The biggest question about Arizona Wildcats football this week might not get an answer until Saturday night.
Senior quarterback Matt Scott said his injured right hip — which limited his versatility, at least, in a 49-0 loss to Oregon on Saturday night will be “all right,” but it’s also pretty clear Arizona wouldn’t say if it wasn’t.
Scott said he took a hit on the hip during the first drive against Oregon. He went to the locker room to get extra padding on the hip and missed a couple of plays. When he returned, the coaches took care to decrease his exposure to hits, basically abandoning the quarterback-run plays that are the cornerstone of the read-option offense.
“Matt got a little sore, a bit banged up, in the first quarter,” coach Rich Rodriguez said.
“We weren’t running Matt a lot anyway. But after that, it limited some of the stuff we would normally do with Matt. After that, we curtailed any other quarterback thoughts we had as far as Matt running the ball.”
Scott rushed only five times for 9 yards vs. the Ducks; really only four times, considering one of those rushes was a sack.
Pulling out sack numbers, he ran 12 times in the opener vs. Toledo and 15 vs. Oklahoma State. Scott carried nine times while playing only three quarters vs. South Carolina State.
He said the hip “probably did a little bit” change how he approached the run game Saturday.
“I hesitated to run the ball sometimes,” Scott said. “But I have to put that behind me. I just have to keep going.”
Scott also struggled in the passing game, completing 22 of 44 passes for 210 yards, with three interceptions. Was that because of his hip or a fast and talented Oregon defense? Both?
Rodriguez has been more judicious than he ever has in terms of the quarterback running the ball in his read-option offense. His teams at West Virginia and Michigan ran the ball about two-thirds of the time, but the Cats have slightly more passes (186) than runs (178) this season.
Arizona isn’t delivering a full dose of the read-option in Rodriguez’s first season, but the offense needs Scott to at least be a threat in order to prevent the defense from getting comfortable against the passing attack and a ground approach that would be more conventional.
Whether Scott is capable of providing that threat this week might not be known until he plays a couple of series against Oregon State on Saturday night.