January 31, 2013

Guiding eye: Durant eager to work with Cortez


Mitchell Blair

REGINA — Darian Durant could not control his excitement when he found out the news.

On his Twitter account, Durant said “Looking forward to working with someone who has coached legends, now June has got to hurry up and get here.”

Durant was talking about the team’s announcement that George Cortez has become the Riders’ new offensive coordinator.  Cortez has 19 years of CFL experience as a coach and a coordinator and has four Grey Cup rings to show for his hard work.

He has worked with some of the CFL’s top quarterbacks and as the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last season, he saw his team lead the league in points scored with 538 with quarterback Henry Burris throwing for over 5,300 yards and 43 touchdowns.

He is just as excited to work with Durant and the weapons that he has as Darian is to work with him, which is something that pleases the 61-year-old.

“Darian is one of the top quarterbacks in this league and I know he has some explosive guys to work with,” Cortez said. “He’s been a solid quarterback for the team and I hope to help him become even better. We’ve got some great weapons to work with in guys like (Weston) Dressler and (Kory) Sheets, so I am looking forward at getting in there and devising some plays that work to their strengths.”
This will not be Cortez’s first go-round with the Riders. In 2006, he spent the year here serving as the offensive line coach. It was that stint in Regina that helped him make the decision to come back.

“I just like the atmosphere of the city,” Cortez said. “There is a reputation around the league that living in Regina makes you feel like you’re in a fishbowl, but I never felt that way in 2006. It’s a change of pace when you can get around easily and after living in big cities, I really enjoyed that.

Head Coach Corey Chamblin enjoys the fact he has been able to get Cortez under contract. He fully realizes what Cortez brings to the table and he can’t wait to see him start doing his thing.

“George eats and sleeps football,” Chamblin stated. “He is a master of this game. He is like a walking offence.”

There is no doubt that Cortez has a flair for the offence. He won’t dispute that, but he says there is a reason why he has had so much success.

“It’s the players!” Cortez bellowed.

“When you draw those lines on the board, you need the players to do those things. You need to be able to have good players and have a good plan and convince the players that the plan is a good one and get them to believe. I tell the players all the time to prepare to attack teams on what they’ve done, but sometimes you still have to make plays and at the end of the day if we are one point better than the other guys we will be fine because I know winning in this league is hard.”

There is no doubt looking at Cortez’s resume that he has a flair for the offense and Rider fans should be excited about what he will bring to the table in 2013. In fact, many fans likely agree with Darian Durant’s tweet because like the quarterback, many that cheer for the Riders can’t wait for June to get here.