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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Foles to start at Oregon State

Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona’s offense continues to be the biggest story, and problem, of this young 2009 season and it took another wild turn on Monday when head coach Mike Stoops announced that sophomore quarterback Nick Foles would get his first career start this Saturday at Oregon State.

“”We’re going to see if we can get a little different flow to our offense and see where that takes us,”” Stoops said in his weekly press conference. “”We want to give Nick an opportunity to start and see what he does with that, and see if we can settle down and make some plays offensively.””

Stoops maintained that the move was not a demotion of Matt Scott, but as the press conference progressed, it appeared that Stoops and the rest of the coaching staff were getting desperate to mix things up on offense.

“”The nucleus of our passing offense has been disrupted, so finding continuity within our offense is a pretty big concern,”” Stoops said. “”Our production needs to improve, we’ve relied heavily on the run game but we knew as the season goes on that you have to have balance within your offense and that’s somewhere that we’ve been hurt.””

With the Iowa Hawkeyes loading the box to stop the run and daring Arizona to beat them through the air, the Wildcats fell flat on their face completing just 10-of-25 passes this past Saturday. Similarly through the first two games of the season, Arizona failed to convert any big passing plays and struggled finding any rhythm going downfield.

“”Lack of making big plays is something, offensively, that we’re struggling with,”” Stoops said. “”Offensively, we need to find some more consistency backing up some plays with some other plays.

“”We have the right play called, we don’t get the ball to the right guy. There’s just a lot of fundamental errors that need to be corrected,”” Stoops added.

Foles likely won’t be the immediate savior to the offense that some would expect, but that isn’t necessarily his fault. The quarterback position is very demanding, and Stoops said he has faith the team will find an answer between the two sophomore quarterbacks.

“”I think both (quarterbacks) have unlimited ability, now finding some consistency in their ability to play and do some things on the field on Saturday is a great challenge for all young quarterbacks,”” Stoops said. “”When you have to do something (on the field) that’s a whole ‘nother deal. When you have to go out there and distribute the football down the field, read this, read that, it’s a lot. It takes maturity and experience to do that.””

Gronkowski impact

Losing any player for the entire season is a tough pill to swallow, but losing the best player on the team is like trying to swallow 100 pills at once.

That’s how Stoops and Co. must have felt on Saturday when it was determined that junior tight end Rob Gronkowski will have to undergo season-ending back surgery.

“”We’re all disappointed,”” Stoops said of losing Gronkowski for the year. “”Obviously anytime you lose one of your best players, one of the best players in the country, it’s going to be a little bit disruptive in your continuity offensively just because of how we built this offense.””

Not having UA’s career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for a tight end has made life extremely difficult for Arizona, especially considering the problems in the passing game.

“”Our offense was built around Robbie at one particular point, but we’ve had to redirect our focus and that’s what’s been difficult for us,”” Stoops said. “”We built this offense around Robbie for two years and to lose him in camp has been disruptive and now we have to find a new identity, and with a new quarterback that’s been difficult to do.””

So far this season, the Wildcats have done several things to patch the holes left by Gronkowski. Junior tight end A.J. Simmons has filled in admirably, but his inability to run block as well as Gronkowski did has forced Arizona to spell him with H-back Chris Gronkowski.

Stoops also said Monday that 6-foot-4 freshman wide receiver Terrence Miller will likely be removed from his redshirt to add size to the receiving corp.

“”Our job is to find what we can do now, find ways to move the football and be creative,”” Stoops said. “”That’s our big challenge right now.””

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