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Six questions with Arizona assistant Frank Scelfo: On Nick Foles, Stanford’s defense and Kellen Moore for Heisman

Arizona quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo with Nick Foles in the spring. Photo by Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic

Arizona Wildcats quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo sat down the media Monday as part of the team’s weekly news conference, talking about a variety of subjects.

Scelfo is in his second season Arizona, coming to Tucson from Louisiana Tech, where he got an up-close look in WAC play at Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. That helps give some background to his comments about Moore below.

As for his quarterback, senior Nick Foles, Scelfo says that he is especially excelling this season in the intangible parts of the game. Foles has completed 71 of 93 passes (76.3 percent) for 810 yards and six touchdowns, with no interceptions, through two games.

“People really need to appreciate what they got right now, because they’re not going to have him much longer,” Scelfo said.

Here are some of the highlights from Scelfo’s sit-down with the local media:

On the differences with quarterback Nick Foles this season:
“I think he is a lot further along mentally than he was last year, studying film and kind of knowing what to do with the football. I think that’s the most progress that he has made from last year to this year. He can still throw it, and his mechanics have improved and will continue to improve, but his biggest improvement has been learning.”

On Foles moving around the pocket better this year:
“Nick has always been a very good basketball player; a lot of people don’t know that. But his movement on the basketball court hasn’t translated to the football field. That was a big emphasis for us this spring — to get that ability to move. He’s athletic. He’s not a big, heavy-footed guy back there. He can move, and he’s taken that to heart so far.”

On the necessity for smart quarterbacks and how hard it is to identify them during the recruiting process:
“You see those five-star guys who never amount to anything — whether they went into the wrong system or they just couldn’t get it done in a big-time atmosphere. Then you see guys that nobody recruited who become first-day picks when the draft rolls around.

“One of the best quarterbacks I have ever seen, ever played against, is Kellen Moore of Boise State. There’s a guy who is too small, too slow, arm strength is not good. He’s got every other aspect about him, though, and he knows how to win a game. That guy there is remarkable. I would vote for him for the Heisman because I think he does more with a ballclub than anybody I have ever seen.”

On the difficulty Foles will have making the transition after the season from a spread quarterback to a pro-style QB:
“I don’t think there is a difficult transition any more. You look at every NFL team, all of them have the shotgun in their package. (Peyton) Manning, for the most part, is probably 50-50. (Tom) Brady is even more than that. (Drew) Brees is a big gun guy. … I don’t think (Foles) is going to have a problem either way when he gets to that level. He’s athletic enough to do both, and he’s big enough to where he can see whether he is under center or in the gun. He’s going to be fine. I don’t think it will be a transition for him at all.”

On Stanford’s defense:
“They are going to give us a lot of different stuff. Their front seven guys are excellent. They are going to come at you from different angles. Coverage-wise, they did a great job with us last year, banging our guys at the line of scrimmage, not letting them off. They mix up their coverages. When you look at the variety of things that they do, it’s hard to prepare for one specific thing. Nick is really going to have to be on as far as recognition — pre-snap and post-snap. And our offensive line will really be put to the test by what they’re going to see from a blitz standpoint. They bring guys from all different directions.”

On what he learned about Pac-12 defenses after one year in the conference:
“I probably didn’t appreciate how good the coaching is, how well things are coached schematically. You know the players are good; you see that every year on draft day. But schematically, they throw a lot of stuff at you. You have to make sure you’re on top of everything, because they are going to give you something that you haven’t seen and haven’t prepared for. We have yet to go into a game, saying, ‘All right, this is what they’re going to give us’ and that is what they play. You are going to get something new.”

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