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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Battle for QB will continue into year

Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona football team has yet to announce a starting quarterback, but that doesn’t bother head coach Mike Stoops.

During Monday’s weekly press conference, Stoops said the coaching staff finished evaluating Saturday night’s scrimmage, but he isn’t ready to say who will lead the offense for the Wildcats’ first game of the year when they play Central Michigan on Sept. 5 at Arizona Stadium.

In Saturday night’s scrimmage, Stoops said redshirt sophomore Nick Foles played the best he has in his time at the UA. Despite getting more reps with the first-team players in recent weeks, Matt Scott hasn’t yet supplanted himself as the No. 1 option at quarterback.

But he might not have to.

“”We’d be comfortable in saying that it’s very likely that we could see both quarterbacks in (the first game),”” Stoops said. “”When we decide on a starter we’ll let you know, but we’re still kind of evaluating the process. I guess what that tells you is that no one has separated themselves too far from the other.

“”Each quarterback does some things better than the other, but ultimately we’re going to go with our feeling of who gives us the best opportunity to move the football and to score points against Central Michigan,”” he added. “”The ultimate decision is what’s best for our football team.””

Stoops said he wants to be fair in picking a starter and the best way to do that would be taking a look at each player in game action to get a better feel for how they will run the UA’s offense. And with both Scott and Foles playing solidly throughout the summer and fall, the position battle might not be over even after a starter is named.

“”I think if you work hard enough and you earn the right to play then I believe that you deserve an opportunity. It’s no different than any other position,”” Stoops said. “”I believe that. Kids earn the right to play and there’s things that I’ve seen in both players to earn that right.””

Depth at O-line, linebacker a pleasant surprise

The Wildcats’ offensive line took a hit when Eben Britton decided to forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. However, this year’s group aims to make up for his loss in a big way.


A 6-foot-5, 320-pound way.


That’s where Mike Diaz comes into play.


Originally a guard, Diaz is making the switch to the outside of the line to protect the UA quarterbacks’ blind side. His move has allowed other players to make their way into the starting lineup.


Stoops said he was pleased with the versatility of Phillip Garcia. The 6-foot-7, 325-pounder has played well at both left guard and left tackle throughout the summer and fall. Junior Conan Amituanai has gotten reps at left guard due to Diaz’s move and sophomore Vaughn Dotsy is progressing well at the right guard spot, Stoops said.


The linebacker depth was also a question entering summer workouts, but Stoops said he expects them to be one of the better units on the team despite losing last year’s defensive leader, Ronnie Palmer.


Senior Sterling Lewis can play all three linebacker spots, Stoops said, and will likely start on the strong side. Senior Vuna Tuihalamaka is expected to start at middle linebacker and senior Xavier Kelley will start on the weak side.


But even if any of those players go down with an injury, Stoops said there are plenty of replacement options.


Junior college transfer C.J. Parish and freshmen Jake Fischer, R.J. Young, Cordarius Golston and Trevor Erno could be the linebackers of the future after the three seniors make way, but some have further to go than others.


“”C.J. Parish still has a ways to go, but Jake (Fisher) and R.J. Young have done a good job,”” Stoops said. “”Trevor (Erno) and Golston and Fisher are three prototypical linebackers. … I feel like we hit three home runs with those guys. I think they can all be special players,”” adding that Erno and Golston are likely to redshirt this season.

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