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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Quarterbacks take spotlight

    The Arizona football spring game was between two teams, but all the focus was on two individuals: quarterbacks Matt Scott and Nick Foles.

    With each leading his separate team’s offense, another point of interest was added to the duel between the White and Blue squads on Saturday as the two signal callers are competing for the starting job come fall.

    Both had their moments as each led his team to fourth-quarter, lead-changing touchdowns, but in the end it was Scott who walked away with the 23-21 win for the White team.

    “”I thought our quarterbacks did some really nice things (Saturday),”” said UA head coach Mike Stoops. “”They have some improvement they need to make, but we’ll evaluate it and see where we’re at.

    “”Nick (Foles) and Matt (Scott) are both competing well and we’re not in too much of a hurry to name a starter at this point,”” Stoops added.

    Overall, both quarterbacks finished with similar statistics, as both recorded two touchdown passes and completion percentages higher than 50 percent. However, Scott appeared to come away with the slight edge as he led all quarterbacks with 206 yards in the air along with 17 rushing yards.

    Scott also showed off his leadership skills, as he got his sideline pumped up on numerous occasions and called for team huddles during breaks in the game.

    “”I’m trying to lead the team,”” Scott said following his squad’s victory. “”You’ve got to do things that leaders do – get guys in and out of the huddle quick, keep the tempo up, pick guys up when they need to be picked up and yell at them when you need to yell at ’em and I’m trying to do that.””

    Scott showed leadership on the field on as well after Foles hit wide receiver Juron Criner on a screen pass he took 70 yards for a touchdown, giving the Blue team a late lead.

    With two minutes remaining, Scott led the White team onto the field, 70 yards from the go-ahead score. But the cool-headed sophomore quickly connected with wide receiver Delashaun Dean – a common target for Scott throughout the day – for a 49-yard pass that moved the White team deep into Blue territory.

    Three plays later, Scott found receiver Terrell Turner in the corner of the end zone from five yards out with less than 40 seconds remaining. The score gave the White team the two-point victory as the Arizona coaches called the game before the extra-point attempt.

    Despite Scott’s strong performance on Saturday, however, the Wildcats’ coaching staff remained adamant that the competition for the starting role is far from over.

    “”There’s not much separation between (Scott’s and Foles’) arms and there’s really not that much separation between them all around,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”I think they’ve both been doing a good job of becoming leaders and earning their teammates’ respect.

    “”They’re both good guys and help each other out,”” he added. “”There isn’t any sort of quarterback controversy or anything like that.””

    Despite a plethora of aerials, Saturday’s contest showed an absence of a significant running game. Only 102 net yards on the ground were recorded between the two teams, with both rushing touchdowns coming from just one yard out.

    Neither of last season’s most prominent backs – Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin – reached the end zone, and Grigsby collected only three total yards. Antolin led all rushers with 36 on six carries.

    While the offensive air attack stole the show Saturday, defensively Arizona had several highlights as well.

    In addition to both sides allowing only two scores throughout the first half, the two defensive units combined to record seven total sacks and one interception.

    Linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka led all defensive players with 12 tackles and a sack for the White team at a position Stoops said is one in which Arizona needs to improve.

    But overall, the Wildcats felt pleased with the defensive effort, despite allowing scores by each team in the game’s final minutes.

    “”We had a couple of brain farts in the secondary in certain plays on both sides,”” said senior safety Cam Nelson. “”I think we got about a B, a B minus (grade for the spring game). I think the linebacker play was very good overall.

    “”Vuna and (Xavier) Kelley picked up a lot of slack as well as (defensive backs) Corey Hall and (Orlando) Vargas and (defensive end Ron Jackson), two young guys who really don’t know the system got in and did a real good job.””

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