Pressure on Scott as UA implements offense

Published Mar. 31, 2012 6:01 p.m. ET

TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez readily acknowledges that how much the Arizona offense can do will be based on how much quarterback Matt Scott can handle.

"But Matt is grasping it as well as any first-year spring (quarterback) I've had," Rodriguez said Saturday after a scrimmage on campus. "I think it's because he's a veteran guy. He always has the fundamentals down and he's been coached well before. That part was easy. Now it's just a matter of learning the plays and learning the defenses."

Rodriguez admitted that Scott made some of the same mistakes he made in last week's scrimmage, but the coach is seeing progress not just in Scott but in the offense as a whole.

The expectation is for improvement in every practice as Rodriguez continues to implement his spread offense. At least Arizona is moving in the right direction, despite some of the frustrations of mistakes and missteps.

"It's about cleanup and execution," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he did think his team's scrimmage was better than last week's in Glendale in part because it was more physical. Conditioning is still a problem, but he'll take the small steps. It is, after all, only the spring.

And he offered some perspective.

"But then I have to step back and realize that this is the first time in this system and this terminology and we're trying to go fast," said Rodriguez. "Combining the tempo with all the new stuff, I think they've grasped it pretty well."

Even better, Rodriguez said, is that there's two more weeks before the spring practices are done.

Scott looked good at times Saturday and not so good at other times. He finished 13 for 20 for 224 yards and one touchdown.

"I'm starting to get more comfortable," Scott said. "I still have got a lot of stuff to work on though. I missed a few reads and things. I'll see how we go from there."

Scott, a 6-foot-3 senior and a backup to record-breaking QB Nick Foles for his first three years, is getting about the same amount of reps as last season but more of the first-team reps, he said. That's the difference.

He's being backed up by a thin group featuring Richard Morrison (a wide receiver who flipped to QB at the start of spring) and walk-ons Tyler D'Amore and Alex Cappellini. Morrison has been limited with a sore shoulder.

"I think (all the backups) are getting better," Rodriguez said. "I'm pleased with Matt because he's getting better. We've put so much in, he's getting a little bit of information overload, (but) he's grasping it pretty well."

Scott agreed but added that he feels things coming together. And he agrees that as he goes, so will goes the offense.

"That's how this offense is set up," he said. "It's built around the quarterback. If the QB makes good decisions, the offense will make good plays."

Right now, however, don't look for Scott to be running the ball much, even if teammates are instructed not to tackle him this spring.

"We'll still keep that run (game) in there, and he can run, but with the lack of experience there, we will probably protect him a little more," Rodriguez said. "Matt is most dangerous when he's out on the perimeter with the threat of run or throw

"Matt's a tough, competitive guy. If we need a quarterback to win a game, we'll run them a few times."

Of course. But this spring, not so much.