CFL.ca is already musing whether or no Nick Arbuckle is, “the next one.” I’d say too early to tell. But two words do describe his play after his first start (and win) in the CFL: poise and accuracy.
Arbuckle seems to have the tools to win, and that’s what the Stamps will need heading into the next two months.
Last year the Saskatchewan Roughriders took the season series two games to one. This year, as is every year in the CFL, the teams look a lot different. The Riders seem to consistently find money to pick up talent developed in Calgary. The defensive line for example. But that wasn’t the story of the game.
For the first time in CFL History two brothers squared off as head coaches. And behind center, it was the battle of the backup quarterbacks. Bo Mitchell was placed on a six-game injured reserve list with a pectoral injury. That has paved the way for the emergence of Nick Arbuckle. The twenty-four year-old pivot hasn’t started a meaningful football game in three years.
Most pundits haven’t given Calgary the benefit of the doubt for the next six games. After all the, schedule goes through a number of difficult teams particularly out West. But that’s not the only problem, the Stampeders are still trying to find their way on all three sides of the football. Injuries and issues on the defensive line and linebacker corps, coupled with a lack of run game, chief among them.
But from kick-off a completely different team that started against BC the week prior took to the field. Calgary marched down the field, taking the ball after winning the toss, and scored a major on their first possession. Arbuckle continued his accuracy and his decision-making was very good throughout the game. Although the offensive line gave up three sacks, they kept the likes of Charleston Hughes and Micah Johnson in check. They gave Arbuckle enough time to see big throws. The O line attacked with the run game and got that off the ground. With Don Jackson out with a concussion and placed on the 6 game injured reserve list, coming off of the practice roster was former NFL running back Ka-Deem Carey. Terry Williams also handled the rock and together they put up 129 yards.
The offence did enough to extend plays at crucial times and that was enough for the win. Although the game was close going into the third quarter, relentless pressure and big plays late ended it. In particular, what can be said about stand-up defensive back Tre Roberson? Now with five interceptions on the year, and two this game. He recorded his first Pick 6, returning an interception in the fourth quarter to kill any momentum the Riders had.
The Stampeders will build from this win and will make teams think twice. Nick Arbuckle behind center can do enough to help this team win games. They’ll need it, along with another solid game plan, when they visit Hamilton next week.