Matt Scott has the Wildcats pointed in the right direction.
Photo by Chris Morrison/US Presswire

Oregon State coach Mike Riley. Grover Cleveland. John Travolta. Bristol and Levi.

Second chances are rare. Making them work is even rarer.

Arizona Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott did more than anyone could have expected in the first game of his second stint as a starter. Three hundred total yards, six touchdown drives, and one huge W.

It was like watching a brand new offense, which is a big credit to the coaching staff. We’ve seen teams make major adjustments in preparation for a bowl game or even during a bye week, but in just six days? I can barely change my mind in six days.

Scott made a lot of people change their minds.

I’ll be the first to admit I underestimated Scott as a passer. I figured the Cats would have trouble sustaining any kind of aerial attack but instead fans were treated to an honest-to-goodness dual threat from a dual-threat quarterback.

The junior was connecting on throws he couldn’t make last year. The first TD was a rollout to the left and a beautiful toss on the run. Last year that would’ve landed six yards in front of the receiver. On the swing passes and receiver screens Scott was hitting people in stride instead of throwing it behind the receiver and killing the play.

Passes like that have nothing to do with the quality of the opposing defense. If you can’t throw when running left it doesn’t matter if you’re on the field by yourself. Washington’s bad defense can’t take full credit for the Wildcats’ 467 yards of total offense. It’s the result of good coaching and a backup quarterback continuing to work hard. I don’t know what UA QB coach Frank Scelfo makes but he’s already proven to be worth every penny.

A ton of credit also goes to the Arizona offensive line. I threw down the gauntlet on Friday and they responded with their best game of the year. Running lanes? To the tune of 234 rushing yards. Pass protection? Scott was only sacked once. Penalties? The entire offense only drew four flags for 20 total yards. That’s a great way to score 44 points.

The good news started before the game. It was very surprising to see Nick Foles take part in the coin toss. Not because he was out there (anyone seeing him here knew he would be visible on the sideline) but because he was in uniform. In full pads. With his helmet on.

Then when you saw Foles jog off the field without a noticeable limp you thought, “Wait a second, why isn’t this guy playing?” It was a very encouraging display from the UA captain.

What does Mike Stoops do with his quarterbacks now? First he rejoices that he has two guys who can win a game in the Pac-10. Then he should start Matt Scott against UCLA no matter what.

If Foles is somehow cleared to play I would consider giving him a series or two in the second half shake off the cobwebs but that’s it. Target the Stanford game for Foles’ return as the starter.

And Foles should return as the starter, no question about that. Let’s put any QB controversy to rest right now. Nick Foles is an NFL prospect and Arizona doesn’t get too many of those at the quarterback position. Foles needs to start and play the majority of the game whenever he’s healthy.

But Matt Scott should play too.

Not in a “He deserves it,” or an “Everybody gets to bat in t-ball” kind of way. The kid reminded everyone he has some skills and the uniqueness of those skills makes him a wasted weapon when he sits the entire game.

This isn’t a positive knee-jerk reaction to a single game. It’s something that should have happened all along this season. It’s what we thought would happen.

It looked like it was happening when Scott came into the Toledo game. The timing was odd (backed up against his own end zone) but it wasn’t a surprise to see him in the game, and then he disappeared for a month.

It’s not going to be another month before he plays again.

Up until this point Matt Scott was just another name on an endless list of guys who got beat out. He was a running back in a quarterback’s body. He was a guy with a bunch of silent T’s in his name.

Then he got a second chance. Now, for the second time, he’s undefeated for the first time.

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