July 7, 2019

Arbuckle shakes off jitters early in first CFL start

Nick Arbuckle takes the field ahead of his first CFL start. (Arthur Ward, CFL.ca)

REGINA — After piecing together a 37-10 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders Saturday night, Calgary quarterback Nick Arbuckle said his confidence carried over from last week’s win over the Lions when he came in for relief of an injured Bo Levi Mitchell.

“It’s a great feeling in the locker room,” said the sophomore quarterback. “And it’s not just me coming in, we have a lot of backups that have been thrust into starting roles, and you get that feeling with everyone that’s in. We all know that every player that steps out onto the field is going to execute their job and is going to take care of business.”

Making his first CFL start since entering the league last year, Arbuckle completed 19 of his 22 pass attempts against Saskatchewan, showing great patience in the pocket, as well as some ability to extend plays and freelance when necessary.

He passed for 262 yards and two touchdowns, including a 76-yard to Reggie Begelton, who he connected with in-stride deep down the middle of the field to put one of the final daggers into the Riders defence.

Stats: Stamps, Riders Box Score
» Images: Calgary at Saskatchewan
» Highlights: Tre Roberson records 5th INT, 1st pick-six of the season
» Recap: Stamps show 4th quarter horsepower in victory


“It felt good. It was a long time since my last start in my career, I kind of didn’t know what to feel. It was good to be able to build on things from drive to drive, make adjustments, and react to their adjustments,” said Arbuckle following the game. “There were a lot of nerves before the game. I remember that when I was starting every game and it was the end of the season.”

Last year, Arbuckle mostly saw himself being utilized as a short-yardage quarterback in a year that saw Bo Levi Mitchell lead the Stamps to a Grey Cup Championship. Mitchell’s backup completed the season with five rushing touchdowns off of 35 carries for 73 yards.

Despite some nerves with a week’s worth of preparation and a sure sign that he’d be getting the starting nod with the injury to Mitchell, it wasn’t long before the former Georgia State pivot was able to shake off the jitters.

“That first drive, when we marched down the field, it just felt like football,” he said.

With a system like the one Head Coach Dave Dickenson has implemented over the years in Calgary, the five-time Grey Cup Champion seemed pleased with the performance the 25-year-old put forth.

“He’s a confident kid,” said Dickenson. “He did a great job in handling that noise. You can tell he knows what he’s doing. He’s letting the defence take him to his throws and he’s not afraid to take a chance.”

With the Stampeders now improved to 2-1, and Mitchell’s return still in question after being placed on the six-game injury list this past week, Dickenson says the true challenge lies ahead of Arbuckle in how he progresses.

“He’ll have to keep doing it, that’s the tough thing. But I do think he’ll probably have that opportunity for at least the next few weeks.”

Calgary will continue their road trip east to Hamilton in Week 5 when they take on the Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field next Saturday, giving Arbuckle the opportunity to possibly go 2-0 as Calgary’s starter.