Arizona Wildcats Football: Life Without Nick Foles, Will Matt Scott Get It Done?
The Arizona Wildcats have lost their offensive savior in Nick “Sunshine” Foles, and for the time being, will have to find a way to produce points without him.
Junior Matt Scott will be filling in for the injured Foles, which is good and bad news for Wildcat fans.
Scott does have starter experience, lining up under center for the first three games of the 2009 season, only to have that job revoked by fallen Foles. Scott also brings another set of skills to the table in his ability to scramble.
However, part of the reason he was pulled was because of the inconsistent play at offense. Either way, there could be worse candidates to fill in for the job.
Nobody is really sure how long Foles will be out. Arizona head coach Mike Stoops, when asked the question, didn’t give any time frame, just saying the quarterback will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. Former USC quarterback and current New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had a similar injury in 2008 in which he only missed three weeks.
So if Foles misses the same amount of time as Sanchez, that means he will miss games against Washington, UCLA and Stanford.
Can Scott and the rest of the team pick up their play to keep their Rose Bowl hopes alive?
Game vs. Washington
For some reason, Arizona’s defense has never been able to contain rushing quarterbacks. The only time in recent memory they did was in 2008 when Dennis Dixon went for a cut up-field and jarred his own knee—ending up having to leave the game and not returning.
Against Oregon State two weeks ago, Ryan Katz, who isn’t especially known for his legs, picked up key third down conversions and large chunks of yards by way of scrambling on the Wildcat defense.
Consider Washington quarterback Jake Locker public enemy No. 1 on Saturday.
Look for Locker, who is coming off his best game of the season last week where he threw for five touchdowns in a double overtime win against Oregon State. This kid can flat out put up yards through the air or on the ground, which is why so many NFL scouts have him at the No.1 spot for next year’s draft.
Prediction: Locker throws for two touchdowns and runs for one, picking up key third downs with his feet. Without Foles, Arizona’s offense has a rough start. They stick with the running game as Antolin takes one in for a score, but it takes too long for Arizona to get moving. Scott adds one touchdown through the air and also throws one interception, but nagging injuries in the receiver core prevent an explosive passing game.
Washington beats Arizona: 24-17
Game vs. UCLA
On Thursday night, UCLA was routed in Eugene giving up almost 600 yards of offense and letting Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas throw for a career high 308 yards. The Bruins are going to be determined to bounce back against the Cats.
The last away game Matt Scott started was against Iowa in 2009, the same game where Foles took the reins at the end of the game. The Washington game will knock the butterflies out of Scott and will visit UCLA level-headed.
The Wildcats know what is at stake, with Oregon running away with the Pac-10 and seemingly the country. Second place in the Pac-10 could very well mean a Rose Bowl appearance, so the Wildcats will have to get it done against the Bruins after losing two of their last three games.
Prediction: After being crushed by Oregon, UCLA comes out swinging; however a big second half by the Cats keeps the Bruins at bay. Arizona’s defense tightens up as they force a fumble and an interception against the Pac-10’s worst offense. Scott is more comfortable accounting for two touchdowns, and the rushing game comes to life against the lack of rush defense by UCLA.
Arizona beats UCLA: 31-10
Game vs. Stanford
Andrew Luck is on a tear this season, possibly even a better NFL prospect than Jake Locker. With decent speed for a quarterback, he is mobile enough to bother the Wildcat defense. For Arizona to hang in this game, they will need to hit it big in the passing game.
If this game becomes a shootout, that means big problems for the Cats and the absence of Foles will clearly be seen. Stanford hasn’t scored under 35 points yet this season and have averaged over 40 per game.
This could be the deciding factor for the 2nd place team in the Pac-10. With Foles in the picture, this game would be under a national spotlight, but with him gone, it may be overshadowed.
Prediction: Luck makes his case for best quarterback in the Pac-10 with three touchdowns as the Arizona secondary looks as lost as they were in the Oregon State game. Scott and the Wildcat offense do what they can to keep it interesting but are unable to keep up with the way Stanford will put up points.
Stanford beats Arizona: 38-27
Rose Bowl Hopes Slipping Away
The Wildcats hopes at a Rose Bowl bid became dislocated the same time Foles’ knee did. If Foles wasn’t injured the Washington game would go completely different, with the Cats coming out on top.
The Stanford game is tricky though. Even if Foles was there, the Wildcats probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with the amazing offense of the Cardinal. The game would turn into a shootout, and the way this offense has moved the ball in pressure situations while Foles has the ball in his hands would keep the game knotted up until the end.
Scott is a good quarterback and should embrace his scrambling ability.
He has been ridiculed in the past about trying to rush too much, but the last thing he should do is abandon that part of his game. Playing a defense like Washington’s, the scrambling ability will come in handy and could possibly put Arizona on top, but the Cats will have to come out shooting.
All the Cats can hope for against Stanford is that Foles makes a speedy recovery and is able to lead the Wildcats to a victory in Palo Alto to keep their Rose Bowl hopes alive.