Dunigan: Argos' Ray is a rare talent; playing in the zone

Matt Dunigan
11/14/2013 1:11:41 PM
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The Professor Ricky Ray has been putting on a clinic just about every time he's been on the field in 2013.

I'm loving watching this guy go out there and nonchalantly dismantle defence after defence and effortlessly complete ball after ball after ball.

Ray's unmatched accuracy (77.2 percent completion rate and 21 touchdown passes to only two interceptions in 2013) is extremely rare. I've called many of his games when he's torching defences and I can't emphasize it enough for fans to take notice and enjoy it while they can. Quarterbacks like Ray come around but every half century or so...rare indeed!

What's giving this pulse-less and pure passing quarterback a chance to succeed even more than usual is he is matched with a coach, Scott Milanovich, that gets it; he himself having been there before. It's like the perfect storm: a head coach that has played the position before equipped with a tremendous offensive scheme coupled with, in my opinion, the most accurate pure passer the CFL has ever seen!

Know this, when you are on top of your game as a quarterback, there's nothing a defence can show you, throw at you, or do to you that you don't have an answer for offensively.

It's a state or level we all try to achieve and get to. When you do, or if you do, you just hope that your physical skills are still at a premium level so you can maximize the knowledge you have. That's when you are hitting on all cylinders and truly a general on the field of play. I try and explain it to people like this: when you are in that zone I just described, you are connecting all the dots before the ball is even snapped, meaning you already know where you are going with the football before the play starts.

The formation, pre-snap motion, positioning of each and every defender and their reactions only verify what you already know. It's now just getting the ball in your hands and using your eyes in order to expand a hole for a receiver or move a defender just a bit more, and then you plant your back foot and - with great confidence, timing, and accuracy - you trust your eyes and pull the trigger!

Ray does this more consistently than anyone else in the league, period! The video tells you as much, just about every play he's on the field; like the old saying goes, “The eye in the sky never lies.”

You can see the prior preparation coming into play: the experience, the talent, and the recognition. When it does, now you are throwing with confidence and spotting the football. Pitching and catching!

Another guy that comes to mind that is pure and as prepared as Ray is a guy named Peyton Manning. You see him connect the dots don't you? Well that's what Ray is doing, and he's doing it with only 20 seconds every play or half the time Manning gets! Impressive, I know!

Now I'm not saying that he's unstoppable, I'm just telling you he's extremely rare. My good friend and colleague Gord Miller once told me, “Having a good quarterback does not guarantee that you are going to win, but not having one guarantees you won't.” Enjoy folks, because this guy is special and he's in that ZONE.

The Argos have developed a really nice alternative to the three-time Grey Cup winner in Zach Collaros. Zach has showed us all that there are several ways to be successful at quarterback. Young, talented and extremely mobile are just a few of his positive attributes. Two other strengths are his creativity when the initial structure of a play breaks down and his resilience. You think this guy's down and out and he gets up off the canvas and starts to dominate and find a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The quarterbacking carousel and talent pool does not stop there for the Argonauts. We have had a chance to see Trevor Harris a little this season and got a glimpse of Mitchell Gale as well. Both these young quarterbacks have the skill set to be successful in this league. Their hurdles and struggles are finding the opportunity to prove it.

The Eastern Final between the Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats is surprisingly rare. In fact, it's the first time since 1986. But that's not as rare as the Argos' Ricky Ray. Go down to the Rogers Centre this Sunday, buy a ticket and watch this guy connect the dots!

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