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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Passing the test

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Mike Christy
The University of Arizona football team takes part in morning practice Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010, at the Rincon Vista Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats look to reach a bowl game for the third season in a row with quarterback Nick Foles at the helm. (Photograph by Mike Christy)

Who knew that Arizona’s offense would depend on how well quarterback Nick Foles did in math class this year?

Well, quarterbacks’ coach Frank Scelfo’s version of math class, anyway.

“”I think it’s kind of like a math class,”” Scelfo said. “”If you just do the work in the class, don’t expect to get an ‘A.’ You have to actually go out there, outside the class and do homework, do research, go to the library, spend a lot of hours, and that’s what he’s done.””

With the general expectation that Foles will be the starter when the season begins, the junior has taken on a new meaning of what it means to lead the offense. Unlike last season, Foles took a majority of the reps with the first team offense in camp, something that didn’t become consistent for him until the third week of the 2009 season.

“”I’m a lot more comfortable. Last year Matt (Scott) and I were still trying to figure it out and there was a lot of pressure on us,”” said Foles on the difference between this season and last. “”This year I know the offense just as well as any of the coaches. We can all talk about everything and they trust me to audible or see something. That’s something where maturity and playing in the games, growing in the offense has helped me.””

Foles also has the advantage of having Scelfo as a coach fully dedicated to the quarterbacks. Former offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes had to split time between being Arizona’s offensive coordinator and working with the quarterbacks.

Since Scelfo joined Arizona head coach Mike Stoops’ staff in February, the former Tulane University and Louisiana Tech University offensive coordinator has been dedicated to Foles’ development and making him a consistent quarterback. Offseason film sessions and workouts have changed some of the ways Foles plays his game, including technical and fundamental issues with his footwork.

It’s a relationship centered around the minute details that seems to compliment both coach and quarterback.

“”He’s just a lot more attentive to detail. He’s very fundamental,”” Foles said of Scelfo. “”He’s been there. He’s sent quarterbacks to the league, so he knows what he’s talking about. He’s very knowledgeable. Coach Dykes is too, but coach Scelfo is more quarterback-oriented.””

Scelfo, who has seen eight quarterbacks under his care drafted to the NFL, said he’s seen Foles change the way he prepares off the field in anticipation of the upcoming season.

“”What I’ve seen him do is mature from a knowledge standpoint,”” Scelfo said. “”The film study, understanding the defense. The more you know, the more confident you are. That confidence is coming out.””

Foles won’t be subjected to one final exam. Instead, the quarterback’s performance will be judged on a level of consistency and accuracy throughout the season.

Fortunately for Foles, Scelfo believes he’s done enough to pass with flying colors.

“”(If you) don’t study for a test, how’re you going to do? You walk in the classroom, you’re nervous, right? Well, he’s been studying hard for his test, so he’s ready to go take the test, which is every Saturday,”” Scelfo said of Foles’ groundwork.

“”You grade the test, right? That’s what we’ll do, we’ll grade the test,”” Scelfo said. “”Usually, it’s graded by the scoreboard.””

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