06/26/2013 02:31 EDT | Updated 08/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan Roughriders hoping to continue recent Grey Cup trend

REGINA - The 1989 Grey Cup is remembered in Saskatchewan primarily for The Kick – Dave Ridgway's game winning field goal that gave the Roughriders their second CFL championship.

But it's also the only time since the league adopted an 18-game regular season in 1986 that a team just two years removed from a five-win season went on to win the Grey Cup.

That's not the only trend that favours the Roughriders. Saskatchewan is also aiming to become the third straight host team to hoist the Grey Cup, after B.C. and Toronto won at home in 2011 and 2012.

While the 2013 Roughriders would love for history to repeat itself, they're just not ready to talk about it yet.

"We can't worry about the Grey Cup right now," said quarterback Darian Durant, returning for his fifth full season as the undisputed starter.

"We have to take it one game at a time. If we focus on the Grey Cup we'll overlook every team in front of us. We'll deal with that when we come to it but right now we're focused on Edmonton and going 1-0."

This year's Riders are actually looking more closely following in the footsteps of the 2007 Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who went 5-13 in 2005, replaced their head coach for 2006 and went 9-9.

In 2007, Doug Berry's second season as coach, the Bombers added a new offensive coordinator (Kit Cartwright) and top receiver (Terrence Edwards) en route to the Grey Cup game, which they lost to Saskatchewan.

Sound familiar?

Saskatchewan's 5-13 record in 2011 led to a massive housecleaning that included bringing Corey Chamblin on board as head coach.

The Roughriders were 9-9 in 2012 and, this January, traded for six-time all-star slotback Geroy Simon three days after replacing Bob Dyce with George Cortez as offensive co-ordinator.

Cortez will be Durant's fifth offensive co-ordinator in as many years since becoming Saskatchewan's No. 1 QB.

Dyce remains with the Riders as special teams co-ordinator after Craig Dickenson left for Winnipeg.

"He's bringing in his system," Durant said of Cortez, who was fired as Hamilton’s head coach after guiding the Tiger-Cats to a 6-12 record in 2012. "It's a totally different system than we had and everyone's still learning.

"We're learning him, learning his tendencies, learning what he likes and being ready to execute the tendencies he likes ... (but) he has to learn us too."

Immediately prior to his stint with the Ticats, Cortez spent two years as quarterbacks coach for the NFL's Buffalo Bills and three years as the offensive co-ordinator for the Stampeders.

"It's one thing to have a system but when you come in, we don't have Nik Lewis and (Ken-Yon) Rambo and (Jermaine) Copeland and those types of receivers he had (in Calgary)," Durant said.

"So even though it's his system, he still has to adjust it to the personnel he has too and ... it's going to take some time, but I'm comfortable with where we are."

The changes don't stop there.

Gone from last year are defensive backs James Patrick and Eddie Russ, defensive ends Odell Willis and Brent Hawkins, linebacker and former first overall pick Shomari Williams, linebacker Joe Lobendahn and kicker Sandro DeAngelis.

In, besides Simon, are defensive backs Dwight Anderson and Carlos Thomas, defensive ends Ricky Foley and John Chick, linebacker Rey Williams and defensive back-turned-linebacker Weldon Brown.

In addition, Tyron Brackenridge, Saskatchewan's nominee for most outstanding defensive player in 2012, and Craig Butler have swapped positions, with Brackenridge moving to safety and Butler shifting to linebacker.

And, following Saturday's cuts, the placekicking job is Chris Milo's to lose. Milo was replaced by DeAngelis last season but will have one more shot at redemption over the coming weeks. Ricky Schmitt, for the time being, is expected to handle punting duties.

"Punting you'll be able to grade a little bit more than the field goal deals," Chamblin said after the Riders' final pre-season game, a 24-23 loss Thursday to the Calgary Stampeders.

"We'll just have to continue to move forward on and hopefully not have to play musical chairs a lot, but have those guys step up and become accurate field goal kickers for us."

Other key returnees this year include receivers Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf, centre Dominic Picard, left guard Brendon Labatte, and defensive tackles Tearrius George and Keith Shologan.

Saskatchewan opens its season Saturday in Edmonton against the Eskimos and plays its home opener July 5 against the Calgary Stampeders.

"We still have a lot of work to do," said Durant. "I think we're in good shape. We're healthy. But we have to make sure that we're all in."

The 101st Grey Cup will be played Nov. 24 at Mosaic Stadium.