Coming off a disappointing loss in B.C., Toronto Argonauts GM Jim Barker knows his team will have to respond with a better effort at home versus a Roughrider squad he describes as "right now the best team in the league."
Speaking with Bill Hayes and Steve Simmons on Mike Richards in the Morning on TSN 1050, Barker said the Argos are looking forward to the test that the only undefeated team in the CFL will provide.
"Right now they're the best team in the league…George Cortez has done a very solid job of utilizing the players they have on offence," Barker said. "When you play offence like they've been playing it, it helps your defence because they're not on the field as much."
In addition to leading the league in points scored, Saskatchewan's defence has allowed the fewest points in the league and Barker knows they will provide a tough test for Ricky Ray and the Argos offence.
"On defence, they've added Renauld Williams into the middle and (become) more veteran," Barker said. "They got John Chick back who has helped them a lot. He and (Ricky) Foley are playing on their ends. So they're veteran, they're solid, they know how to play together."
Barker said the Argos defence is still looking to develop a chemistry and consistency that is needed to win at a consistent level.
The secondary is of particular concern, allowing a total of 610 yards in the air to Henry Burris and Travis Lulay in the season's first two contests.
Although Barker said Pat Watkins and Jalil Carter have provided solid play on the outside, the team is still looking to develop some youngsters on the interior.
"We've got a defence that's learning, we got guys that we're tinkering with, making changes each week there," Barker said.
He explained the coaching staff has liked what they've seen on the defensive line from Khalif Mitchell and University of Western Ontario product David Lee in particular, but that too is a "work in progress" as the team continues to adjust to a quarter of the roster being turned over from last season.
Barker said the Week 2 matchup with the Lions was a tough one because of the time difference and long flight to the West coast, but the GM refused to use excuses to explain the loss.
"We just didn't play well," Barker said. "We didn't coach well, we didn't play well, we didn't manage well, nothing was good."
Still, he has confidence Ray and reigning MOP Chad Kackert will bounce back and improve on their 16 point performance versus the Lions, which included a meaningless late rushing TD by Ray.
"We feel like our offence is as good as any in the league and we'll see how that goes Thursday night, should be a great game."