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UA football: Who should start at quarterback?

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Scott: Legs bring new dimension

At some point in this competition, the deciding factor will not be who is more talented, but who has more control of the team. Both quarterbacks are Division I players so they should have the skills to win games. To do so, it needs to be a team effort — no position requires leadership more than the quarterback.

That is why Matt Scott should start under center against Central Michigan on Sept. 5.

Based on the way Scott carries himself at practice, he has a certain aura that screams “”starting QB.”” Players seem to gravitate to him and he looks to have more command of the offense than redshirt sophomore Nick Foles.

No, Scott does not have the arm that Foles does, but he does have some pretty fly wheels.

He has shown the ability to improvise in the pocket and extend broken plays as long as possible. With Scott in the lineup, Arizona has the ability to turn its spread offense into a spread-option offense — something that if done correctly can give opposing defensive coordinators headaches. Plus, the majority of throws in Sonny Dykes’ system are less than 10 yards, so a “”cannon”” arm isn’t a necessity.

The reality of the 2009 season is the team has a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but it is vulnerable. Despite the program’s first bowl victory in a decade last year, the Wildcats have not received the respect they thought they’d earned by defeating Brigham Young University in December — just look at their No. 8 preseason ranking in the Pacific 10 Conference. Even some of the talent they do have, like strong safety Robert Golden and wide receiver William “”Bug”” Wright, is young, raw talent that at this point has the dreaded ‘p’ word: potential.

Arizona doesn’t need a quarterback who can light up the stat sheets with 350 yards and five touchdowns every game. It needs a leader, a guy who can step up with the game on the line, take the team under his wing, get the ball to his playmakers and make a play on his own if he has to.

Right now, that guy is Matt Scott.

—Tim Kosch

Foles: More of a sure thing

While it might be Matt Scott’s “”turn”” to take over the Wildcat offense after sitting behind Willie Tuitama last season, Nick Foles would be a better fit for the starting quarterback job.

Foles, a Michigan State transfer, has a cannon for an arm and is more consistently accurate than Scott. That’s important in Sonny Dykes’ offense, one that uses lots of short passes to keep defenses guessing. If a signal caller isn’t accurate on short routes, opposing defenses won’t respect the deep threat, will clog the line of scrimmage and force the team out of its comfort zone.

Scott has the potential to be an elite playmaker in the Pac-10, but it’s just that: potential. Foles is less of a work-in-progress than Scott.

The fact that Scott can make more plays with his legs shouldn’t determine whether he gets the starting job instead of Foles. His athleticism is underrated, partly because of Scott’s explosiveness. But a quarterback’s main job is passing the football. After all, Tuitama wasn’t exactly Flash Gordon, but his consistent accuracy — especially on shorter passes — kept defenses honest.

Another factor in Foles’ favor is his confidence. Last year he was the scout team quarterback, meaning he mimicked the upcoming opponent’s quarterback to help prepare the Wildcats for their next game. It’s no easy task to switch up styles on a weekly basis.

During spring camp UA head coach Mike Stoops said he was impressed with Foles’ ability to adapt so well to so many different situations. The fact that he’s spent the months since then focusing on just one offensive scheme can only help him.

Even with Scott getting the majority of the reps with the first-team offense throughout fall camp, Foles’ confidence hasn’t been shaken. He does what he’s asked to do and gives it his best shot, day in and day out. During Saturday’s scrimmage, despite playing primarily with second- and third-team players, Foles had the more productive outing — 11-of-16 for 104 yards — and produced the only two scores of the night.

If Foles can impress the coaches and he’s not even getting the majority of the first-team reps, imagine the possibilities if he was the go-to guy.

—Brian Kimball

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