Prime time for 'D' to pick on Durant

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Shannon James' eyes bug out at the stat.

In the past six games, the Calgary Stampeders defence has just one interception.

Over the course of an 18-game CFL season, that would amount to a total of three.

Suddenly, the ballhawks have flown south for the winter.

Included in that is two outings against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, when the league's leading pick-thrower, Darian Durant, hasn't tossed up a duck.

Is this an issue heading into Sunday's West final in Regina? To say the least.

"I'm glad you told me that because I will bring it to everyone's attention," said James, who spends the majority of his time covering slotbacks. "It's key to get turnovers. Those are big in any game, but they will be huge in this one because it's on the road and those are momentum swings. Any way we can get them -- fumbles, picks -- we will need them."

The Stamps managed to finish seventh in the CFL with 13 interceptions this season, but the team created 47 takeaways, which was fourth overall.

The team had a second-best turnover ratio (plus-9) based on an offence that committed only 38 turnovers.

Both Dwight Anderson and Brandon Browner lead the Stamps with three INTs each, while safeties Milt Collins and Wes Lysack have a pair apiece. Rookie Davanzo Tate, who was released, John Eubanks and Keon Raymond have one pick each.

In the win over the Edmonton Eskimos in the West semi- final, there were several chances for interceptions. Collins went for a hit on the first toss from Ricky Ray, while Dwaine Carpenter and Keon Raymond had their mitts on passes but whiffed.

Collins has the only pick in six weeks, and that came against the B.C. Lions Oct. 31.

"Ooo," said Raymond about the numbers. "There's no help from me because I'm dropping them. Turnovers are a big part of this game, especially in a huge one like this. If we get our hands on one, we can't afford to let one slip away.

"A lot of my compadres told me when I let that one go that 'Key has to have that.' We have to have that. We need to take advantages of those opportunities when they present themselves. I dropped an interception in my first playoff. I was getting the jitters out. It's something to build off from the first game."

What is odd about Durant's interception totals is his turnaround against the Stamps.

In three games against the Stamps, Durant threw just one interception -- to Anderson Aug. 1.

He finished with a passer rating of 115.5 against the Stamps, and it was 75.6 against everybody else.

"He likes playing Calgary for some reason," James said. "That's all over with, and this is a new game. We have way bigger stakes on the line. We're not worried about what happened in the last game."

The Riders are one of two teams in the CFL without a 1,000-yard receiver, and their only all-star, Weston Dressler, has missed the past two meetings with the Stamps.

Browner says the Riders receiving corps is better than the sum of their parts because of Durant.

"Darian Durant is one of the best quarterbacks in this league," Browner said. "His running ability is what makes him so great. We have to contain him to get a W. With a mobile quarterback, he buys time for his guys. We need to get pressure up front, bring him down but also get hands on the receivers to slow them."

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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