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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Foles, Luck friendship on hold

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nick Foles versus Andrew Luck. The NCAA’s leading passer against the projected No. 1 draft pick.

Two close friends and their respective teams collide this Saturday as No. 6 Stanford meets Foles’ Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on ESPN at 7:45 p.m.

“Andrew and I are tight,” said Foles, who spent the summer with Luck at the Manning Passing Academy. “I think fundamentally he’s more polished than I am. But when we hit the field, none of that matters and we both want to win.”

Foles and Arizona’s coaches have repeatedly told the media not to buy into a Foles-against-Luck matchup.

“It’s not him versus Andrew,” said quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo.
Added head coach Mike Stoops: “I don’t think (Foles) really even thinks about who’s across from him.”

Foles and Luck will never be on the field at that same time. All the two touted quarterbacks can control is making their reads and delivering the ball in the right spots.

But in reality, each quarterback is the face of his respective squad, and a big game for Foles would remind NFL scouts why he’s leading the country in completions, completion percentage and passing yards through two games.

If the 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback outplays his counterpart on national television in a competitive game, it’ll be safe to talk about him with the nation’s elite — a status he has yet to acquire despite throwing for 810 yards, completing 71 balls and 76.3 percent of his passes so far this season.

“I said the other day I think he’s extremely underrated,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said during a Pac-12 conference call. “You look at his efficiency and the numbers he’s put up in the last few years, his name never gets brought up when they take about some of the best quarterbacks in the nation.

“But when you talk about the numbers, he’s up there, he’s a dangerous guy that reads coverages well,” Shaw continued. “He throws the ball accurately and he’s got a quick release. I don’t know what else you could be looking for in a quarterback.”

Between Foles’ hot start to 2011 and his stellar 2010 campaign, he’s put up similar numbers to those of top arms like Luck and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden. Last season he threw for 290.1 yards per game to Luck’s 256.3.

Luck did throw for 12 more touchdowns and is, as Foles said, the more polished quarterback. But Foles has proven he deserves to be in the discussion.

“He gets kind of overshadowed,” Stoops said. “He’s throwing for 800 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions and really it’s an afterthought.”

The difference is that Luck leads one of college football’s top teams, while Foles and the Wildcats are still mired in mediocrity after three consecutive bowl appearances. Winning is everything for quarterbacks.

Last Thursday, Foles edged out Weeden throwing for 398 yards and a score, but that goes forgotten in an embarrassing defeat. So for Foles to be considered on the same level as Luck, Weeden and other top quarterbacks, the Wildcats can’t lie down against the Cardinal on Saturday.

A competitive game would go a long way for the Wildcats, as well as for Foles’ NFL draft stock and notoriety throughout the nation. But to Foles, none of that matters.

“I don’t care if I’m underrated, rated, whatever,” he said. “I just like hitting the field and playing ball. That’s really what matters.”

Foles said the two friends, who met at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., last July, will meet and greet before and after the game. But once they hit the field that friendship goes by the wayside, as Luck attempts to keep Stanford in the top 10 and Foles aims to shock the Cardinal to open up Pac-12 play.

“Even if it takes me throwing two yards, winning the game is the most important thing,” Foles said. “The rest of that stuff, that will happen later down the road. It’s fun going against a team like Stanford, No. 6 in the nation. Andrew’s a great player, he’s a big part of that.

“If we get the win that’s the only thing that matters.”

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