UA fifth-year senior Chris Merrill, center, has made just 10 tackles in his career but is expected to play significant snaps in Saturday's opener.


Nick Foles plays quarterback, where he serves as the only variable in a math equation.

Consider: Arizona Wildcats coach Mike Stoops has said he's comfortable throwing 50 times per game this season. If the Wildcats play 13 games, and Foles attempts 650 passes, following his career averages, he would throw for …

Well, solve for X.

"I have no clue. You dropped some math on me," Foles said with a laugh. "As long as the loss column is zero and the win column is however-many, I don't care about the yards."

Oh, but those yards.

If Stoops' vow holds true, and Foles throws 50 times a game, his numbers project to between 4,000 and 4,400 yards - depending on whether the Cats play in a bowl - which would be a UA single-season record. Willie Tuitama set the mark with 3,683 yards in 2007.

Foles enters his senior season needing 3,535 yards to become Arizona's all-time leading passer. With 28 touchdowns, Foles would pass Tuitama's mark of 67 career touchdowns; no other player in school history has more than 46. There's every reason to think Foles can get close - or at least make it interesting - if he stays true to his career averages.

The 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound quarterback merely needs to attempt between 40 and 50 passes per game, and keep his 65.3 percent completion average and touchdown and interception rates the same, to have a shot at breaking Arizona's all-time offensive records.

Foles' success will come down to health and consistency.

A broken left hand limited his effectiveness at the end of his sophomore season. Foles dislocated his kneecap against Washington State midway through the 2010 campaign, an injury that cost him the bulk of Arizona's game against Washington State and starts against Washington and UCLA. Backup Matt Scott racked up 826 all-purpose yards with Foles out, numbers that would have added to the starter's spectacular numbers.

Foles has mostly been stellar as a starter, though he's been prone to lengthy lapses in big games. Stoops said this week that Foles, and the Wildcats' offense, must avoid back-to-back "three-and-outs" in games and stay up-tempo to be successful.

"Nick's going to have a good year. I know what he's capable of," Stoops said. "It's important that he doesn't have lulls in games that go beyond a series. … I thought in big games that we had that at times. We just weren't in rhythm."

Quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo said Foles' lulls in 2009 and 2010 were "a unit thing," and likely more an indicator of the team's struggles as a group than one player's problem. The Wildcats spent their training camp working on tempo, pace and play-calling - three things that, if properly executed, should keep them on the field in games.

Foles "needs to be a great player for us," Scelfo said.

To do that, the QB needs to post great numbers.

Just do the math.

"You know, great players never have bad days. They might have bad plays, but they never have bad days," Scelfo said. "Nick needs to play great for us for us to win this year."

On StarNet: Chat live with UA football reporter Ryan Finley on Friday at noon:

Foles in the UA annals

UA career passing yardage

1. Willie Tuitama (2005-08) 9,211 yards

2. Tom Tunnicliffe (1980-83) 7,618 yards

3. Alfred Jenkins (1983-86) 6,016 yards

4. Keith Smith (1996-99) 5,972 yards

5. Jason Johnson (1999-2002) 5,749 yards

6. Dan White (1993-95) 5,723 yards

7. Nick Foles (2009-present) 5,677 yards

CALIFORNIA receiver chooses cats

The Arizona Wildcats have landed one of their top offensive targets in the 2012 recruiting class.

Julian Brooks, a three-star recruit and the nation's 66th-best wide receiver according to, verbally committed to the Cats on Tuesday night. He chose UA over offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah State and Washington State.

At 6 feet 2 inches and 185 pounds, Brooks is one of the top receivers at Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon School. He caught 34 passes for 858 yards as a junior and figures to be one of the Trailblazers' top players as a senior.

Brooks, 18, said he hopes to become the next Juron Criner - "I would say I'm the most like him of any of their receivers," he said - at the UA, while majoring in business and entrepreneurship. Brooks' cousin is NBA super-agent Bill Duffy; Brooks said he hopes to open an NFL branch of Duffy's agency after college.

Arizona's academics and athletics were the perfect combination, he said.

"They had been No. 1 in my mind for the last two years," he said. "It seems kind of dumb not to commit."

Brooks can sign a national letter of intent in February. The UA opens Saturday against Northern Arizona.

Up next

• What: NAU at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• TV; radio: FSAZ, Ch 58 (Cable Ch 8); 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

best year ever?

Using Nick Foles' career stats as a guide, we project his yardage, TDs and interceptions for his senior year. Here's how the Cats' quarterback would fare if …

40 throws per game, no bowl

3,241 yards

22 TDs

11 INTs

40 throws per game, plus bowl

3,511 yards

24 TDs

12 INTs

50 throws per game, no bowl

4,052 yards

28 TDs

14 INTs

50 throws per game, plus bowl

4,384 yards

30 TDs

15 INTs