Huskies Insider Blog

Know your enemy: Slowing down Nick Foles

Here's my story from today's paper which talks about quarterback Nick Foles. The standout senior is leading the Pac 12 at 363 passing yards per game, which ranks him fourth in the NCAA.

In a conference that features Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and even Darron Thomas and Keith Price, Foles has been kind of left out of the media spotlight. It doesn't help that his team had lost five in a row. But he's good.

From my story ...

But in front of a national TV audience on Oct. 20, Foles served a reminder that he’s pretty darn good, throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns in Arizona’s 48-12 trouncing of UCLA.

“It’s hard to tell if you are getting overlooked or not,” Foles said. “I’m not looking for the appreciation. It’s wins or losses, and I didn’t do enough to get wins. Fans and media and all of that stuff is out of my control. At the end of the day, all I can control is how my team does.”

Foles returns to Husky Stadium on Saturday night – a place of not-so-fond memories – to lead an Arizona team that hasn’t given up on its postseason hopes. He will face a defense that has made lesser quarterbacks look like John Elway.

“I think he’s been playing good football now for quite some time in our conference,” Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Maybe that’s why people tend to forget about Foles. It seems like he’s been leading the Wildcats for the better part of a decade. Saturday will be the 29th start of his college career.

And in those 28 starts and two other games he didn’t start, he’s thrown for 8,223 yards and 57 touchdowns, statistics that place him second in school history behind Willie Tuitama, who has 8,727 career passing yards and 67 touchdowns. Foles looks like a good bet to break both records, and will also end up being Arizona’s career leader in pass completions, completion percentage, pass attempts and possibly total offense.So what can the Huskies do to stop him? Obviously they can try and run some different looks to try and keep him off balance, but he has seen plenty in his career.

"He's a veteran, but he's not an 15-year NFL vet yet," head coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We've got to try; we'd be foolish not to try to. We need to throw some things not just at him but at their offensive line, their backs and their receivers. We've got to continue to mix things up. One thing with veteran guys - when you sit in one thing then it gets too comfortable for him, too easy for him. So you need to continue to try and throw different things at him and mix it up and make him work at it."

While many people assume that at 6-4, 240 pounds Foles would be a sure-fire first or second round pick like Luck and Barkley, I talked with Rob Rang, who projects Foles around the fourth or fifth round.

Why?

Arm strength.

"I just wonder if he’s a limited player," Rang said. "When I watch him, so much of the offense is predicated on short passing.  When he throws the ball deep, it’s a little flat."

Scouts have seen the same thing.

"They question his arm strength and he struggles with accuracy on the deep ball," Rang said.

Arizona has thrown a million bubble screens over the years, but this year under Seth Littrell, they are throwing the ball a bit more down the field. It will be interesting to watch.

In the story Foles, talked about the immaculate interception of Mason Foster in 2008. He wouldn't say much, only saying he can't change the refs ruling. But his teammates weren't afraid to talk about.

From the story

What happened: The Wildcats were leading Washington 33-28 with 2 minutes 49 seconds remaining in the game when quarterback Nick Foles checked from a run into a short passing play. Under pressure from UW defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, Foles rushed a throw to wideout Delashaun Dean. The pass appeared to skip off Dean's left cleat (above)and into the hands of linebacker Mason Foster, who returned it 37 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The call was upheld by video replay, and the Huskies won 36-33.

"That was bad, man," UA running back Keola Antolin said this week. "That was a bad call."

Upon further review … The Pac-10 Conference office confirmed the referees' ruling two days after the controversial call. Conference rules dictate there must be "sufficient, viewable camera angles that provide undeniable proof that a correction to the call is necessary."

That standard was not met.

"It's harder than convicting in a criminal trial, in a way," Dave Cutaia, the conference's director of officials, told the Star at the time. "To convict, you need to convince 12 people that it's beyond a reasonable doubt. To overturn a call, it has to be beyond all doubt."

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