Argos QB Ricky Ray too hot for Stampeders | Football | CBC Sports

CFLArgos QB Ricky Ray too hot for Stampeders

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 | 03:16 PM

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Argos quarterback Ricky Ray has tossed 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last four games. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press) Argos quarterback Ricky Ray has tossed 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions in his last four games. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

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This year, the Grey Cup game is a choice between the hottest quarterback in the CFL versus the hottest team. I'm going with the quarterback.

The Toronto Argonauts (9-9, 2-0 in the playoffs) will defeat the Calgary Stampeders (11-7, 2-0) in the 100th Grey Cup game on Sunday evening at Rogers Centre.
For years, your correspondent has been making Grey Cup picks by going against recent trends and trying to be the smartest person in the room.

Never works. Especially that last part.

This year, it's a choice between the hottest quarterback in the CFL versus the hottest team. I'm going with the quarterback.

The Toronto Argonauts (9-9, 2-0 in the playoffs) will defeat the Calgary Stampeders (11-7, 2-0) in the 100th Grey Cup game on Sunday evening at Rogers Centre.

Ricky Ray, Ricky Ray, Ricky Ray. Fans of opposing teams are probably sick of hearing that name as the Argos have come sailing towards the island of Colchis, looking for the Golden Fleece.

There's just no avoiding a quarterback who in the last four contests has completed 95 of 130 passes (73 per cent) for 1,336 yards, 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Extrapolated over an 18-game schedule, that would be just over 6,000 yards -- Doug Flutie territory.

It's not just the numbers, however, it's the way his teammates have raised their games to match -- routes are sharper, blocks are stronger, the o-line will kill for this man.

There's another man they'll go to the wall for as well, and that's running back Chad Kackert.

Rather than steal a stat of the week from Sun Media's Ian Busby (our normal approach), we've come up with one of our own. If you multiply Kackert's yards per carry (6.4) by Jon Cornish's carries (259), you get 1,496 yards -- just a hair more than the Calgary star.

And the Toronto runner, who took over from Cory Boyd at mid-season, has 100 carries in the bag, so it's a fair enough comparison. Call it even.

Add in Chad Owens, the CFL's best player, top receiver and new pro football record holder for most combined yards in a season, and you have a potent offensive attack that's going to be tough for Calgary to stop.

Toronto has won five straight games against the Stampeders -- a meaningless stat you've heard all week. Three of those wins were before GM Jim Barker blew the Toronto roster up and rebuilt it this season.

For 2012, the Double Blue won a sloppy, penalty and turnover-filled 39-36 affair in Week 2 that left neither coach happy. In Week 8, a much-tighter 22-14 result went to Toronto.

Though the new Argo offence was still being inserted in the first half of the year, Ray was still able to complete 51 of 73 passes (70 per cent) for 713 yards and three scores against the White Stallions.

They were also able to run -- Boyd for 101 yards in the first, Kackert for 94 in the second.

Kevin Glenn was not bad at QB for Calgary, going 37 of 54 (68 per cent) for 464 yards and three scores.

Leading us to Cornish. He was held to 39 yards (with a fumble) and 43 yards in the two games. Strange, considering how vulnerable to the ground game Toronto was in the first half of the schedule.

It didn't help that the Argo defence was targeting Cornish with late hits, actions that left Brandon Isaac and Marcus Ball fined after the second game between the two.

Before you take the worst prognosticator in football's word for it, however, there are a few things to consider:

  • Glenn is a man on a mission. Back in 2007, he had the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on a roll when he shattered a forearm in the East final, missing a chance to play in the Grey Cup game. Now, thanks to an injury to Drew Tate (a badly concussed right wrist), the opportunity has arrived.
  • Rush ends Charleston Hughes, against Tony Washington, and Anwar Stewart, against Chris Van Zeyl, could make this a long day for Ray if they win the one-one-one battles along the lines.
  • Nik Lewis. A big-time, big-game receiver (100 catches, 1,241 yards and one horrid Twitter mistake) can go off at any time, and against Toronto he's caught 13 balls this year for 163 yards and two scores.
  • Stopping Owens. Calgary has been good at this, by comparison to other teams, holding him to 87 yards catching and 108 on returns in the second game, and 88 catching with 116 in returns in the first. That sounds like a lot, but trust us, it's pretty good.
  • John Hufnagel. The Calgary coach is so much more experienced in these things than rookie Scott Milanovich, who made a couple of incautious calls last week against Montreal.

Having built myself an exit door in case everything goes wrong (it usually does, so please don't bet the house on my account), it's still not enough to dissuade.

Because of this: Ricky Ray, the best gift Edmonton could possibly bestow on Toronto until they get that oil pipeline reversed, is now 10-4 in the post-season.

He will not permit anything but a Grey Cup victory.

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