Continuing our weekly Three Stars series, here’s a look at the top offensive, defensive and special teams players from Week Four, plus a bonus entry for the week’s top Canadian.
First star/offensive player of the week: Darian Durant, quarterback, Saskatchewan Roughriders. Durant was critical to Saskatchewan’s 37-0 destruction of Hamilton Sunday, completing 20 of 32 passes for 347 yards (a 62.5 per cent completion rate) and four touchdowns. Sure, much of that success came relatively late in the game, but it was still impressive. Durant's play this year hasn’t quite gotten the attention teammate Kory Sheets has received (setting all-time CFL records the way Sheets has will do that), but he's been an important factor in the Roughriders’ success. His total of 1,021 passing yards is the third-best in the league, and he’s been clinically efficient, completing 69.2 per cent of his passes and throwing 12 touchdowns with no interceptions. If he keeps this level of play up, it could be a great year for Saskatchewan.
(Honourable mentions: Rob Bagg, WR, Saskatchewan; Jon Cornish, RB, Calgary; Andrew Harris, RB, B.C.)
Second star/defensive player of the week: Chip Cox, linebacker, Montreal Alouettes. The Alouettes fell short against Calgary Saturday, allowing the biggest comeback after the first quarter in CFL history en route to a 38-27 loss, but Cox was a key part of the reason they had a chance in this game. He flew to the ball all night, recording a game-high 12 tackles (the next-highest total on either team was five), regularly pressuring Stampeders’ quarterbacks Kevin Glenn and Bo Levi Mitchell and adding a sack and an interception. It was a terrific night for Cox, even if it was a disappointing one for his team.
(Honourable mentions: Rey Williams, LB, Saskatchewan; Cordarro Law, DE, Calgary; Marcus Ball, LB, Toronto.)
Third star/special teams player of the week: Fred Bennett, defensive back, Calgary Stampeders. It’s rare to give a special teams award to a cover guy, but Bennett thoroughly deserved it for making perhaps the play of the CFL season thus far against Montreal Saturday. Shortly after the Stampeders gained their first lead of the contest late in the third quarter, Alouettes’ returner Noel Devine (who had a great night himself, picking up 175 yards on four kick returns and 72 yards on five punt returns) found a hole in the Calgary coverage and broke a 108-yard return, seemingly set for the end zone. Bennett didn’t give up on the play, though, chasing down the speedy Devine from behind and punching the ball loose: it rolled through the end zone, giving Calgary possession. The play was similar to Chris Williams’ infamous fumbles at the goal line (which themselves recalled Leon Lett’s), except that Devine wasn’t noticeably loafing: Bennett just managed to catch up with him. It was a tremendous play, one that helped maintain the Stampeders’ momentum and set up their victory.
(Honourable mentions: Noel Devine, PR/KR, Montreal; Rene Paredes, K, Calgary; Chris Milo, P/K, Saskatchewan.)
Bonus star/Canadian player of the week: Rob Bagg, wide receiver, Saskatchewan: Bagg continued his remarkable comeback with five catches for a game-high 125 yards and two touchdowns in the Riders' 37-0 romp over Hamilton Sunday. Not bad for a guy who hadn't caught a touchdown since 2010 before last week thanks to blowing out both ACLs in successive years. He's becoming a critical part of the Saskatchewan offence, and could be crucial to the Riders' hopes this year.
(Honourable mentions: Jon Cornish, RB, Calgary; Andrew Harris, RB, B.C.; Andre Durie, SB, Toronto.)