Nick Foles throws in spring ball under the watchful eyes of quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo (left).
Photo by WildcatSportsReport.com
With the spring game looming on Saturday, Arizona coach Mike Stoops is ready to declare the strength of the team.
“I have been pleased with the progression of all three quarterbacks,” Stoops said after Wednesday morning’s practice. “I think there is a difference in every one of them when you look at them.”
It’s probably no coincidence that for the first time, Stoops has a quarterbacks coach who does not double as offensive coordinator, as Mike Canales and Sonny Dykes did.
Frank Scelfo, who tutored four NFL quarterbacks while at Tulane, can focus solely on improving the mechanics and the minds of Nick Foles, Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne.
“I think it’s a different aspect that we haven’t had for the quarterback position,” Stoops said of having Scelfo as a dedicated position coach. “You can have all the ability, but you still have to have the proper mechanics to throw the football accurately. Frank’s expertise in that area has definitely helped.”
**Here is more from Stoops about the quarterbacks:
“Nick really went to a different level this spring, along with Matt. I think both of them are much more polished players, just seeing things quicker, reacting quicker, getting the ball out of their hands, throwing the ball down the field better — every aspect of their game. Their intelligence. I just think they are much more confident players.”
**Beirne, a redshirt junior, has always been a good soldier, despite having only the slimmest prospects of playing time. In scrimmage situations, he has shown a good arm and good decision-making. It certainly wouldn’t be a disaster if he was forced into action by injuries.
“I think Bryson has made some positive steps as well in his limited reps,” Stoops said. “So we feel good. The quarterback position is probably the strongest position on the field.”
**It helps the quarterbacks that the receiver position is the “next position I feel really good about,” Stoops said.
Senior Delashaun Dean and junior Juron Criner are 6-4 outside receivers who combined for 87 catches for 978 yards and 11 touchdowns — nine by Criner — last season. They are givens. Stoops on Wednesday also singled out junior Bug Wright, who was limited by injuries last season, and redshirt freshman Richard Morrison, converting from quarterback.
“Richard Morrison is coming on. That has been a really positive move,” Stoops said.
He added: “Our skill is probably as good as it has ever been.”
**The big question on offense heading into the spring was identifying the play-caller after Stoops promoted Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell to co-coordinators. It was assumed that Littrell, by virtue of his game-day position in the coaches box, would be the one actually calling down the plays to the sideline, and it appears that will be the case.
“He and Bill set up the daily game plan, and then Seth calls it,” Stoops said. “Still, I’m not really worried about scoring points, really. I think we should be able to do that pretty consistently. I think we’re much better offensively than a year ago.”
**There isn’t a quarterback controversy, but Scott’s throwing appears to be improved, and perhaps the coaches won’t be afraid to let him wing it when he comes into the game as a running change-up to Foles.
“I think I have improved a lot,” Scott said.
“Since Coach Scelfo has been here, I have learned a lot and progressed a lot through him. I just feel like I am improving every day. I’m really confident.”
Earlier this spring, Scelfo said Scott’s throwing motion had gotten “too long,” and he had lost velocity and accuracy because of it. He also discussed how he was working on Foles’ footwork.
“Every time I don’t throw it how he wants it, he is going to let me know,” Scott said of Scelfo.
“He is going to tell me how it is. That is what I like about him. He’s a straight-up guy with you. He is going to give it to you straight. And I feel that is what I need.”