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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Who’s the man?

On paper, it was a good day.

The Arizona offense piled up 559 total yards on its way to scoring 34 points, yet nobody left Arizona Stadium with any real confidence in the unit. In fact, I’m not so sure anybody actually felt good about it.

If Saturday’s 34-17 win over Northern Arizona left people thinking anything, it was a question — a big question.

Where is Arizona’s passing game?

“”We probably should have been better,”” head coach Mike Stoops said of his team’s passing attack.

The aerial attack has been an enigma thus far.

First there was the quarterback competition between sophomores Matt Scott and Nick Foles. It was long and drawn out, and when Scott finally emerged as the starter, it seemed as if it just sort of worked out that way, rather than Scott actually winning the job.

Then there was the first game against Central Michigan University.

Coaches said that both quarterbacks would play, but Scott took 100 percent of the snaps. It really wasn’t clear why Scott was on the field for every offensive play — he didn’t do anything spectacular, and he certainly didn’t warrant taking every snap after coaches insisted both he and Foles would play.

Most recently, there was Saturday’s subpar performance against NAU.

Scott started and was OK, going 14-for-20 for 150 yards and a touchdown, but the number of plays he left on the field was alarming. He missed a wide-open receiver, sophomore David Douglas, on a flag route that surely would have resulted in a touchdown. Then on the next play, Scott sailed a ball well over the head of sophomore David Roberts on a seam route.

When Scott is in the game, Arizona’s passing offense consists mostly of timing patterns and pre-snap reads. The coaches say they’re keeping the offense simple for him because he’s young and inexperienced, but is that really the reason?

When Foles finally made his debut in the third quarter, he fired the ball 50 yards down field on a post to junior wide receiver Juron Criner, and later in the game, threw a beautiful deep-out route to senior receiver Terrell Turner — and those throws came from a player less experienced than Scott.

What appeared to be a troubling quarterback issue after two complete games took an even worse turn after the game, when Stoops said the wide receivers are just as responsible for an inept passing attack.

“”We need to make some more plays with our receiving core to be able to throw the ball vertically,”” Stoops said. “”We probably should’ve had 23 or 24 completions and a lot more yards.””

Scott even agreed after the game, saying that he and the receivers need to watch the game tape and fix the problems between them.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, this is scary. As of right now, Arizona has a one-dimensional offense.

They’ve proudly ridden on the shoulders of running back Nic Grigsby through their first two games, and it’s been a fun ride. But Central Michigan’s defense is not Iowa’s defense, and Northern Arizona’s defense is not Oregon State’s defense.

If Stoops and offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes really believe that Scott is the starter and the right guy for the job, then they need to make it that way. Don’t say that Foles deserves to play and give him a few sympathy snaps; make him the backup.

Quarterback isn’t like wide receiver — you cant rotate in the middle of a game and expect any kind of offensive continuity. Could it be that the wide receivers aren’t finishing plays because they aren’t used to the man delivering the ball to them? Stick with Scott through thick and thin until he wins the job or loses the job.

If they don’t actually feel like Scott is the starter, then open up the competition again. Give Foles an entire half. Give Foles a start. Heck, why not just alternate every series until somebody actually takes control?

Whatever the decision is, it needs to be made soon.

— Tim Kosch is journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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