By Mitchell Blair
To a man, the Saskatchewan Roughriders offence knows they did not play well in Edmonton this past Saturday. Much of the heat has been placed on the shoulders of quarterback Darian Durant. Some corners of the fan base have made some derogatory comments about the North Carolina product in the wake of his effort at Commonwealth Stadium, but the football team is having none of it.
“He is our quarterback” stated Coach Ken Miller in short and succinct fashion when asked if there was any thought of tinkering with the quarterback rotation and perhaps giving Ryan Dinwiddie a shot. “He had a really good practice today and he’s been involved in the plan so he’s been good and extremely motivated. I’m not worried about Darian at all.”
Miller even laughed off comments about people jumping off Durant’s bandwagon saying a lot of people get exercise jumping on and off the bandwagon over the season so its not surprising at all to see people lashing out at him. Miller would say though that Durant was guilty of doing one thing Saturday.
“He was pressing on Saturday trying to carry the offence on his back,” Miller said following Wednesday’s practice at Mosaic Stadium. What he has to do is operate the offence because its set up in a system where if you throw the ball accurately and on time, you will move the ball. It just seemed like he was trying to carry the team on his back and he doesn’t have to do that.”
Miller was also quick to jump on those criticizing the offensive scheme and the fact Prechae Rodriguez seemed to be the only receiver Durant looked at in Saturday’s loss to the Eskimos.
“That criticism isn’t fair,” Miller said. “Balls were thrown to other players, but it so happened Prechae caught seven balls. When Weston Dressler caught 11 against Montreal, I didn’t hear anyone complaining. It’s a matter of who is open is going to get the ball and in this case the guy that was open was Prechae.”
As for Dressler, he is also quick to come to the defence of his quarterback. The receiver says the negative talk about Durant is simply ludicrous.
“Darian knows that the guys are behind him,” Dressler said. “He’s not worried about what people are saying about him. He knows we expect him to play better than he did last week and he expects us to play better too.”
As for Durant, he is laughing off some of the criticism saying the overall picture is still a very good one.
“If that’s the way people feel after one game, than so be it,” said a frustrated Durant. “All I know is we are 5-3 and that’s all that matters. Its one bad game, it’s not the end of the world. We have 10 games to play and I know there’s going to be some good and some bad. I’m just going out there to play football and not worry about what people have to say.”
The team will have practices Thursday and Friday at Mosaic Stadium as they get ready for the annual Labour Day Classic. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Riders will kick it off at 2 o’clock Sunday in a game that is already sold out.