FOOTBALL

UA football: Future is now for QB of future

Fifth-year senior Scott is UA's most-tenured but new to new system
2012-03-07T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T10:26:33Z UA football: Future is now for QB of futureRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 07, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Matt Scott is blessed with quick feet that make defenders miss and a strong arm that keeps them honest.

The Arizona Wildcats senior has a third threat, too: catching - and catching up.

Consider this Catch-22:

As the UA's most tenured player and the only scholarship quarterback on the Wildcats' roster, Scott - who redshirted as a senior last fall - is expected to not only produce but lead.

For all his experience, however, Scott remains a newbie in first-year coach Rich Rodriguez's spread-option offense. He'll spend the next six months learning a new playbook, philosophy and plan.

Scott struggled in Monday's first spring practice, but he showed enough athleticism and willingness to improve that it's easy to envision him running the offense when the Wildcats open their season Sept. 1 against Toledo.

"So far, so … decent," Scott said with a smile. "We're still kind of picking this thing up and taking it as it goes. I've been picking (the offense) up for the most part; there are a few wrinkles in there I haven't gotten to yet.

"Eventually, we're going to get it, and we're going to be good at it."

Scott showed tantalizing promise in his first three seasons (2008-10) at the UA, throwing for 1,301 yards and rushing for 632 yards in 22 games, five spent as a starter.

The Corona, Calif., native was at his best late in the 2010 season. With Nick Foles sidelined with a dislocated kneecap, Scott amassed 688 total yards of offense and scored three touchdowns in wins over Washington and UCLA. Scott injured his wrist in his final start and tweaked his shoulder in the final month of the season, and he surrendered the starting job to Foles for good.

With his career at a crossroads, Scott then took a risk.

The quarterback told coaches he wanted to redshirt in 2011, ceding the starting job to Foles and clearing the way for him to start as a fifth-year senior.

In retrospect, Scott's timing couldn't have been better.

Foles put together one of the best seasons in UA history as a senior, but the Wildcats - done in by injuries and inconsistency - struggled. Coach Mike Stoops was fired Oct. 10 with his team mired in a 1-5 start.

Rodriguez, and his up-tempo offense, was hired Nov. 21. The quarterback is the key to the spread-option attack: On each snap, he must read the defense, gauge the pass-rush and, depending on what he sees, either hand the ball off, keep it himself or pass.

Scott ran a stripped-down version of the offense at Corona's Centennial High School, but Arizona's system is far more complicated.

"There's going to be a learning curve for him," Rodriguez said. "Everybody's expecting a whole lot of things - and we do, too, and that's OK - but he's a freshman in that system. We have to keep that in mind as we continue to teach him."

Scott, 21, knows the challenges but admitted he couldn't have landed in a sweeter situation had he tried.

"I didn't expect the coaches to get fired," he said. "I guess you can say it worked out for me."

Still, mastering a new scheme - and staying healthy while doing it - will be a challenge for a player who has struggled with consistency throughout his career. While the 6-foot-3-inch, 197-pound Scott's physical gifts are a given, it's unclear just how well he will lead.

Center Kyle Quinn said he likes what he has seen from the quarterback so far.

"He's doing really good. He's filling the shoes," Quinn said. "He's stepping up and becoming a leader, and he's continuing to grow."

That's what makes Scott so compelling. He's a soon-to-be-fifth-year senior with low mileage. A dual-threat quarterback who's finally playing in a system that fits his strengths. A one-time quarterback of the future whose time has come.

"Matt's acted mature around the office, and done a good job in the weight room," Rodriguez said. "He understands that this is his time."

GREAT SCOTT?

After four years of waiting, Arizona Wildcats Matt Scott is finally ready to assume the starting position. Here's a look at how he has fared thus far in his college career.

Passing

Yr Cp-Att-Yds-Int TDs

2008 7-11-84-0 1

2009 41-73-441-3 1

2010 66-93-776-2 4

2011 Redshirted

Total 114-176-1,301-4 6

Rushing

Year Att-Yds TDs

2008 23-88 1

2009 41-309 0

2010 35-135 0

2011 Redshirted

Total 99-632 1

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Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Cal 4 3 0 0.571
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
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