Paul LaPolice hasn’t chosen starting quarterback for Week 12 as Redblacks explore ‘all options’

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

Ottawa Redblacks’ head coach Paul LaPolice has yet to make a decision regarding who will start at quarterback this weekend when his team plays the second half of a home-and-home series against the Edmonton Elks.

“We’ll address that as the practices go but we’re certainly looking at all options to make sure we can play better whether it’s offence, defence or special teams,” LaPolice told TSN 1200.

“Caleb (Evans) was moving the ball pretty well early in the first quarter. We’ve gotta be more consistent. You can’t be great in the first quarter and then have a bad second quarter or a bad third quarter, so that’s what we wanna make sure we focus on.”

Evans completed 10-of-16 pass attempts for 111 yards in the 30-12 loss and ran nine times for 82 yards and a touchdown. He has thrown for 963 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions since taking over the starting role from an injured Jeremiah Masoli in Week 6, posting a 1-4 record.

LaPolice said he decided to put Nick Arbuckle into the game late in the third quarter but wasn’t able to do so until after the Elks finished a 15-play touchdown drive that took up the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter. Arbuckle previously came on in relief of Evans in the club’s Week 9 loss to the Calgary Stampeders.

“In the third quarter, unfortunately, we had a two-and-out and when you have a two-and-out, you can’t control whether you have the ball because what Edmonton did a very good job of in the third and the fourth quarter is they controlled the clock. We didn’t have many opportunities and when we did, we didn’t stay on the field,” said LaPolice.

“We missed some throws and some points when we had guys open to stay on the field and then Edmonton did a great job of staying on the field and having long ten-play drives and eight-play drives and chewing up the clock on us.”

The Redblacks generated only five first downs and 88 yards of offence in the second half, leading to questions regarding the team’s ability to make adjustments at halftime. LaPolice dismissed the concerns, suggesting Edmonton simply made more plays in the late stages of the game.

“They were able to execute in the third quarter and we weren’t. I don’t know if it’s a situation of what they decided to do at halftime or what we decided to do. Their execution was better,” said LaPolice.

“Obviously, we’re very frustrated. The day after the game everyone was frustrated and certainly, we understand how frustrating it is for the fans too, but then we have to live it the next morning and go back to it (by watching the film). There’s a lot of conversations the day after the game of making sure we’re in the right mindset and that we watch the film, see where we can improve. They get two days off and we’ve gotta come back and compete.”

The Redblacks got some good news following the loss to Edmonton when DeVonte Dedmon, the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Special Teams Players, rejoined the team following a stint with the Miami Dolphins.

“We’re excited to have him back, we’re disappointed he didn’t get more opportunities from the NFL. He’s a great young individual and I enjoyed my time with him last year but when he was released, I sent him a text message and he really reached out to our organization about wanting to be back and be here. … We expect him to bring great things to our return game,” said LaPolice.

The Redblacks would like to get Dedmon involved on offence, though LaPolice indicated that doing so can be tricky because of the attention he draws from opposing defences. The speedster played a minor role in the offence last season, recording 10 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown as well as 11 receptions for 103 yards.

“The hard part is you want to get him in and get him touches but he can’t when he goes in always be the guy touching the ball because everyone’s just waiting for him to touch it. So we’ve gotta have a small package where at times he’s in the game and he’s part of the pass reads but certainly not the primary. And there are times you just want to get the ball in his hands, so we’ve gotta mix and match and start creating stuff like that.”

The Redblacks are now 1-8 on the season and sit six points back of the Montreal Alouettes for a playoff spot in the East Division. LaPolice has a 4-18 record as Ottawa’s head coach dating back to last season and patience from local fans has worn razor-thin. When asked why members of R-Nation should still have faith in his ability to turn the team around, LaPolice expressed optimism.

“I believe in our process,” said LaPolice. “I just want to make sure I’m the best for the players each day and make sure we’re doing our best to prepare to win and we believe good things are coming to this club.”