Simply put, the heat has been cranked up in Riderville.
Through six games this season, it's safe to say that the Riders have gone through the highs and the lows of what most teams would undergo in an entire season.
What’s been the reason? It’s easy. They’ve been making the mistakes they weren’t making in the first three games of the season.
One of the even bigger dangers in Saskatchewan is having one of the youngest teams in the league.
Preview: Saskatchewan at BC Wk. 8
Is this young team capable of doing what Head Coach Corey Chamblin preaches and put the past in the past and work towards Sunday night’s game.
It’s a task that needs to start with the leaders, especially with quarterback Darian Durant.
“Seeing as how I’m one of the vets on the squad, you have to tell the young guys who have never been through an 18 game season that there is a long way to go and most guys coming from college only played 11 games in a season.”
Durant says it was a test for the leadership core after the first three games of the season as the confidence built in the locker room.
“I constantly talked about how things can go in a season and how things can change in a blink of an eye. You need to make sure you take it one week at a time and not necessarily feel like you’re on top of the world just because you’re winning a few games.”
That’s not to say the Roughriders got cocky, but the rest of the league has definitely caught up to the Riders after they started off firing on all cylinders.
Now this young team is getting a taste of what it means to play in Saskatchewan, where everyone and their dog has an opinion, especially when losses pile up.
Durant and others have been through the losing streak before and know how to handle themselves and they are passing that down to the new players in the locker room.
“As a football team we discuss what we need to worry about inside our locker room what we need to do to get ourselves better on the field as a team and as players,” explains veteran receiver Weston Dressler.
“What’s said in the media is said whether it’s right or wrong, it’s going to be said so you can’t focus too much on that just put the trust in our coaching staff that what they’re saying is what we got to do.”
And what they have to do is ‘finish’. That’s been the most used phrase through this losing streak.
Whether it is a matter of finishing games in the fourth quarter or finishing drives on offence there is a lack of it in Saskatchewan.
Last week they had just 20 points to show for their 500 yards of offence.
However, while Durant continues to be able to move the ball, the defence is now looking for answers as well.
After allowing 16, 1 and 20 points in the first three games of the season, they have allowed an average of over 35 points a game since then.
Defensive tackle Keith Shologan feels they aren’t too far off from where they were early in the season.
“You have to stay level headed and you have to just be putting your head down and do your work. If you do your job every single time and if everybody is doing their assignments than they won’t be able to get anything on us and that’s the important thing; to get everybody ingrained into thinking that we don’t look at the last play we look towards the next one.”
The next play will be against the B.C. Lions, a team the Riders defeated in Week 3 action.
Durant and company desperately don’t want to extend this losing streak to four games and fall further behind the Lions. However, he’s ready if they do.
Durant noted the four game losing streak that came at the end of the 2010 season; one that ended in another trip to the Grey Cup.
“I’ve been through pretty much everything you can go through, from winning streaks to losing. We’ve come out on top in some cases and in other cases we’ve sunk.”
“We’re a young team and we have to learn how to deal with adversity.”
Sunday will be a good indication on how well this young team can handle some heat.