QB feeling loved in Riderville

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

REGINA -- Darian Durant has the guts to say it. He's going for greatness.

"I want to make history here," said the quarterback yesterday, as he stood on the field where Ron Lancaster made so much history dating back to 1976, the last time the Saskatchewan Roughriders finished in first place in the CFL's West Division.

"I can feel that this is the start of something special. Not too many quarterbacks are here more than three or four years," said Durant, adding he'd be quite happy to stay here for a career like the famed Little General.

And that's the kind of career he's decided he can create here if he can continue to grow into the situation he's created for himself.

Already, Durant says, he can feel the love.

"I can feel that my team- mates are behind me," Durant said. "It seems like the province is behind me. You can tell. It's something you can feel here.

"There were a lot of questions in the air coming into the season about our quarterbacking. I'm not hearing those questions any more."

Durant is 10-4 as a starter as he leads his team to play the Edmonton Eskimos here at Mosaic Stadium today.

The last time Durant huddled against the Eskimos, he was 6-0 as a starter, but that's another story.

If you're looking for a reason why the team many had picked to finish in fourth place in the West Division is in first place with a win here today, just look at the development of the quarterback.

It's a QB league, and the Roughriders and their legion of fans from coast to coast are beginning to believe they have one in Durant.

Ken Miller, the Riders coach who looks like he just climbed off a combine, says it's important to remember Durant is a work in progress.

"Darian has improved dramatically," Miller said "He wasn't nearly as consistent as we needed him to be, and he still isn't as consistent as we're going to need him to be.

"But he's improved. And our offence has improved, and we've been able to make it a more sophisticated offence than we were able to do early in the season."

"I'm starting to settle down a bit," said the QB who has the fourth best set of statistics at the position in the league this year with 167 completions in 295 attempts for 2,304 yards.

"I feel good about what's going on," Durant continued. "I feel good about our players. My comfort level is better. The more and more reps I have and the more and more different looks I see from defences, the more the game slows down for me."

He says being 10-4 is a good statistic to have right now, not so much because of what it says about him but because of what it says about the team playing for him.

"I think it says a lot about the team," Durant said. "There are not a lot of young quarterbacks who are welcomed like I've been welcomed by this team and given the kind of support that allows me to have success right away."

In a league where the only marquee men at the position have been Ricky Ray, Henry Burris and Anthony Calvillo in recent years, all of a sudden with Durant here and Quinton Porter in Hamilton, there are new applicants knocking at the door for long-term membership in an exclusive club

And that's making it a better league.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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