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PRAISE FOR ARBUCKLE: 'It's not always about how they look in their shorts'

The knock on quarterback Nick Arbuckle, whose rights the Ottawa Redblacks acquired from the Calgary Stampeders a week ago, is his athleticism.

No worries, says a guy who should know — Toronto Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, who was Arbuckle’s quarterbacks coach last season in Calgary.

“We weren’t very excited about him when we first saw him,” Dinwiddie said. “His testing wasn’t what you would want, he wasn’t as fast, he wasn’t as athletic. You look at his junior college film, he was successful. His college film, he was successful. Now he’s doing it in this league. It’s not always about how they look in their shorts, it’s how they play the position. He proved he can win football games. We weren’t the most talented team at times, but I thought he gave us a chance to win every game he played in.”

Dinwiddie, who got the head coaching job in Toronto when Corey Chamblin was fired, has plenty of work ahead of him. The Argos finished with just four wins, three of them against the Redblacks, in 2019. There’s also an emphasis on winning back a fan base that leaves too many empty seats on game nights.

“We have to win the fan base over again by winning,” Dinwiddie said. “The product on the field, I think, will be what gets them sitting in the seats.”

Dinwiddie was also interviewed for the head coaching position in Ottawa before the Redblacks chose Paul LaPolice.

“I had a feeling there would be some interest, I was hearing the rumours,” said DInwiddie, who will also be the Argos’ offensive play caller. “I haven’t called plays since 2014 in Montreal when I was co-ordinator there. (Stampeders coach) Dave (Dickenson) called the plays, but he gave me a lot of co-ordinator responsibilities. That helped make me feel comfortable to make this jump.”

The Argos will have a wish list going into free agency. Task No. 1 will be finding a starting quarterback. If Arbuckle, who will become a free agent if the Redblacks don’t sign him before Feb. 11, is available, it’s likely the Argos will be in the mix.

“Free agency is going to be huge for us,” Dinwiddie said. “Offensively, defensively and special teams, we have to get better.”


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