Paul LaPolice hopes Caleb Evans learns from veteran Nick Arbuckle’s successful first start

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

Ottawa Redblacks’ head coach Paul LaPolice was pleased with quarterback Nick Arbuckle’s first start with the team and hopes it can serve as a learning opportunity for Caleb Evans.

“You can tell somebody, ‘Hey, watch so-and-so playing for this team, look what he does, look how he processes information and look how he sees the throws and takes the throws.’ But it’s a totally different thing when it’s somebody who you sit with every day and you watch maybe even the same play calls and everything. ‘Oh, look how quickly he progressed from this read to this read.’ When it’s in your own system, I think those are great lessons for young quarterbacks,” LaPolice told TSN 1200.

Arbuckle completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 219 yards in a 25-18 victory over the Edmonton Elks, ending the team’s two-game losing skid. He targeted eight different receivers over the course of the game with starters Nate Behar, Darvin Adams, Jaelon Acklin, and Ryan Davis all tying to lead the team with four receptions in the game.

“I think he distributed the ball very well. … When the primary throw wasn’t there, he found the secondary one to keep us on the field,” said LaPolice.

“We had nine (second-down) conversions of under six yards and when you have that, it’s because you have first-down productivity. He did a good job of when the throws were open downfield — like he hit Nate Behar on a big bomb early in the game — but also when the throws weren’t there he took the checkdowns to keep us on the field and spread the ball around to the receivers.”

Evans was relegated to a backup role after starting five consecutive games in place of an injured Jeremiah Masoli. He was still involved in the offence against Edmonton — he ran for two touchdowns and threw a 33-yard pass in short yardage — but was a spectator for most of the game.

LaPolice was impressed with Arbuckle’s ability to make fast decisions with the football, a skill that he feels takes time to develop at the professional level.

“He’s had a little bit more experience and certainly he’s seen (so many) pictures, maybe, so it allows him to process faster. There’s a lot of young quarterbacks getting opportunities to play right now in the league and what happens is it’s sometimes hard for them to see those pictures and process and go to the next spot,” said LaPolice.

The Redblacks remain last in the East Division with a 2-8 record but have a chance to get within two points of the second-place Montreal Alouettes (4-6) when the clubs meet on Friday. The Als won back-to-back games against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats before entering a bye in Week 12.

“They’ve really started to play well the last couple weeks and Trevor [Harris has] done a nice job for them,” said LaPolice. “Defensively, they’re fast and they’re running around so we’ve got our hands full going over to their place, but we’re happy to get the win last week and we’ll be focused on taking care of business in Montreal to keep us in the hunt.”