Preview: Stamps play host to Argos to Kick Off Saturday Doubleheader

CALGARY — For the first time in over 600 days, football returns to Stampede City as the Calgary Stampeders are set to host the Toronto Argonauts.

 

Return seems to be the major theme approaching Saturday’s contest. The return of football to McMahon Stadium. And the return of teammates now turned opponents.

 

Home field advantage is often talked about in sports, but Calgary is the living embodiment of that. Since 2012 the Stamps have a home record of 60-12, cementing them as the most dangerous hosts in the league.

 

But the Argos are no strangers to success in Calgary.

 

Toronto’s Ryan Dinwiddie gets set to make his CFL head coaching debut at the place he once called home, his 2021 Argos may just be the perfect David to the Goliath that is McMahon Stadium.

 

What Toronto brings goes beyond the practice field and the film room. Dinwiddie and the Argos bring a sense of understanding, familiarity and readiness to Calgary.

 

“We know it’s going to be a challenge; Calgary is a tough place to play,” Dinwiddie said. “I just have to get the team ready to win, I don’t care what the score is we just have to score one more than them.”

 

The updated Boatmen roster features seven former Stampeders. From quarterback Nick Arbuckle to receiver Eric Rogers to veteran linebacker Cordarro Law, who donned the Red and White for five seasons, the Argos are comfortable playing in McMahon.

 

When asked about returning to Calgary, former Stampeder Eric Rogers had no time for reflection.

 

“It’s a business trip. I expect to go there and handle it like I do every game,” said Rogers. “Try to go out there and win, that’s the main goal.”

 

While familiarity is advantageous, the Double Blue are going to need more than a sense of comfort in order to secure a win in Week 1.

 

The Stampeders have been able to build an electric pass attack, commanded by a two-time Most Outstanding Player in Bo Levi Mitchell. Calgary found themselves among the league’s leaders in passing yards in 2019, averaging 312 yards per game.

 

A major factor as to why the Stampeders were so efficient through the air a season ago was the success of pass-catchers Reggie Begelton and Eric Rogers, neither of whom will be returning to Calgary this season. The pair accounted for 2,524 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.

 

Calgary will be relying on young talent to help fill the void where veterans were lost. Mitchell believes it’s crucial for young players to be mindful of penalties.

 

“When you have a lot of young guys you’ve got to make sure they’re locked into the rules and locked into penalties,” said Mitchell.  “Special teams, turnovers and the penalty battle are what decide a lot of football games.”

 

One of these young players expected to take on a larger role is Hergy Mayala. The young National enters his sophomore season looking to build on an impressive rookie campaign after totalling 562 yards and five touchdowns.

 

It is no secret that the Argos will have to address Calgary’s passing attack, and the best way to do this? According to Dinwiddie, don’t let Mitchell get comfortable.

 

“He’s a winner. The guy has won over 80 per cent of his games,” said Dinwiddie when asked about the Calgary pivot. “Bo’s a winner and we need to find ways to make him uncomfortable.”

 

This will be no small task for Toronto as Mitchell was one of the hardest quarterbacks to bring down in 2019. The Red and White were one of the least sacked teams in the CFL, allowing just 34 sacks.

 

When looking at the roster moves the Boatmen have made over the course of the off-season, however, it’s evident they have the disruptive pieces necessary to put pressure on the Calgary backfield.

 

The rebuilt defensive line unit for the Argos doesn’t seem to be a concern for Dinwiddie.

 

“That’s the least of my worries, is the defensive line right now,” said Dinwiddie. “I’m comfortable with all those guys playing.”

 

The veteran leadership of Shane Ray and Law could be one factor easing Dinwiddie’s concern. Another could be the off-season addition of one of the league’s most revered pass-rushers in Charleston Hughes.

 

Hughes was the CFL leader in sacks in 2019 and has been one of the best at getting into the backfield since entering the league. Since 2015 the six-time All-Star has complied five consecutive seasons with 10 sacks or more. He remains the only player to accomplish this feat since Will Johnson in the early 90s.

 

As the Stampeders get set to defend McMahon Stadium from the Argonauts on Saturday night, there are great storylines to watch all over the field.

 

Nothing is guaranteed in this game, but one thing is certain. CFL fans everywhere are thrilled the season is finally here.

 

Kickoff is slated for Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET and can be watched on TSN and ESPN+ or followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.