UA-ASU

Arizona football: He's 'been through a lot'

Dedicated QB Scott ends career on upswing after challenging times
2012-11-22T00:00:00Z 2013-09-10T15:28:22Z Arizona football: He's 'been through a lot'Ryan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Betsy Scott asked God to guide her son often during the early years, when expectations, stress and rare failure threatened to ruin everything.

Matt Scott's mom never prayed for more playing time.

That, she said, would have been petty.

"We prayed for him not to get down on himself and hoped that he would continue to be the person he was," she said. "He has always been this wonderful kid. Even if he wasn't mine, I'd tell you that."

Scott's improbably long, impossibly strange college football career is coming to a close. The Arizona Wildcats' senior quarterback will be honored before Friday's Territorial Cup showdown with Arizona State, then lead the Wildcats against their rivals at Arizona Stadium.

The 21-year-old Scott may have matured during his time in Tucson, but - to his mom's delight - he hasn't changed. He is still the fiery-on-the-field, friendly-off-it force that first verbally committed to former coach Mike Stoops as a 10th-grader.

Though he has reason to be bitter about the way his career has progressed, Scott takes the high road.

In fact, he's thankful.

"I'm happy it's ending this way," the quarterback said after practice this week. "I've been through a lot. I finally got my chance to play, and I couldn't have asked for anything more."

By now, Scott's story is well-known Wildcats fans. He arrived at the UA in 2008 as Willie Tuitama's heir apparent, a dual-threat quarterback who, coaches hoped, would usher Arizona into a new era of fast-paced football. He inherited the starting job as a sophomore but lost it after three weeks of subpar play.

Nick Foles, a Michigan State transfer, started for the next three years.

Scott briefly considered transferring; ultimately, he told family and friends that he felt loyalty to the school, whether he was playing or not. Betsy Scott wasn't surprised: "Chewy" - nobody calls him Matt - has always been stubborn in the best kind of way.

"Whether it's being a son, a brother, a friend, a football player, a student, he's very committed to everything," she said. "He's always had a love for his program that's just … flooring."

And, this year, Scott's faith has been rewarded.

Aided by a fifth year of eligibility - he redshirted as a senior in 2011 - and the UA's hiring of Rich Rodriguez, Scott's career has soared. In 10 games, the Wildcats quarterback has completed 254 of 413 passes for 3,008 yards and 21 touchdowns; he has run 96 times for 443 yards and five scores.

Scott is averaging 345.1 total yards per game, numbers that rank first in the Pac-12 and No. 8 nationally. With eight touchdown passes in his next two games - the Wildcats are already assured of a bowl game - Scott can set the UA's single-season record. Tuitama and Foles currently share the mark, 28.

The numbers are nice.

But Scott's probably best known - and most respected - for the way he guides the team. Scott will be a team captain for the seventh time this season Friday night and remains the face of the program. Teammates marvel at his intensity on game day, willingness to endure pain on the field and dedication to the sport.

Even if it sometimes makes him sick.

Scott threw up on the field during last week's win over Utah, the result, he says, of calling his own number three times for 42 yards on the same drive. Rodriguez asked Scott during a timeout if he was tired; the quarterback managed a brief "hell yes" before running back on the field and leading his team to a touchdown.

Scott plays hungrily, even angrily - a little brother who's finally been allowed to play with the big kids. His teammates love it.

"We've grown up together. We both came here when we were 18 - well, he was 17," senior center Kyle Quinn said. "Matt's really ending his career on a great and positive note. He deserves it. He's worked hard, waited his turn, and now he's out there, putting up great results on the field."

Friday's game will mark the first in a series of lasts. Scott is scheduled to graduate next month with a degree in general studies; sometime after that, he'll lead the Wildcats into a bowl game, the last chapter to his career.

The fifth-year senior will leave a changed man.

He will have changed the UA, too.

"It's been so quick, man. It's like the blink of an eye," he said. "I've been through a lot of ups and downs, but it's still gone really fast - so quick that I can't even explain to you."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats on Ryan Finley's blog at azstarnet.com/finley

The Rodriguez Report

UA coach Rich Rodriguez's report for Friday's game against ASU:

Injury report

• Out: LB Hank Hobson (neck), DE Dominique Austin (foot, season), WR Terrence Miller (foot, season)

• Doubtful: None

• Questionable: DE Reggie Gilbert (ankle)

• Probable: S Wayne Capers Jr. (illness), OG Chris Putton (concussion), WR Dan Buckner (ankle)

Team captains

• OG Trace Biskin, QB Matt Scott, C Kyle Quinn, LB Jake Fischer

Up next

• Who: Arizona State (6-5, 4-4) at Arizona (7-4, 4-4)

• When: 8 p.m. Friday on ESPN, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, and 990-AM

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