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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Scott doesn’t dazzle

Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Football vs. Central Michigan Saturday September 5, 2009. Final score arizona 19, Central Michican 6

The Arizona football program has a lot to be proud of after Saturday’s 19-6 win against Central Michigan University. The Wildcats beat a formidable opponent with a first-time quarterback in Matt Scott and the defense shut down a potent Chippewa offense. Let’s take a look at some of the overriding themes from the game.

Matt Scott

The sophomore went through more ups and downs than the team would like to see from its starting quarterback, but that’s to be expected in his first start. While Scott wasn’t necessarily good, he certainly wasn’t bad.

“”Matt played pretty well,”” said Arizona head coach Mike Stoops. “”You saw some youthful mistakes, but the game speed was so different and that’s where I think he rushed some throws. He’ll get used to that, all players have to get used to game situations.””

Scott finished the game 19-for-30 for 202 yards and showed his athleticism, rushing for 83 yards on nine carries. Arizona coaches curbed the playbook to help Scott feel more comfortable, favoring screens and short timing routes over deep drop back passes. The numbers look good, but considering how many potential big plays he left on the field, they are merely a shell of what they could have been.

Signs that Scott is still raw were evident throughout the game. He missed a wide-open William “”Bug”” Wright on a seam route in the end zone during the first quarter, and then again on a flag route in the third quarter.

“”I was trying to rush my throws,”” Scott said after the game. “”On a couple (of plays) I’d see an open receiver and my eyes lit up, and I think, ‘I need to get the ball to this guy,’ and I’d try to rush it, but I can’t do that.””

Scott struggled mightily rolling to his left and throwing across his body, badly short-hopping a pass to a wide-open Delashaun Dean. Even rolling to the right — especially for a right-handed QB as mobile as Scott — proved to be a challenge when he missed H-back Chris Gronkowski on an out pattern that could have turned into a huge gain.

“”I put that on nerves,”” said senior receiver Terrell Turner about Scott missing open receivers. “”It was his first game, lights were on, and people were anxious to see what he was going to do.””

Grigsby shoulders the load

He might not have a household name like Jahvid Best from California or Jacquizz Rodgers from Oregon State University, but Arizona’s starting running back Nic Grigsby is slowly but surely becoming one of the best running backs in the conference.

“”Nic is a very talented, very underrated player,”” Stoops said after Saturday night’s win. “”I thought he ran the ball effectively.””

In fact, the Wildcats leaned on Grigsby early and often during the contest against the Chippewas, and that was the game plan going into a game where Arizona would debut a new starting quarterback. Grigsby finished the game with 118 yards on 23 carries and scored the Wildcats’ lone touchdown.

“”We expected to come out running the ball, but we didn’t expect for them to jump out on defense like that,”” Grigsby said. “”We moved the ball really well, we just have to finish drives.””

That lack of finishing is something that will motivate Grigsby during his preparation for the game against Northern Arizona University this weekend. His increased knowledge of the game and his realization of necessary in-game adjustments is making him a better player than he was last year.

“”I played hard and I ran hard, but there were times during the game where instead of me seeing a hole and just hitting it, I was just hitting it instead of seeing it,”” Grigsby said after Saturday’s game. “”But as the game moved on I calmed down and got back to myself.””

Grigsby, a junior, is on the depth chart with two other talented running backs who have pushed for more carries, but Grigsby has separated himself and clearly emerged as the No. 1 running back. Rather than complain about losing some carries to sophomore Keola Antolin and redshirt freshman Greg Nwoko. Grigsby embraces it.

“”It’s always nice having somebody back there to fill you in and to get some water in you and come back in fresh,”” Grigsby said.

When he isn’t catching his breath and getting his legs back under him on the sideline, Grigsby is doing everything he can to make plays and help an offense that is breaking in a new quarterback.

“”There’s always that play where I’ve got to try to make ground because our offense really came up short,”” he said after the game. “”I have to try even harder to break (a run for a big gain).””


Think tight end Rob Gronkowski wasn’t missed despite the win? Think again. Arizona struggled mightily in the red zone, mostly because Gronkowski — their top target inside the 20-yard line — was out. His absence was also felt in the running game, as H-back/fullback Chris Gronkowski was forced to play the wing next to backup tight end A.J. Simmons to assist him with his run blocking … Freshman linebacker Jake Fischer didn’t get a chance to contribute much defensively, but his presence was felt on special teams on the first kick-off of the game when he blew up his blocker en route to making a tackle … The defense was so dominant that they even had the biggest role in CMU’s lone scoring drive — Ricky Elmore’s roughing-the-passer penalty and cornerback Devin Ross’ pass-interference penalty gave the Chippewa’s 30 free yards.

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