"Quarterback race: Scott, Foles still neck-in-neck"

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Alan Walsh | The Daily Wildcat Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona quarterback Nick Foles signs a t-shirt for 15 year old fan Eric Huelsman.

Just when it seemed like the answer was becoming clear, it was back to the drawing board for Arizona head football coach Mike Stoops and the rest of his offensive coaching staff.


""We'll evaluate (the quarterback competition) and see where we're at,"" Stoops said after Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage. ""We've just got to really take a hard look at it and see exactly where we're at.""


The UA football team entered summer camp with sophomore Matt Scott and redshirt sophomore Nick Foles in a dead heat for the starting quarterback position. As recently as a week ago, it appeared that Scott had emerged as the favorite to replace last year's starter, Willie Tuitama, at the game's most vital position.


Reports surfaced that Stoops would name the starting quarterback after Saturday's scrimmage at Arizona Stadium. Yet when thrusted into the center of media members and television cameras, the head coach avoided addressing the competition until asked, eventually citing poor overall performance in the passing game as the reason for not having chosen a starter.


""Our drop-back game needs to improve, too many balls on the ground, I was just disappointed in our passing game,"" he said. ""We've got to get better at it.""


A combination of the young receivers' growing pains and minor injuries to junior tight end Rob Gronkowski and junior wide receiver Delashaun Dean — the team's most dangerous receiving weapons — haven't allowed the quarterback candidates to get in tune with the offense.


The fact that neither quarterback has managed to overcome that challenge makes the decision even harder.


""We need to get Robbie (Gronkowski) and (Dean) back, obviously they're a big part of our offense,"" Stoops said. ""But we need to throw the football better. That's probably the most disappointing part of it right now is really our drop-back game. That takes the most amount of time and we really got to try and improve on that as we move forward to be an effective offense.""


Both quarterbacks looked unsure of themselves and skittish in the pocket in the spring, but as the summer moved along, Scott appeared to become more confident and comfortable, even stepping into a leadership role while Foles appeared to regress.


With the stage set Saturday for Scott to officially insert himself as the starter, the speedy signal caller struggled while Foles led two 75-yard scoring drives — both resulting in touchdowns.


While the quarterback competition hasn't sorted itself out yet, the rest of the team knows that there is much more to a football team than who is under center.


""It hasn't really affected the way (the wide receivers) prepare at all,"" sophomore slot receiver William ‘Bug' Wright said. ""Regardless of who's back there we need to catch the ball, make plays and help our team win.""


Even those on the defensive side have taken it upon themselves to step up in the absence of a quarterback.


""It's tough for the offense to come together because it's entirely new (offensive personnel),"" said defensive end Ricky Elmore. ""It's easy for us on defense to come together because we've been together for a while, so we're just trying to make (the offense better) in practice.""


The team unity has given the coaching staff some breathing room for perhaps the biggest decision they will have to make all season, but the clock ticking is getting louder and louder as the game against Central Michigan on Sept. 5 approaches.

 


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