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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


No controversy with UA quarterbacks

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

On the Arizona football team’s pregame depth chart for its tilt against Central Michigan during Saturday night’s season opener at Arizona Stadium, it officially listed Matt Scott OR Nick Foles as the Wildcats’ starter.

Once the game kicked off, it was obvious Scott was Arizona’s No. 1 guy, especially considering Foles wasn’t on the field for a single snap against the Chippewas. But that wasn’t the way Arizona coaches envisioned the game playing out.

“”I think the way the game played out Saturday, we felt like we were trying to get into a rhythm offensively and never really did. I think we felt like we needed to get Matt more reps to be able to get into that rhythm and let him get settled down a little bit,”” said UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”We knew he was capable of playing better than he did in the first half, and when you’re trying to build confidence in your quarterback you hate to have a quick trigger finger and pull a guy out and put somebody else in.””

Dykes said they let the two signal callers know of their intentions about 10 days before the Sept. 5 game against Central Michigan. And even though Scott was labeled as the first option, that didn’t alter either player’s demeanor.

Scott didn’t think it was his job and Foles knew he still had a shot to become the starting quarterback, Dykes said. Each player continued to work hard after the unofficial announcement, and that proved that each player is capable of leading and winning games.

“”You can’t take things lightly. Even though I got the (starting) spot I’ve still got to work hard,”” Scott said after a Monday evening practice. “”Nick Foles is a great quarterback, he’s right behind me and he can come up and take the spot any day. I can’t take anything for granted, you’ve just got to go out and work as hard as you can everyday.””

And the Wildcats coaching staff took notice the quarterback’s poise as well.

“”The last thing you ever want to do to a player is tell him something and not do it, but the great thing about Nick and the great thing about Matt is that both guys have been fabulous through this,”” Dykes said. “”Nick told me he didn’t care (that he didn’t play), all he cared about is that we won the football game and that shows you a lot about his character and a lot about why we feel comfortable with him leading this football team.

“”The fact that both of those guys have handled the situation as well as they have I think speaks volumes about their character,”” Dykes added, “”and it really speaks a lot about our team and our character on the team.””

And despite Dykes promising that Foles would play against the Chippewas, Dykes had no doubt that both Scott and Foles would take snaps against NAU this coming weekend.

“”I think they’ll both play this week. I don’t know exactly what the plan is going to be quite yet … but I feel confident in both of them,”” Dykes said. “”I wish we would have played Nick (against Central Michigan), but I think given the set of circumstances I think we were wise, probably, doing what we did (against Central Michigan).””

Defensive domination

After the way Central Michigan and highly-acclaimed senior quarterback Dan LeFevour performed offensively on Saturday, a casual college football fan would call the hype “”overblown.”” Don’t buy into that belief: the Chippewa offense is good.

Arizona’s defense was just better.

“”Defensively we played as well as we could,”” UA head coach Mike Stoops said after the game. “”Our position on the football was excellent, I thought was played fast, and that disrupted (Central Michigan).””

The success on Saturday started up front with the defensive line. Junior bookends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed led a defensive front that put pressure on LeFevour all night and never allowed him – or the Central Michigan offense as a whole – to get into a rhythm.

With the defensive line dominating, the rest of the defense fell into line. The linebackers were able to run wild thanks to CMU’s need to double-team Arizona defensive linemen. No player had a better game statistically than senior middle linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka, who had 10 tackles and an interception.

“”You could see his ability to cover ground inside,”” Stoops said of Tuihalamaka. “”Defensively we were pretty much on point most of the night, and I thought our speed and ability to close on the football and recover was very good.””

The thing that stood out most was the speed that the defense played with. The Wildcats closed on almost all gaps the offense tried to create, and they succeeded in getting as many players to the ball as possible.

The linebackers and secondary have been praised for their speed since the spring, but it was the defensive line that showed how much faster they’d gotten since last season. Both Reed and Elmore were quick off the ball and mixed speed moves into their already polished power moves.

“”I thought our speed and our ability to cover was very, very good against a team that has had great success moving the football,”” Stoops said during a Monday press conference. “”… We really just kind of covered the field really well and that was exciting. Our ability to hit and be in position was really excellent. Defensively I thought our guys did a really, really good job.””


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