Tag:Matt Scott
Posted on: March 3, 2012 5:47 pm
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Spring Practice Primer: Arizona

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Arizona.

Spring Practice Starts: March 5

Spring Game: April 14

Returning starters: Six offensive, five defensive, two specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1.  Is Matt Scott as snug a fit for Rich Rodriguez's offense as he seems to be? Many college football fans have probably forgotten about Scott, but that's not his fault; the fifth-year senior and de facto Wildcat starter made highly successful cameos in both 2009 and 2010 before injuries and the emergence of Nick Foles consigned him to the bench. Though he's not going to be Pat White or Denard Robinson, Scott has more than enough mobility to be a weapon on the run -- his two 2010 starts yielded more than 130 combined yards on the ground -- and sufficient accuracy to keep defenses plenty honest. In short, Scott should be exactly the sort of quarterback Rodriguez would have wanted to inherit, a sort of Tate Forcier-type with vastly more experience (and vastly less, you know, academic ineligibility and such). If spring camp shows signs that Scott's picking the offense up as quickly as Rodriguez would want, the Wildcat offense could be something dynamic come the fall.

2. Are you sure? Who are the difference-making skill-position players? If Rodriguez was handed a nice housewarming gift in the person of Scott, on paper he hasn't been nearly as lucky at running back or wide receiver. Both the Wildcats' leading rusher from a year ago (Keola Antonin) and receiver (All-American Juron Criner) have departed, not to mention the team's second- and third-leading receivers as well--2,232 receiving yards in all. The good news is that rising sophomore Ka'Deem Carey should be ready to build on a promising debut season in the backfield, and that 6'4" senior Dan Buckner should have a breakout season in the receiving corps; the bad news is that if they're not, Scott may be forced to shoulder a heavier load than even he's capable of carrying.

3. Can the defense stay healthy? With Rodriguez's old ace defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel back in his staffing fold -- a failing at Michigan that, more than any other individual factor, led to Rodriguez's downfall in Ann Arbor -- the Wildcats shouldn't lack for defensive know-how. And in safety tandem Adam Hall and Marquis Flowers, defensive linemen Justin Washington and Kirifi Taula, and linebacker Jake Fischer, Castell will have some tools to work with. But that assumes those tools stay healthy--Fischer tore an ACL in spring camp 2011 and missed the entire season, a blow from which the linebacking corps never seemed to truly recover. If Casteel can get out of this spring with all of his key pieces intact, the Wildcats should be able to take a step forward on the defensive side of the ball in 2012.

To check in on the rest of the Pac-12 and other BCS conferences, check out the Spring Practice Schedule

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:08 pm
 

Arizona down to one QB after pair of transfers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When Rich Rodriguez took over at Michigan, the transfer of Ryan Mallett left the Wolverines in a quarterback crisis that played a major role in dragging Rodriguez's first team into a 3-9 hole. Things should be different in Rodriguez's new job at Arizona, but all the same, Rodriguez can't like the historical echoes of this week's quarterbacking news in Tucson

A pair of transfers have left Rodriguez's Wildcats with just one quarterback available for spring drills--senior Matt Scott, who spent a redshirt season in 2011 season behind star signal-caller Nick Foles. True freshman Daxx Garman asked out of the program the final week of November, while Rutgers transfer Tom Savage told Rodriguez this past week he would also be leaving the Wildcats in order to be closer to his family in Pennsylvania. A tweet indicated a family member coudl be ill.

"Tom has indicated to us that he wants to transfer closer to home for family reasons," Rodriguez said "He said it has nothing to do with football, schemes, or the University of Arizona. We certainly wish him and his family the best in the future."

That Savage's decision is unrelated to Rodriguez's spread schemes is one difference from Mallett's to leave Michigan, but there's still a much larger difference than that: Savage and Garman aren't leaving the cupboard bare. Scott is a highly experienced veteran with five career starts to his name and a few dandy performances; in a two-week stint filling in for Foles in 2010, Scott hit a combined 42-of-58 passes for 552 yards and 3 touchdowns in a pair of wins over UCLA and Washington. He should also prove to be an excellent fit athletically for Rodriguez's spread option attack, having collected 532 career yards on the ground.

"Everybody's been coming up to me this week, saying, 'Man, you're going to tear it up next year,' " Scott said recently. "I'm just trying to stay level-headed and stay calm. He has great credentials from where he's been (with) quarterbacks. That says it all. I'm happy for him to be here and ready to get to work."

So as long as Scott stays healthy, Rodriguez shouldn't be condemned to repeat his Michigan history. But if he goes down with an injury? It could be 2008 all over again.
Posted on: March 22, 2011 9:21 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Arizona

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Arizona, who started spring practice Monday.

Spring Practice Question: Who will emerge and help restock the offensive and defensive lines?

If starting quarterback Nick Foles takes his lineman out for dinner this spring, he might be doing so more to get to know them than he is to get some dinner after practice. That's the state of the Arizona offensive line, which loses all five starters to graduation and needs to be sorted out if Foles is going to have any time to throw to one of the most talented group of wide outs in the Pac-12.

A rebuilding job is nothing new for head coach Mike Stoops. Entering his eighth spring practice with the Wildcats, Stoops has taken the once downtrodden program and turned it into a consistent winner, with the team coming off their third straight winning season for the first time in over a decade. The colorful (usually a bright shade of red) Stoops will use spring practices to help forget last year's disastrous ending however, when the team lost their last five games of the year after a promising start.

Attention is primarily on the offensive line and learning to mesh with new offensive coordinator/line coach Robert Anae. The former offensive coordinator at BYU for the last five years, Anae won't have to change too much of the terminology of the offense and can instead focus on who meshes well along the line. Vaughn Dotsy figures to be the front runner at guard having previously been a starter but injury issues have held back his playing time. Kyle Quinn had a solid audition for the center spot after playing well in the bowl game last year and as the primary backup for the past two seasons. Outside of those two however, the rest of the line will be quite green. Redshirt freshman Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele figure to be in the mix for the other spots and are talented enough to play early in their careers.

If the line can gel during the spring and protect Foles, the Wildcats' offense could be one to watch. Foles' primary backup Matt Scott is expected to redshirt during the season so the spring will be a time for senior Bryson Beirne to get significant playing time to prepare for the fall. Early enrollee Daxx Garman will get a few looks but he didn't play his senior year in high school due to transfer issues.

Any of the quarterbacks on the roster will certainly like what the weapons they see around them. Running back Keola Antolin is back as the starter and Greg Nwoko should see his fair share of carries at the position this spring as well. Juron Criner headlines a talented group of wide receivers that may be the best returning group in the Pac-12. Eligible for the fall is Texas transfer Dan Buckner, who provides a big target for Foles in the red zone and caught 45 passes with the Longhorns as a true freshman. Freshmen Austin Hill and Tyler Slavin will also try and push for playing time this spring.

Though the defensive line won't have to replace the entire front four, they do need to find two new starters at defensive end to replace the terrific and underrated Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed. Dominique Austin, Mohammed Usman and Dan Pettinato will all get a shot but it will be hard to match the productivity Elmore and Reed had during their time in Tucson. Luckily, they'll have several quality defensive tackles rotating in next to them, led by redshirt sophomores Justin Washington and Sione Tuihalamaka. Washington racked up six sacks last season and will be key in getting a strong pass rush going. Keep an eye out for Aiulua Fanene and Saneilla Fuimaono at defensive tackle to provide the big bodies the Wildcats need in the trenches.

However the defensive line shapes up, the linebacker unit playing behind them returns all three starters and figure to mix in several younger players this spring to provide depth. The secondary will need to replace both safeties but has impressive, young talent at corner looking to hone their skills this spring. You can probably pencil in Adam Hall as one of the safeties this spring and Robert Golden, Trevin Wade, Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight figure to make the battle for the corner spots interesting.

There's a lot of talent on Arizona's roster for this spring and it's up to Stoops and several of his new staff members to figure out what to do with it and correct some of the issues that plagued them down the stretch last season. Things are always made easier when most of your skill position talent returns but that won't mean anything if the offensive line doesn't get sorted out this spring. 

Luckily (or unluckily depending on your point of view) for Stoops, he'll be able to conduct business under the radar as almost all the attention in Tucson is on the basketball team's run in the NCAA tournament.

Click here for more Spring Practice Primers
Posted on: February 17, 2011 11:35 am
 

Tom Savage lands at Arizona

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As with fellow quarterbacking transferee Tate Forcier, what was reportedly set to become a whirlwind recruitment tour for departed Rutgers QB Tom Savage has ended nearly before it begun. Per Arizona Rivals affiliate goazcats.com , Savage has pledged to play for Mike Stoops' Wildcats.

The news comes as a particular suprise since Savage had specifically requested the privilege of talking with Miami and other Florida schools, a request Greg Schiano had initially denied on publicly spurious reasons before relenting (but not before some interesting comments from Savage's father). Arizona was only the first stop of what had originally been intended to be a series of them.

But with Forcier landing at Miami, Savage elected to cut his re-recruitment short. A major part of Savage's reasoning is likely the friendly-looking Wildcat depth chart; with both starter Nick Foles and backup Matt Scott seniors in 2011, after sitting out his transfer year this fall Savage could very well be the heavy favorite to become Arizona's full-time 2012 starter. And in the Wildcats' Mike Leach- influenced, pass-first offense, Savage could find himself putting up big numbers.

It's not the move everyone was expecting for Savage. But it might be the move that makes the most sense for him all the same.

Posted on: November 8, 2010 3:41 pm
 

Oregon (and Arizona) with backup QB issues

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The way Oregon has a cut a swath of destruction through the Pac-10 thus far this season as athletic dual-threat quarterback Darron Thomas has operated Chip Kelly 's lethal spread-option offense to perfection, you might think the Ducks were invulnerable. But you don't have to go any further back than 2007 remember another season when an apparently-invulnerable Oregon was cutting a swath of destruction through the Pac-10 as athletic dual-threat quarterback Dennis Dixon was operating Chip Kelly's lethal spread-option offense to perfection, and that season ended with an unfortunate ACL injury to Dixon derailing what could have been a national championship campaign.

Until last Saturday, the Ducks appeared impervious to even that nightmare scenario, as senior backup Nate Costa , with several years of experience in Kelly's system under his belt, appeared to be a 100 percent sound backup plan in the event of Thomas's departure. (Costa deputized against Washington State earlier this year and hit a brisk 13-of-15 while rushing for 84 yards.) But that was before Costa "appeared to suffer a serious injury to his right knee" while trying to salvage a botched field goal hold against Washington this past weekend.

A final evaluation of Costa's status is still forthcoming , but Kelly seemed resigned to not having the senior available for this week's tricky visit to Cal , at the minimum. That leaves Kelly with two less-than-appetizing options if he has to turn to someone other than Thomas: true freshman Bryan Bennett , who earned the No. 3 job in the offseason but is a true freshman and who Kelly wants to redshirt, or redshirt sophomore Daryle Hawkins , who has spent the season working at running back and receiver.

As long as Thomas stays healthy, it won't matter who the backup is. But before Costa's injury, it had become nearly impossible to lay out a blueprint for a Ducks loss; now, an early knock to Thomas that could thrust Bennett or Hawkins into the fray on the road against an athletic, disruptive Bears defense could turn things awfully dicey for the Ducks in a big hurry. Even if Thomas remains intact, Kelly may feel forced to alter his play-calling to prevent him from taking as many hits; against the Bears, on the road, it's conceivable could this lead to the first real offensive hiccups of the season for the Duck offense.

At least the Ducks won't be alone in wondering what might happen if their starter goes down; Arizona will be without rejuvenated backup Matt Scott for their trip to USC as he recovers from a wrist injury. Scott led the Wildcats to a pair of wins in starter Nick Foles 's recent injury absence and might have spelled Foles Saturday against Stanford if healthy. Instead, the 'Cats will go with junior Bryson Beirne (and his five career pass attempts) in the event Foles is forced ot the bench.

Posted on: October 31, 2010 2:28 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Oct. 30)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. Oregon is much more likely to make it to Glendale than not. The Ducks aren't home free just yet; that season-ending trip to Corvallis to face Mike Riley 's Oregon State team won't be easy, and God only knows what kind of Cal squad Oregon will face when they travel to Berkeley Nov. 13. But after the Ducks dismantled USC 53-32 in Los Angeles Saturday night, neither of those hypothetical stumbling blocks (to say nothing of, say, Arizona 's chances to win at Autzen Stadium) look nearly imposing enough to expect Oregon's season to end anywhere but the BCS national championship game.

The Trojans had a ton of factors working in their favor: a bye week to prepare, a red-hot quarterback, an unusually-lively Coliseum, and most of all the desperation that comes with knowing that this was their best shot at being a team that mattered this season. They called it their bowl game for a reason. And it was enough to propel them to a 32-29 lead after two shirt-field touchdowns early in the third quarter, just as Stanford had used an early burst to lead in Autzen. But just as Ducks had done against the Cardinal, the array of weapons at Chip Kelly 's disposal -- LaMichael James in the running game, Jeff Maehl and Lavasier Tuinei in the passing game, Darron Thomas in both -- simply overwhelmed their ever-weakening opposition as the second half progressed. Oregon scored the final 24 points of the game and finished with 597 total yards.

They are relentless, they are operating on all their proverbial cylinders, and even their allegedly soft defense -- always worse for the statistical wear thanks to the offense's hyperdrive tempo -- held the previously scorching Matt Barkley to a mediocre 5 yards per pass attempt and USC under 400 total yards for the game. Unless they badly underperform the same night the Golden Bears or Beavers stupendously overperform, they will become the first Pac-10 team other than their Saturday victims to play for a crystal football.

2. USC isn't going to be anything more than a middle-of-the-pack Pac-10 team until they learn how to stop the run. The charge frequently leveled at Monte Kiffin as his defenses first at Tennessee and now Southern Cal have struggled is that the 70-year-old defensive coordinator isn't sharp enough any more to adjust to the modern spread offense.

There might be something to that, given the 588 yards given up to Hawaii in USC's season opener and the 597 yielded to the Ducks. But the Trojans' biggest problem is a lot simpler: they're getting crushed up front. LaMichael James went for 239 rushing yards and the Ducks for 311 as a team. Stanford ? 193 yards, 5.4 a carry. Washington ? 225 yards, 6.6 a carry. That's not a matter of Kiffin's schemes or a misunderstanding of the spread; that's a matter of the Trojan defensive front just getting shoved around. Until they mature and start clogging up lanes in the middle of the field, USC's defense is going to continue to flail no matter what Kiffin does.

3. Cal isn't the only Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit in this conference. Speaking of Washington, the last time we saw them at home they were edging a good Oregon State team in overtime. While not many people were expecting them to upset Stanford, to get throttled 41-0 in Husky Stadium is an embarrassment ... and baffling considering how well they played just two weeks ago. With road trips to Oregon and Cal still to come and the Huskies wallowing at 3-5 overall, it doesn't look like this is the year just yet for Steve Sarkisian to break his team's eight-year bowl drought.

Arizona State , meanwhile, rebounded from losing to 33 points at Cal to shut out previously-improving Washington State 42-0 .

4. But Cal is still the original and most committed Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit. The Golden Bears trailed by 28 at halftime and lost 35-7 at Oregon State, as Kevin Riley had to be helped off the field in the first quarter. One of Cal's eight games have been decided by fewer than 21 points.

5. UCLA is as much a mess as ever. The Bruins looked to have their ship righted when they went on the road to upset Texas , but it turns out going on the road to upset Texas isn't that big a deal. And in the meantime, they've been humilated by Cal and Oregon and could have been by Matt Scott (319 yards, 71 rushing) and Arizona. A series of Wildcat failures in the red zone kept UCLA close, but getting outgained by 284 total yards and rushing for just 2.5 yards a carry at home is a sign that goes well beyond worrying. Another home loss this coming weekend, to Oregon State, and Rick Neuheisel will be staring a four- or even three-win season in the face.



Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:44 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Oct. 23)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

All the real fireworks in the current Pac-10 and future Pac-12 came midweek with the announcement of the conference's divisional split midweek. Two teams -- USC and Oregon State -- enjoyed a bye week, and none of the four conference games were closer than 16 points at halftime. But there were still some important lessons to learn, starting with ...

1. Cal is the most Jekyll-and-Hyde team in the country. The last time we checked in with the Bears, they were getting annihilated by USC in the L.A. Coliseum, giving up six first-half touchdowns and trailing 42-0 at the break. That was a week after they'd throttled UCLA and the Bruins's pistol attack 35-7 . That result came two dates on the schedule after they'd been shredded by Nevada 's pistol attack 52-31 .

So even though Arizona State had been an excellent road team entering their visit to Berkeley, losing to Wisconsin by a point and downing Washington in Seattle, you could see this coming: 40 straight Cal points after a game-opening Sun Devil field goal, zero offensive touchdowns allowed, a 137-yard advantage in total offense, and a 50-17 rout to move the Bears to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-10. Beleaguered quarterback Kevin Riley -- whose ups and downs mirror the team's closely enough that he ought to be named the team mascot -- went 19-of-29 for 240 yards and no interceptions.

Cal has played one close game, their 10-9 loss at Arizona . The average margin of victory in the other six, for either Cal or their opponent? 32 points.

2. No one's touching Oregon at Autzen Stadium. What this observer took away first and foremost from the Ducks' 60-13 evisceration of UCLA on Thursday night was just how comfortable Chip Kelly 's team appeared. Even playing at the fastest tempo seen in college football today (and maybe ever?), the Oregon offense never seemed confused, never seemed out-of-control, never even seemed to break a sweat. They churned up and down the field with the ease of a swimmer doing laps at the Y. The Bruins never stood a chance.

So does anyone remaining on Oregon's schedule? Most certainly, but only the teams that get the advantage of hosting the Ducks, where the travel and unfamiliar stadium and hostile crowd can at least start to bump the Ducks out of the lethal comfort zone we saw Thursday. Remember: Oregon's only played one team that is not Washington State on the road thus far, Arizona State, and that team held the Ducks to 405 yards and outgained them by nearly 200.

3. If anything happens to that Cam Newton guy, LaMichael James will make for a highly worthy Heisman Trophy winner. James's stats against UCLA don't jump off the page by Heisman standards -- 20 carries, 123 yards, 2 touchdowns -- but those watching the game saw James show off his usual breathtaking combination of speed, power, agility, and mad receiving skills. No tailback in the country is playing better.

4. Nick Foles doesn't have to rush back. The Arizona starting quarterback missed the Wildcats' 44-14 beatdown of Washington with a dislocated kneecap and his return date is still TBA. But the performance of Matt Scott -- the same returning starter who Foles usurped for the job in 2009 -- suggests that there's no need for Foles to rush his timetable. Scott hit 18 of his 22 passes for 233 yards, collecting two touchdowns and going without an interception. He even showed off the legs that made him a starter in the first place, running for 64 yards on 8 carries.

Given that the schedule offers Arizona a date at reeling UCLA this week, if Foles can just get healthy by the Nov. 6 trip to Stanford , that ought to be good enough.

5. Washington State is making progress, however incremental. No, the Cougars' 38-28 loss to Stanford wasn't as close as the final score indicated; Wazzu trailed 38-14 in the final quarter and scored two late touchdowns to make things a bit more cosmetic. But facts are facts: the 10-point final margin is the closest Paul Wulff has come to a Pac-10 opponent in his three seasons, and that he managed it on the road against the No. 12 team in the country is all the more encouraging.


Posted on: October 18, 2010 2:47 pm
 

No Nick Foles is trouble for Arizona

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When Arizona quarterback Nick Foles went down with a knee injury on Saturday against Washington State, fear immediately spread throughout Tuscon that his season was done, and that Arizona's chances of going to Pasadena were done with him.  A feeling that is understandable considering that Foles is one of the biggest reasons the Wildcats have been a force this season.

The good news for the Wildcats is that Foles is only expected to miss two to three weeks with his dislocated kneecap.  The bad news is that this injury coincides with the part of Arizona's schedule that provides the biggest test of the season, and that they'll have to depend on the much-maligned Matt Scott during the stretch.

When Scott first came to Arizona three years ago, he was pegged as the future.  Scott was a dual-threat quarterback that was going to beat opponents with his arm and his legs, but the problem was that Scott spent most of his time on the field forgetting he had an arm, instead choosing to take off at will.

He was beaten out for the job by Foles last season, and now the junior finds himself thrown into the fire, trying to find the promise he had against teams like Washington, Cal and Stanford.   And that's if Foles only misses three weeks.  After a trip to Stanford the Wildcats have to face USC before heading north to take on Oregon.

Scott played pretty well against Washington State after Foles went down, throwing for 139 yards and completing 70% of his passes while showing a willingness to stay in the pocket he hadn't shown before. 

Still, that was against Washington State, the worst team in the Pac-10, and Scott still made some bad decisions in that game and threw an interception without throwing a touchdown.

Maybe there's a chance that Scott will continue to grow and play well in Foles' absence, finally figuring out how to balance his arm and his legs -- something Arizona coaches should help him with by making adjustments to this week's game plan -- and Arizona won't miss a beat.

Still, something tells me that Scott might play better, but won't be good enough to keep Arizona in contention for the Pac-10.  By the time Foles is healthy enough to return to the field, I fear it will be too late.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com