Scott's reemergence as starting quarterback suggests future success
Larry Hogan/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Well, so much for an adjustment period.
Fifth-year senior Matt Scott was far from perfect in Arizona’s victory over Toledo in his first start as the UA’s starting quarterback, but his grasp of the offense and decision-making in the win impressed head coach Rich Rodriguez.
“Matt, even though he’s a fifth-year senior, that was his first game in the system,” Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He missed a couple throws, which he wants to have back, but in our offense, the quarterback has to make a decision on every play run or pass, and Matt was really sharp with that tonight in his first game.”
Scott threw a career high 387 yards and two touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes. Oh, and he also added 74 yards rushing for a combined total of 461 yards of offense.
The third best single-game performance in Arizona program history, behind Willie Tuitama and Keith Smith, was far from perfect. At least two of Scott’s 16 incompletions were overthrown passes to wide open receivers, and he also had a fourth quarter interception that could have been costly if not for a defensive stop.
“I hope after four weeks of practice, there isn’t a whole lot of rust,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just a matter of timing. Game speed is different. As much as we try to emulate that in practice, the game speed is a little different. Some of those plays we’ll hit in the future, we’re going to have to.”
Butt Scott didn’t earn more total yards Saturday night than Nick Foles in any start in a career that saw him drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles because of his mistakes.
He was quick in his decision-making and accurate in the short passing game and light on his feet, averaging 5.3 yards a carry and twice late in the fourth quarter running for first downs, putting the Wildcats in position for a game-winning field goal, had John Bonano not missed the kick.
That Scott threw for almost 400 yards would not have been as surprising if Mike Stoops was still the head coach, considering the Wildcats had the top passing offense in the Pac-12 a year ago, but Rodriguez’s spread-option offense has historically let the running backs do all the work, or at least employ a run-first quarterback.
“I’m a quarterback, obviously,” Scott said. “I want to sit back there and throw the ball. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a runner only, but I’m going to sit back there and throw the ball and run it when I need to.”
Not Saturday night. Scott had the team on the back of his jersey, which on Arizona’s final play of overtime was being drug to the ground by Toledo defensive tackle Danny Farr, only for Scott to find an open Terrence Miller backing into the end zone for the game-winning score.
“He’s a great athlete, a great player and a great quarterback,” sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey said. “He’s smart. I didn’t feel like he was going to mess up in that thing. I felt like he was going to try to make a play knowing it was the last play of the game for us.”
It wasn’t just on-field heroics that made Scott’s teammates happy. His newfound maturity grown from spending last year on the bench as a redshirt was also on display.
“I think Matt did a great job on and off the field being a leader,” Miller, a senior receiver said. “When bad things happened, he was the first one to tell us ‘the game’s not over, it’s nowhere near over.’ When they got up he told us ‘it’s still early in the game, we still have a long time to go.’ Even when we got in the fourth quarter and bad plays happened, fumbles, missed field goals, he kept us in it.”