It is clear that if the Saskatchewan Roughriders are going to get back to the CFL playoffs in 2012 after a one year hiatus, it's up to Corey Chamblin to lead them there.
The first year head coach snapped his club out of the doldrums in a big way last week by guaranteeing that Calgary running back Jon Cornish would not rush for 100 yards when the two teams met Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.
It was a brash, bold statement by the rookie sideline boss but it was very similar to his early-season bravado which guided the team to a 3-0 start.
However he pulled his horns in around the start of August, and the club stumbled into a stretch where they lost six of their next eight games. Perhaps he felt he couldn't keep pushing his team so hard over an 18-game schedule.
However, last week's brazen guarantee caught everyone's attention across the CFL and may have even served to fire up both teams. To say the Stampeders were unimpressed by the comment would be an understatement.
But they were unable to do anything about it on Sunday afternoon, as Cornish was limited to 67 rushing yards in a 30-25 Roughrider victory. A ferocious Rider pass-rush served up four sacks and knocked starting Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn out of the game which the clock winding down in the fourth quarter.
Are the Riders a better team than Calgary? That's a tough call, but they certainly were on that day. The win upped Saskatchewan's record to 6-6 but they still trail the second-place Stampeders who fell to 7-5. These teams won't meet again until a potential playoff showdown as the Stamps won the season series 2-1.
Lost in the shuffle on Sunday was the return of quarterback Darian Durant, who missed the team's Week 12 loss in Montreal with a hip injury. He was sensational against Calgary, tossing two touchdowns and wasn't responsible for any turnovers.
"I told the guys I wanted them to play tough and we got it," Chamblin said after the match. "It was a team effort but Darian Durant looked as good as he has in a long time and I was proud of him. He gave it up today. It was a great team effort in all three phases."
So now we're left guessing what Chamblin has up his sleeve in the way of motivational tactics as the team enters the 2012 stretch drive. The team has six games remaining and none of them will be easy. Again, it will be up to Chamblin to push the right buttons and it begins with a visit from the 9-3 BC Lions this Saturday night in Regina.
"Guarantees?" Chamblin quizzed after the game. "I guarantee we'll play a football game here next week against the BC Lions."
What happens between now and then will be very interesting.
Sunday's victory capped a very special weekend in Saskatchewan. Two nights before the game Rider greats Ed Buchanan, Andrew Greene, Nate Davis and builder Tom Robinson were inducted into the Rider Plaza of Honor (the franchise's version of a Hall of Fame). For the first time ever the entire team was at the event and it showed them the importance the team has within the province. A record 1,451 patrons were in attendance and it raised $245,000 for the club.
So now the club plunges into the meat of the schedule and they're in a true dogfight. Last year at this time the Riders rattled off five consecutive losses to take them out of post-season contention but that is a distant memory.
The 2012 Riders are a young, talented group which has looked up to Chamblin for guidance each step of the way. However they've added some key pieces along the way, most notably linebackers Joe Lobendahn and Diamond Ferri as well as kicker Sandro DeAngelis. They all made an impact over the middle third of the schedule and their contributions will be counted on even more down the homestretch.
Buckle up fans. This is where it gets fun!