The Toronto Argonauts took to the Rogers Centre field on Tuesday in preparation for the 2013 East Division final against the Hamilton Tiger Cats. In order to beat the Tiger Cats and book their trip to the Grey Cup in Regina, the Argonauts have been preparing a little differently this week.
To begin with, practices are being held inside the Rogers Centre. The move is likely to get the players accustomed to playing on their home turf, but the Argonauts were also able to use the stadium sound system to their advantage. While running the first team offense and defense units against each other, the stadium blared simulated crowd noise.
With Hamilton and Toronto so close geographically, a strong Hamilton fanbase is expected to pack the seats on Sunday. “It’s just good for communication,” said head coach Scott Milanovich after practice. “There’s more communication that goes on defensively than you’d think, too.”
The Argonauts also have a unique challenge waiting for them this week. In their win over the Montreal Alouettes in the East Division semifinal, the Hamilton Tiger Cats deployed a two-quarterback system where Henry Burris and Dan LeFevour continually rotated throughout the game to give the offense a different look.
Milanovich acknowledged that the Argonauts will have to prepare their defense for both quarterbacks. “You have to essentially prepare for two different styles of offense,” Milanovich commented via conference call. “That makes it difficult, takes time out of practice, and when you’re preparing for a bunch of different things, there are things you can’t cover.”
It remains to be seen how often, if at all, the Tiger Cats will switch quarterbacks, but at the very least, they have the Argonauts thinking about it.
The last major piece of the Argonauts' preparation is in the backfield, where an injury to starting running back Chad Kackert has forced Jerious Norwood and Curtis Steele into the first-team offense.
Norwood, a former third-round NFL draft choice for the Atlanta Falcons, joined the Argonauts in August and has rushed for 342 yards and one touchdown in 58 attempts. Steele is in his first season with the Argonauts and has accumulated 187 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Look for both players to fill the void left by Kackert.
Note: all quotes were acquired first hand unless otherwise noted.