Barrett: Allen looking to go out with a bang

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

REGINA -- Saskatchewan Roughriders' head coach Danny Barrett has a theory about why Damon Allen is playing so so well.

He thinks it's all about being in the league for two decades and working with an offensive co-ordinator, Kent Austin, who is a former quarterback.

Barrett had been a teammate of Allen's in B.C. in the late 1990s and helped tutor him as an offensive assistant on the Lions coaching staff.

Heading into last night's loss against the Roughriders at Taylor Field, Allen had established himself as arguably the top offensive player in the East Division for the first 11 games of the season. He had thrown for 3,103 yards and could be headed for his first season with at least 5,000 passing yards. Allen competed 17 of 34 pass attempts last night for 236 yards and even though he served up two interceptions, he eluded several sacks.

"I think he's playing at the level he's playing because he knows his career is coming to an end soon," Barrett said. "Knowing him and the competitive drive that he has, I know he wants to go out not only (with a Grey Cup win), but he wants to one day go out as (most outstanding player). It's only fitting for his career."

Allen never has won the league's Most Outstanding Player Award. In fact, he has never been voted an all-league all-star.

"He hasn't gotten the respect that he deserved," Barrett said. "He's been in the league with a bunch of guys at his position who have put up the big numbers, but from a consistent standpoint his numbers match anybody out there."

Similar to Argos head coach Pinball Clemons, Barrett said too much is made of Allen's age. Allen is 42 and the oldest player in the CFL.

"If we really didn't know how old he was, you wouldn't make an issue out of it," Barrett said. "The fact he is able to do what he is doing at this stage of his career is what really needs to be talked about. He is one of the most resilient guys I've ever seen play this game, anywhere. You look at him and he can still probably play another five, six years if people wouldn't keep bringing up the fact (he'll be replaced by a younger guy).

"Why is that? As long as he is productive, let him continue to do what he is doing."

Barrett said some of Allen's current success is directly related to working with Austin, who had a lengthy career as a quarterback.

"I'm pretty sure they can sit in a meeting and not even have to talk really, just say, 'I see what you see," Barrett surmised. "I think they're doing a great job of mixing all of their people into the flow of the offence. When you've got those types of guys, it can become an ego thing, but I don't see it.

"From a distance, it looks like they support and encourage one another and whoever makes a play doesn't matter.

"... Damon's just having the time of his life because he's probably had more weapons in the past couple of years than he has ever had in his career."

Quarterback Damon Allen turned the ball over three times as the Argonauts lost but maintained their lead in the East Division.


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