Opening night exposes warts as Argos hope to clean up their act following win vs Als


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In the immediate aftermath of his first game as an Argo, Brandon Banks leaned over to one of his new teammates inside Toronto’s locker room.

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“I told them I’m always on the opposite end of this kicks,’’ began Banks, better known as Speedy B. “I’m glad it went out way.”

We take you to Thursday night’s season opener at BMO Field, the site of Toronto’s improbable win over the visiting Montreal Alouettes.

The Argos hadn’t played a game since last fall’s East final when Banks lined up for the visiting Ticats.

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With a berth in the Grey Cup on the line, the Argos left so many points out on the field, but nonetheless took a 12-0 lead into intermission.

Against the Als, the Argos left many points on the field and led 11-6 at the break.

Ultimately, the game rested on the foot of Als kicker David Cote, who missed from 21 yards on an attempt he could make in his sleep.

The Argos won the game 20-19 when they should have lost.

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Then again, they should have scored more often in the opening half when the Argos had opportunities to take firm control of the evening.

In his final season with the Tabbies, Banks was on the losing end of a game played at BMO when Hamilton failed to convert following a touchdown.

To the surprise of no one, at least to those who actually follow the Argos, Banks lined up at the wide-side receiver slot, which is not his normal position.

Regardless of where he lines up, Banks realizes there’s much more to be summoned, both from himself and from the Argos offence.

His conditioning needs to be better, his knowledge of the offence, normal factors for someone coming into a new environment.

“Obviously I have things I need to work on,’’ said Banks.

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The Argos scored one touchdown versus the Als, who also penetrated the end zone once.

Banks produced the major for the Argos when he hauled in a pass from McLeod Bethel-Thompson on a sequence featuring Banks eluding would-be tacklers.

The Argos moved the ball well in the opening half, but they couldn’t finish.

The Argos defence forced the Als to make a quarterback change in the opening half, but Toronto’s defence took a step back in the second half.

Boris Bede missed two field goals, in a row to boot.

Call it irony or coincidence, but the Argos would emerge with a win on a missed field goal, something that played out last season.

The Argos will spend the weekend reviewing the game film and correcting the many mistakes in all three phases before they prepare for a date in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions next Saturday night.

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There was nothing the Argos did against the Als that was overwhelming, despite playing stretches of very good football on both sides.

Offensively, Toronto moved the football down the field on its first possession to begin the night, but had to settle for a field goal.

The Argos took the opening possession to begin the second half and drove the field to score a touchdown on a five-play 72-yard drive featuring a 37-yard completion to Markeith Ambles.

“We have something to build on,’’ said Banks when asked to assess the Argos’ offence. “We set the foundation, but we have to finish off drives.”

Banks admitted how the stifling weather added to his legs feeling heavy.

Still, he’s happy to be in Toronto, hoping to show that he can still play at a high level and win that elusive Grey Cup following three kicks at the championship can when he lined up in the Hammer.

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Banks was targeted six times and caught three passes for 39 yards.

The Argos played without Eric Rogers, a veteran receiver who is dealing with a hamstring injury.

Juwan Brescacin was also sidelined because of a hip injury.

Clearly, the Argos have weapons at the receiver slot.

Andrew Harris emerged as a weapon running and catching the football out of the backfield in his Argos debut.

His left hamstring tightened in the second half and Harris wasn’t able to finish the night.

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His status for the B.C. game will be known in the coming days.

Harris broke into the CFL with the Lions.

When he was on the field Thursday night, Harris showed the downhill, physical style of running the Argos hope to establish.

Ambles is a physical receiver whose presence allows the Argos to block the edge and create tighter formations.

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Rogers is also physical.

When the Argos are able to establish this style of running, it takes the pressure off MBT and opens up play action.

By his count, Dinwiddie felt the Argos ran five to six different run schemes.

The focus was to generate positive gains on first down.

There were moments, but nothing was sustained.

“I thought we left some meat on the bone,’’ said Dinwiddie.

As Dinwiddie admitted post-game, it was unfortunate the game came down to the last-second field goal.

“It was a good thing we were on the right side of that when he missed,’’ he said.

The Argos were on the right side of many close calls last season, including a visit by the Lions.

Dinwiddie knows his offence needs to be better by finishing drives with touchdowns.

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Including last fall’s loss in the East final, the offence has produced one major in eight quarters.

“We know what we have,’’ said MBT of the Argos offence. “There wasn’t anything they (Als) did to stop us.”

There were four of five missed plays, added the QB, that hurt the offensive momentum the Argos were able to establish.

The Argos were a minus-1 in the turnover ratio and yet won by one point.

Outside of that opening drive to begin the second half, the Argos offence manufactured very little.

The Argos defence was on its heels at the end.

Following an illegal punt that went out of bounds by first-year Argos punter John Haggerty, the Als took over possession at their own 34 yard line with 2:44 left in the game.

Montreal ran nine plays, including a critical conversion on third and 10 from its own 34, to take the ball all the way to Toronto’s 13 yard line.

The Als sent out their kicking team with 18 seconds left on the clock.

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