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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Foles not quite ready for primetime

Nick+Foles
Nick Foles

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – No player felt more comfortable heading into the 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl than Nick Foles.

The Austin-native had all of the ingredients for a monster game that would show the nation – and the nine NFL scouts sitting in the press box — why he’s one of the best quarterbacks of the 2011 class.

Foles grew up an hour and a half away from San Antonio, and spent Christmas with his family while most Wildcats were hundreds of miles away from home.

He knew the ins and outs of the Alamodome, having played in it four times prior to Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma State.

It was supposed to be a storybook homecoming for Foles, and he was expected to thrive against a team that ranked 115th in the nation against the pass.

Foles said this was the bowl game he wanted – and it was his for the taking.

But when the bright lights illuminated and it was all eyes on Foles, the junior quarterback played one of the worst games of his career – going 32-for-50 for 280 yards, and three interceptions, while taking five sacks in Arizona’s 36-10 loss.

“”We just made too many mistakes, I made too many mistakes, we got too far behind and that’s a tough situation to be in,”” Foles said on the field right after the game. “”It’s upsetting. You want to play better, you want to win the game but sometimes it doesn’t turn out that way.””

With endless friends and family members in the stands and an ESPN audience, Foles never showcased the arm Wildcats fans saw for the majority of the season.

There were no game-winning drives like the two he manufactured against Iowa and California. There were no deep touchdown connections with Juron Criner and no quick slants to David Douglas for a score.

This wasn’t the same Nick Foles that went over 400 yards passing with ease. He made bad reads, bad throws and careless decisions at times – like stepping out of bounds four yards behind the line of scrimmage when he could have thrown it away, or tossing a deep ball into double coverage that had “”INT”” written all over it.

Foles hadn’t thrown more than one interception all season long, and only threw three once in his Arizona career when he did so against UCLA on Oct. 24, 2009.

But he faced constant pressure from the Cowboys and never got into a rhythm on Wedesday night. And none of his interceptions were tipped balls that could have been pinned on the receiver.

“”It was just a couple times the ball just didn’t come out right,”” Foles said. “”I almost felt, I don’t know it just didn’t come out right. I don’t know how else to explain it.””

His first misstep was a game-changer, as he rifled a ball from the left hash to the right sideline. Foles couldn’t get enough zip on the ball as safety Markelle Martin jumped the route and took the interception to the house for a 62-yard touchdown, giving the Cowboys a 23-7 lead.

Foles threw another interception on Arizona’s very next drive, as he lobbed a ball into double-coverage on 3rd and 11 from OSU’s 30-yard-line. The last interception came with the game virtually out of reach, but may have been his worst as he had Criner wide open streaking down the field but simply under-threw him.

Foles was Arizona’s savior all season long, and everything was in place for a perfect homecoming in his old stomping grounds. But for seemingly the first time all year, Foles faltered.

“”It was on me. Those balls just weren’t good throws. One was too low, one was too late,”” Foles said.

Statistically, it wasn’t as bad as his Holiday Bowl performance – 6-for-20, 28 yards and an interception – but the expectations were greater.

He wasn’t the constant that the Wildcats could pencil in for 300 yards and two or three touchdowns. He was, for once, a big reason for Arizona’s loss.

He handled the performance with class, never blaming his offensive line, but rather taking the burden himself and promising changes in the future.

But much like the Holiday Bowl, he’ll have to live with those three interceptions hanging over his head until the Wildcats take the field again in about eight months.

“”I didn’t play near as well as I wanted to,”” Foles said. “”The outcome wasn’t what we wanted.””

 

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