Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin doesn’t have much to complain about after five weeks of football. His club not only has an undefeated record, but they have also won all of their games by at least two scores.
It’s not as though the Roughriders’ schedule has been soft either. Besides their opening season victory against the Edmonton Eskimos, they have played teams expected to make the playoffs: the Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts and two against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
In the Roughriders’ latest game, a 32-20 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on July 27, they didn’t even have their No. 1 quarterback in the match. In replace of Darian Durant, Drew Willy stepped in and ran the offense as though he was a seasoned veteran.
“Pretty good, of course,” said Chamblin on Willy’s performance. “Drew’s our No. 2 quarterback for a reason. He’s on our roster for a reason. It’s positive to see that he can keep the team rolling. That’s his job and I was proud of the job he did.’’
Durant was healthy enough to suit up, but the Riders sat him for precautionary reasons.
“He could have played,” said Chamblin. “I don’t want to give a percentage, but I think it was one of the smart things where we knew he could get some extra healing. It had nothing to do with who the opponent was. If we felt that he needed to go, we would have done that, but we wanted to see what Drew had. We didn’t want to take any risks there.”
Kory Sheets has easily taken on the role of hero. He has rushed for 712 yards on 118 carries for an impressive 6.0-yard average. He doesn’t just lead the league in rushing yards, he is 211 yards ahead of Stampeders running back Jon Cornish who sits behind him on the tailback totem pole. He was rewarded for his dominance by being named the CFL’s Offensive Player of the Month.
Following their bye week, the Roughriders play the Stampeders on Friday, August 9. The match has the makings of the Riders’ toughest test of the season with Drew Tate making his return to Calgary’s lineup from injury.
“Drew Tate … that’s what Huf said at this point,” said Chamblin. “I’d really like to know which receivers they’re playing, also, because they have a lof of injuries and they’ve been shuffling the deck. But we’ll prepare for Drew and prepare for all the quarterbacks the same. I think they run pretty much the same offence. Each guy probably has a different skill set.’’
As expected, Durant will be back in the Roughriders’ centre field for Week 7.
“I feel okay,” said Durant. “I know where the pain is and I know what I can tolerate. Now it’s just all about making sure nothing further aggravates it and we can keep the healing process going. The doctors told me today that as long as we don’t have anyone fall on it or anything we should see improvements each and every week from this point on.”
If the Roughriders top the Stampeders, they win the season series. Chamblin isn’t, however, too worried about the game’s extra stakes.
“Myself, these players and these coaches, we put enough pressure on ourselves to where we want to be 1-and-0, because it’s either 1-and-0 or 0-and-1,” said the head coach. “That’s the biggest thing. We’ve got to put all our energy into this week to go 1-and-0. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the season series or whoever it is, because you can lose all the rest. So we’ve got to make sure we’re 1-and-0 this week and then we’ll go from there.’’