THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO -- Stuffing CFL Outstanding Player candidate Jon Cornish twice this season is a pleasant memory for the Toronto Argonauts defence.
Whether they can stop the Calgary Stampeders' star running back a third time in the Grey Cup game Sunday will be another story.
|100th Grey Cup Centre|
The 100th Grey Cup Championship matchup is set, as the Calgary Stampeders will duel the host Toronto Argonauts. Here is everything you need to know ahead of Sunday's game.
Click here to view page
''It was so long ago that we played them,'' linebacker Marcus Ball said Wednesday. ''Cornish is stampeding through the league right now, so it's going to be a challenge to try to stop those guys. But we're up for it.''
The Argonauts beat the Stampeders in both of their meetings, extending their winning streak against Calgary to five games since 2010. But none of that will matter when the teams line up for the championship game at Rogers Centre.
Toronto won 39-36 in Calgary on July 7, holding Cornish to 39 yards on seven carries. They beat them 22-14 at home on Aug. 18, when the league's rushing leader got 43 yards on 12 attempts. That 4.2 yards per carry is well below his 5.6-yard average for the season and was a drop in the bucket of his 1,457 rushing yards for a year, a record for a Canadian.
Against most defences, Cornish's blend of speed and power is more than a handful. In playoff games against Saskatchewan and British Columbia, Cornish ran for 109 and 112 yards respectively.
''That's what makes him so good - he can catch it out of the backfield, he can make a move, he can run you over, he can go between the tackles,'' added Ball. ''That's what makes him a challenge.''
It's a challenge the Argonauts will have to meet if they hope to contain a Calgary offence that has scored 30 or more points in each of its last six games, all victories.
Toronto has a dangerous attack of its own led by quarterback Ricky Ray, and a special teams marvel in returner Chad Owens, so much of their fate as they try for a rare Grey Cup win on home turf lies in how the defence holds up against Calgary veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn and his array of weapons.
''They're so balanced and can attack you in so many different ways,'' said veteran safety Jordan Younger. ''It starts with Cornish.
''He controls the line of scrimmage with the run game. Off of that, it opens up the (receivers) Nik Lewis and Romby Bryants, the Marquay McDaniels and Maurice Price's, to get the ball. They've got four capable guys, a great running back, a veteran quarterback and they have one of the best offensive minds in the game in (offensive coordinator) Dave Dickenson.''
Toronto counters with Chris Jones, a former Stampeder coach who is widely considered the most creative defensive co-ordinator in the eight-team league.
Jones elected not to speak to reporters as the Argos met with the media at a team breakfast at a downtown hotel, but his players were happy to talk about the coach known for tricky coverages and multi-player blitzes.
''Some of the principles are different because you attack so many different ways and from so many different areas, some of which you may not be used to doing,'' Younger said of playing in a Jones defence.
''But at the core, it's just football fundamentals, understanding how to play man-to-man coverage, understanding zone coverage and knowing when you're supposed to drop.''
Price has been especially hot, picking up more than 100 yards in four straight games heading into the Grey Cup.
The Argonaut defence also minimized damage from Glenn, a quarterback they know well from his years in Hamilton. But the veteran who was tabbed as back-up to Drew Tate only to have a brilliant season in injury relief has of late been playing his best football in years.
Both Calgary and Toronto got hot when it matters most, near the end of the regular season. Both scored upset wins on the road in their division finals.
So neither puts too much emphasis on what happened early in the campaign.
''We can't go into this game thinking we beat them twice,'' said six-foot-eight defensive tackle Kevin Huntley. ''They're not the same team and we're not the same Toronto Argonauts as when we played them.
''It's all about understanding what your opponent is doing now, not what they did before. We have an old saying that if you talk about what you did before you haven't done nothing lately. So we want to make sure we go into this game preparing like we've never played them.''