REGINA — Darian Durant is more than ready to show that the 2011 season was an anomaly. After guiding the football team to back-to-back West Division championships in 2009 and 2010, Durant had a sub-par 2011 season.
He is eager though to get back to the Grey Cup and win it in what would be his third try.
The 30-year old quarterback realizes last year was one he would rather forget, but he knows the CFL is a league where you can go from top to bottom in a hurry and from bottom to top as well.
“Last year was just a bump in the road for me,” Durant said following day five of Riders training camp at the University of Regina.
“I haven’t even entered my prime yet, so you better look out for us and the rest of the league had better do the same thing.”
That’s a bold statement for a quarterback to make considering what the Roughriders went through last season, but it is also an indication of the confidence the North Carolina product carries with him onto the field.
“Each and every year is a new year so you get a chance to redeem yourself somewhat and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” Durant said.
“I don’t think I have to prove myself again. I will be the first to admit that we weren’t as good in the key areas as we needed to be and as a result everyone’s play dropped off including mine. It’s a new year and we have new coaches so I’m excited to get back out here and play at the level and the ability that I know I can play at.”
One of the reasons for Durant’s excitement is the arrival of new head coach Corey Chamblin. Like many others, Durant says Chamblin has brought a new attitude to Riderville and it’s one he is definitely embracing.
“He is young, he is energetic and he is very detailed down to the smallest thing. It’s great to have his energy in the locker-room and around the building.” Durant said.
“I love his philosophies and I love the way he thinks. In order for us to reach our goal, we have to be on the same page and I think we are.”
Durant is quick to praise the Riders new head coach and he is just as quick to return that praise.
“The one thing I told Darian when I first got here was that a poor carpenter blames his tools and that a skilled carpenter sharpens his,” Chamblin said.
“He has been very sharp in this first week of camp and he has been the leader we need him to be. He’s had success in this league and while last year wasn’t a good year for him, I think he will really excel this year and get back to where he was a couple of years ago.”
While Durant concentrates on the playbook that offensive coordinator Bob Dyce has given him, he is also further showing his leadership by having to serve as a coach to the quarterbacks vying to be number two and three on the depth-chart as J.T. O’Sullivan, Colt Brennan, Drew Willy and Levi Brown don’t have a down of CFL experience so it’s up to Durant to show the four guys what is needed to be successful.
“I’m trying to help those guys out and coach them up as best I can. It’s a very confusing game with all the movement so I’m trying the best I can to educate them,” Durant said.
“If something happens to me, they need to step in and make plays so I need to help them recognize what is what and how to adapt.”
As Durant mentioned, he feels as if he is just starting to enter his prime and that the best is yet to come.
“I’ve put up some good numbers by being wide-eyed, running around and using my athletic ability to run around,” Durant admitted.
“The game is slowing down for me and I’m recognizing more and more what the defences are trying to do. That’s where Coach Chamblin comes in big as well because he has a great defensive mind so he is telling me what they are thinking and how they are trying to stop me. With him by my side, hopefully we can get back to being the Saskatchewan Roughriders that we were in 2009 and 2010.”
The organization committed to him by signing him to a long-term contract during the off-season. Now, it’s up to Durant to show the team that they made the right decision.