’s a key,” emphasizes Stampeder DB Quincy Butler. “With Owens, with all their receivers. Wrap ’em up. If you’re the first man there, don’t get beaten because a five- or a 10-yard play can turn into a 20- or 25-yarder real quick. We did a good job of it last week and we’ll have to again on Sunday.”
Owens, as everyone’s aware, is a quicker six than Calgary’s touchdown horse. No one in the 100 years of the CFL game, or at least since detailed stats began to be compiled, has accumulated more yardage in different ways.
“You just can’t give him too much space to work in, as a receiver or a kick returner,” says Campbell. “You have to close ground on him. If he gets too much space ...
“The CFL is built for a guy like him. A lot of room, big field. It plays into his strengths. And you’ve got to team tackle. You can’t expect to have one guy out on an island to always make the play for you.”
Kackert. Durie. Mann. Inman. Barnes. And pulling the strings, master marionette artist Ricky Ray.
It is, as Rick Campbell emphasized, a lot to think about. Be sucked in at your peril. Owens ain’t alone out there.
“They’ve got a number of very capable guys over there,” says Fraser. “Obviously, Maurice Mann. Inman has had a big year. Durie’s obviously a kind of utility guy that can play in the slot or at running back.
“There’s a number of packages they can use, with screens, having Durie and Kackert on the field and running some tailback motion stuff. I think part of the fact that he’s had such success this year is that you can’t just narrow in on Chad Owens.”
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