Sun, July 22, 2007
Argonauts veteran QB left too long on the sidelines in Stampeders' victory
By ERIC FRANCIS
Pinball Clemons obviously has a soft spot for the Calgary Stampeders.
Might even feel a bit sorry for them after the damage his Argos inflicted on the Stamps a week earlier.
Either that or the Argos coach is hell bent on driving Damon Allen out of football.
There's no other explanation for why Clemons eliminated his team's chances of winning last night by continually sending quarterback Mike McMahon out to embarrass himself in a 33-10 Stamps' win. One week after throwing two interceptions in just over a quarter of play, the former NFL backup made his first CFL start a memorable one.
In what was likely the sorriest quarterbacking seen at McMahon Stadium since Troy Kopp started the 2000 Labour Day game, the Argos pivot took 23 minutes to get his team its opening first down and 24 minutes to complete his first pass. All told, he was 6-of-18 for a stunningly inept 58 yards in the air.
Yet, no matter how lost he was, Clemons kept throwing him back to the wolves while Allen watched from the sideline. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that McMahon's day -- and possibly his career -- came to a merciful end.
By that time, the score was 16-3, and Allen's Argos had little chance of coming back vs. a Stamps defence that managed to gain much-needed confidence after being slaughtered the previous two outings.
None of this takes away from the Stamps who deserve credit for manning up and getting their record back to 2-2.
However, given how bad the visiting pivot was, the Stamps should have blown this one open far earlier.
After opening the game with an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that saw Henry Burris hook up with five different players, the Stamps offence failed to score a major until late in the fourth when Marc Boerigter scored his first major of the year.
In between was a mixed bag that saw the offence continually squander great field position courtesy of McMahon. To put it in perspective, despite the Argos having 51 yards of total offence at the half, the Stamps only led 13-3.
Make no mistake, it was a marked improvement from the previous two weeks as Burris did well to protect the ball and avoid turnovers.
"We're not where we want to be, but what's encouraging is we made some big plays when we needed to," said Boerigter, one of the receivers still having trouble with dropped balls. "Offensively, we were a 'C' because we didn't finish drives."
A crowd announced at 28,202 saw an improved Stamps' defence that deserves credit for limiting the Argos to 203 yards while forcing McMahon to hurry throws.
"It's the first step for us after what we just went through," said linebacker Scott Coe of the defence. "Granted it's not their starting quarterback, they didn't have Arland Bruce and some of their receivers are banged up. But a win is a win. We'll take it."
Yes, Burris passed for over 300 yards against a great defence, Joffrey Reynolds ran for over 100 yards and Jeremaine Copeland's 114-yard effort prompted him to declare the game a "turning point" for the club.
However, it was all made possible by a visiting coach who said afterwards he simply needed to know what sort of talent he has in McMahon.
He got his answer, allowing the Stamps to get two points.