Selnes: Notes on players and coaches

With the Riders having the week off, some notes on players and coaches from this year and last year’s Grey Cup.

I spoke with Nick Arbuckle during Grey Cup week in Edmonton last November.

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He was an impressive young man. He has the confidence and presence you want in a quarterback.

What struck me was his comment that he has always had to work his way up to be the starting quarterback. From high school through junior college through university to the Stampeders he has always come in as the backup and worked his way to being the starter. He said that he is alright with being the backup as long as he can say to himself he is the hardest worker and can see himself getting a little better from year to year.

It is a philosophy that had him ready to step in as starter this season when Bo Levi Mitchell was injured. I doubt Bo Levi could have won more games than Arbuckle. He is going to be in demand this winter as he is showing week after week he is ready to be a starter in the CFL.

I spoke with another impressive man during Grey Cup Week in Devon Claybrooks. At that time, he was the Stampeders defensive co-ordinator but was expected to be a head coach in the CFL.

During the winter he was named the B.C. Lions head coach. He equally had confidence and presence but he is having a disastrous year in B.C.

During our conversation he said his goal as a coach has been to help young men become grown men. He spoke of a high school coach who turned him from a knucklehead into a man. He has an outgoing infectious personality. He said he does not want to be a grim coach, for a team takes on the personality of their head coach. The trials of this season will not faze him.

Claybrooks almost died last season. He was suffering from diabetes but had not realized the problem. He told his mom he was fine on the phone but she did not believe him. She got someone to check on him and they got him to the hospital. Even a day later could have been catastrophic.

Every team has leaders who may or may not get a lot of public recognition. On the Hamilton Tiger Cats receiver Luke Tasker is one of their leaders.

After the Hamilton loss in Saskatchewan he talked positively and enthusiastically of backup, now starting quarterback, Dane Evans, as level headed and doing a great job.

Evans said he loved Luke so much and that he was the definition of a pro.

With regard to the Roughriders receive, Shaq Evans, he had a great game against the Tiger Cats. Most impressive he was matched up against Delvin Breaux, acknowledged as being one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Evans said Breaux is a physical corner. On film study he said that he noted that getting get Breaux moving would give him some advantage as Breaux would play a little softer. He used that advantage in getting to the sidelines.

After the Riders home opening win against the Argos their head coach, Corey Chamblin, said they were neither playing nor coaching well enough to win. Half way through the season little has changed with Toronto having won but one game.

When he was Rider head coach Chamblin was a master of telling little while talking about games. Current head coach Craig Dickenson answers questions and does not get defensive. I find it interesting to see him address reporters he knows by name. It is a rare head coach that replies to a reporter as a person.

Bill Selnes, who’s based in Melfort, has written about the Saskatchewan Roughriders since the late 1970s. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Football Reporters of Canada wing on Nov. 24, 2013.

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