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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Iowa yet to see the real Foles

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Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats take on The Citadel Bulldogs Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson Ariz. The Wildcats rolled the Bulldogs 52-6 to earn their second win of the season.

The difference between the Arizona offense that struggled at Iowa in 2009 and the No. 24 Wildcats that welcome the No. 9 Hawkeyes this Saturday night is simple – junior quarterback Nick Foles.

Last season, Iowa faced a sophomore playing in only his third collegiate game in a hostile Iowa City, Iowa, environment, and for only 15 minutes at that.

But 22 touchdowns, 3,420 passing yards and 364 days later, Iowa will be dealing with a fine-tuned offense featuring a legitimate leader under center.

“”We came into this year with a little bit more of an identity with knowing Nick is going to be the starter,”” said receiver and Foles’ roommate and close friend David Douglas.

“”You can just definitely tell he’s got more confidence. All the guys are more behind him,”” Douglas added. “”He’s just really stepped into a leadership role. He’s got all the guys, all of us playing for him.””

On Sept. 19, 2009, the Hawkeyes took on an Arizona team that started a running quarterback – Matt Scott – and Kirk Ferentz’s squad knew little about his 6-foot-5, 245-pound backup.

Iowa only saw Foles for one quarter – during which he went 6-for-11 for 55 yards and a touchdown – but the Hawkeyes are now aware of the type of quarterback he’s become.

“”He gets it out and spreads it around nicely …”” Ferentz said in a teleconference call with the Tucson media. “”… Looks like he’s really comfortable and confident in the scheme. So that’s the most important thing.””

Comfort and confidence have been the key to Foles’ maturation. He’s a completely different player than the sophomore who trotted onto the field a year ago. He’s better physically, mechanically and most important, mentally.

“”He always kind of had a nice aura about him, but now it’s backed up with a lot of game experience,”” said outside receivers coach David Nichol. “”So just confidence and knowledge of our system and a quarterback can’t put a price tag on that.””

This time around when Iowa and Arizona collide, there’s no doubt as to which arm will lead his team down the field. Foles has 22 more games under his belt, including a trip to the Holiday Bowl. He’s more experienced, smarter and more comfortable.

“”(I’ve) just matured as a quarterback, just on the field, leadership, fundamentals, everything,”” Foles said.

“”Reading coverages, understanding why I’m throwing here and there,”” he continued, “”that’s what happens when you have time.””

Foles always had the size and potential to develop into a top-notch college quarterback, but after some seasoning, work with new quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo and newly appointed leadership, the junior has becomethe real deal — a player that the Hawkeyes truly haven’t seen yet.

“”I definitely think we got some new stuff to show them, got some better timing, a faster pace,”” said receiver Juron Criner. “”I feel like we definitely got something new to bring to the table this year.””

That “”something new”” comes in the form of a much more matured and confident Foles. However, the Austin, Texas, native will have his hands full against what he called, “”one of the best d-lines in the country.””

Although he racked up 574 yards and three touchdowns through two games, completing 83.3 percent of his passes with a quarterback rating of 174.77, it’s all but guaranteed those numbers won’t continue against Iowa.

Despite Iowa’s stout defense, there’s no question Foles will be prepared come Saturday night.

“”He’s one of the hardest workers you’ll meet,”” Douglas said, “”and he’s preparing and doing all the right things.””

Nick Foles stats:

2009 Iowa game: 6-for-11, 55 passing yards, TD

2009 stats after Iowa game: 2,378 passing yards, 17 TD, 8 INTs

2010 stats: 574 passing yards, 3 TDs, INT, 83.3 completion percentage, 174.77 quarterback rating

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