It's adjust or bust with Scott in

2010-10-18T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T09:17:09Z It's adjust or bust with Scott inRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 18, 2010 12:00 am  • 

PULLMAN, Wash. - This is what the future of Arizona Wildcats football was supposed to look like, right?

Matt Scott under center, the UA sitting at 5-1 and ranked No. 15 nationally. Winnable games remaining on the schedule. An entire city rooting for the electrifying quarterback with the big hair, green eyes and hyperkinetic legs.

Of course, looks are deceiving.

Scott never quite got the chance to win over his coaches and teammates during his first two-plus seasons at the UA, never had the highlight-reel play that showed off his speed and never seemed to grasp the Wildcats' spread offense.

And when he took over in Saturday night's 24-7 win over hapless Washington State, it was only because Nick Foles - the UA starter, the player who beat him out a year ago - was on the ground in a heap.

"It was kind of bittersweet," Scott said.

Scott will run the offense for the next two or three weeks, maybe longer, as Foles recovers from what appears to be a dislocated right kneecap.

Arizona's offense will change to suit him.

"We have to put multiple things in there that we can go to," coach Mike Stoops said. "You have to look at what Matt likes, then slant your offense to that."

Don't be surprised if the UA's retooled offense includes:

1. More sneaks. Scott arrived at the UA in 2008 as a "dual-threat" quarterback, one capable of beating opponents with both his arms and legs. Though the Wildcats' coaches did their best to turn him into a pocket-passer, speed remains Scott's biggest strength.

Expect the Wildcats' new starter to run -a lot.

Scott rushed 41 times for 309 yards a year ago - no player on the team averaged more yards per run. He has more career rushes (77) than completed passes (70).

The Wildcats could scrap some of their shorter passing routes in favor of a lead-option attack, with the 6-foot-3-inch, 215-pound Scott either handing the ball off or running it himself.

Think more Oregon, less Texas Tech.

"Matt's obviously better at running the ball than Nick," center Colin Baxter said. "It'll obviously open up some things."

2. Fewer passes - and completions. Foles built his reputation on completion percentage, connecting on 75.3 of this season's attempts before Saturday's injury. Scott isn't blessed with as accurate an arm, so the Wildcats likely won't attempt - or complete - as many passes.

Still, Scott seems to be getting better. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 139 yards against Washington State while running a system tailored for Foles.

Scott said he finally understands the offense.

"There would have been other times when I would have stayed back in the pocket and then run out," he said.

3. More Grigsby and Antolin. Though coaches stressed the importance of running the football through the first six games, the numbers showed otherwise. Before Saturday's win over Wazzu, Arizona had thrown the ball 201 times and run it just 136 times.

The Wildcats now have no choice but to establish the run.

Tailbacks Keola Antolin and Nicolas Grigsby gave the team a much-needed boost Saturday, rushing a combined 35 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns. They'll need to keep it up for the offense to continue chugging.

4. A Criner cutback. No player will be more affected by Foles' injury than Juron Criner, the Wildcats' All-America-caliber wide receiver. The rangy wideout caught just two passes for 20 yards against the Cougars, his worst performance of the season.

Don't be surprised if the Foles-to-Criner fade, the pass route that single-handedly made the Wildcats contenders a year ago, is replaced with something shorter and safer.

Scott said he still has plenty to work on. Only now, there's no margin for error.

"Every day is a day for improvement," he said. "There's a lot of room for it."

Up next

• Who: Washington at Arizona

• When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday

• TV: ESPN

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

AP TOP 25

With first-place votes in parentheses, records through Oct. 16 and previous ranking.

1. Oregon (39) 6-0 2

2. Boise St. (15) 6-0 3

3. Oklahoma (3) 6-0 6

4. TCU (3) 7-0 4

5. Auburn 7-0 7

6. LSU 7-0 9

7. Alabama 6-1 8

8. Michigan St. 7-0 13

9. Utah 6-0 11

10. Wisconsin 6-1 18

11. Ohio St. 6-1 1

12. Stanford 5-1 14

13. Iowa 5-1 15

14. Nebraska 5-1 5

15. Arizona 5-1 17

16. Florida St. 6-1 16

17. Oklahoma St. 6-0 20

18. Missouri 6-0 21

19. South Carolina 4-2 10

20. West Virginia 5-1 25

21. Arkansas 4-2 12

22. Texas 4-2 -

23. Virginia Tech 5-2 -

24. Mississippi St. 5-2 -

25. Miami 4-2 -

Others receiving votes: Southern Cal 80, Kansas St. 40, Nevada 19, Hawaii 8, North Carolina 8, Northwestern 8, Michigan 7, Georgia Tech 5, Oregon St. 3, Baylor 2, N.C. State 2, Air Force 1, East Carolina 1, Kentucky 1, Washington 1.

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