The Arizona Wildcats begin building for the 2009 football season with one big question: Who’s going to play quarterback?
UA has a runner in Matt Scott, a thrower in Nick Foles, and a redshirt sophomore in Bryson Beirne who knows the offense and commands respect.
“There’s not a lack of talent at our quarterback position,” said sixth-year coach Mike Stoops, whose Wildcats begin spring workouts Wednesday.
If only the Wildcats could combine the three quarterbacks into one – utilizing the skills of each.
That would make for a smoother transition after losing senior Willie Tuitama, the holder of several school career and single-season passing records, who hopes to get drafted in April by an NFL team.
Tuitama led the Wildcats to an 8-5 finish last season, including a 31-21 victory over BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.
UA gets 15 NCAA-allotted practices, including the annual Spring Game on April 4 at Arizona Stadium.
Scott and Foles are expected to fight for the starting job during spring workouts.
“Both of these guys have unlimited amount of potential to run our football team,” Stoops said about Scott and Foles. “It will be interesting to see how it works its way out.
“I like their attitudes and their ability to make plays and extend plays on their feet. That position bodes well for the future.”
Scott, the backup a year ago, has built a reputation for being a runner only, although he showed off a strong arm during early workouts last season.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore completed 7 of 11 passes for 84 yards and one touchdown. He mostly was asked to run when playing six games. He was 6 for 10 in the season opener against Idaho.
His speed has not been seen at that position here since Keith Smith shared duty with Ortege Jenkins during the late 1990s.
Scott rushed 23 times for 188 yards and a pair of TDs when inserted – usually late in games.
Foles sat out last year after transferring from Michigan State. The sophomore is more of a pure spread-like quarterback with a strong arm and a tad more mobility than Tuitama, but not nearly the speed of Scott.
“He is a big-time thrower. He has a great passion for what he is doing,” Stoops said. “He shows all the promise of a very talented quarterback.”
Foles, at 6-5, 240, completed 5 of 8 passes for 57 yards as a freshman at Michigan State in 2007. He grew up running a spread offense at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas.
He threw for 2,350 yards during his junior season with 22 touchdowns. A torn labrum in his throwing shoulder hampered his senior campaign.
“He’s a very strong kid. I’m surprised he didn’t stay at Michigan State. He’s their type of a kid,” Stoops said. “We feel good, based on the things we’ve seen from him. Things are going to change as we move forward through competition – how he reacts. We have not seen him under that kind of fire, but everything on paper checks out.”
UA KEY DATES
Spring football: 15 workouts – March 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 23 and 30, and April 1, 3, 6 and 8 – are likely closed to the public. Saturday scrimmages at Arizona Stadium on March 28 and April 4 are open to the public, with times to be announced.
2009 schedule: 12 games – Sept. 5 Central Michigan; Sept. 12 NAU; Sept. 19 at Iowa; Sept. 26 at Oregon State; Oct. 10 at Washington; Oct. 17 Stanford; Oct. 24 UCLA; Nov. 7 Washington State; Nov. 14 at California; Nov. 21 Oregon; Nov. 28 at ASU; and Dec. 5 at USC.