It took a while for Arizona coach Mike Stoops to warm to the idea, but it appears that he's seriously considering redshirting backup quarterback Matt Scott next year, according to the Tucson Citizen, which cited a radio interview with Jody Oehler.
The idea is Nick Foles starts in 2011, stays healthy and heads to the 2012 NFL draft, while leaving behind an experienced backup in Scott who can take over the job the next fall.
Foles will be one of the nation's top senior quarterbacks this coming season, so it's unlikely that Scott, also a senior but with a redshirt year available, would beat him out. But Scott proved in 2010 that he can play at a high level when he stepped in while Foles was injured. In fact, more than a few fans wanted to see more of Scott, who can make things happen as a runner, even when Foles was healthy.
Of course, you know what they say about your best laid plans? As the Citizen article notes:
Some of the guidelines might still have to be established. If Foles were injured, how long would he have to be out for Arizona to consider activating Scott? The Wildcats’ plan is to use senior Bryson Beirne as the backup in 2011. Can he handle the job for a half? For a game? Two?
How late in the season would be the point of no return for taking Scott out of his redshirt?
Put it like this: Say Foles gets hurt in Game 5 at USC. The severity of his injury is unknown. The Wildcats lead by three heading into the fourth quarter.
If the plan in place is to redshirt Scott, that means Beirne would be getting second-team reps in practice ahead of Scott. So you'd think Beirne would be the guy to try to shepherd home a critical road victory against a South Division foe.
Or would Stoops go with Scott, a more talented, experienced player, no matter the practice work? And then what if Foles is ready to go the next week?
In other words, it's an idea that makes sense but requires crossed fingers.
Know, however, that it has worked: Oregon played quarterback Darron Thomas as a true freshman in 2008 and then redshirted him in 2009, which looks like it will turn out great for the Ducks. Of course, the situations aren't the same. The Ducks had veteran Nate Costa backing up Jeremiah Masoli in 2009, and Costa even started and won at UCLA. The Wildcats don't have the same luxury at the position, though it does help that true freshman Daxx Garman is enrolled and will participate in spring practices.
It will be a situation worth watching this spring. Certainly it would help if Beirne -- or Garman? -- steps up and shows his coaches that he can be a reliable backup.