Friday, November 4, 2011
Nick Foles isn't looking back or forward
By Ted Miller
Don't cry for Nick Foles. For one, the Arizona quarterback isn't doing it for himself.
"There are a lot worse things I could be doing than playing football," he said. "It's a dream I'm living. I'm playing college football. I'm not going to take it for granted. No matter what, I'm going to enjoy it."
Sure, it's been a disappointing year. No team wants to be 2-6, especially one that's coming off three consecutive winning seasons. No team wants to see its coach fired.
Despite his team's 2-6 record, Nick Foles is having a strong season, completing 70 percent of his passes.
Well, we can't say that for sure, but Foles will say it about the termination of Mike Stoops on Oct. 10.
"It was shock. He put his heart and soul into this program," Foles said. "It is a business, but when something like that happens, it took me couple of days to let it sink in. It was tough. You lose your head coach and you're part of the reason you lose your head coach. I'm a player. I'm the quarterback. I didn't play well enough. Part of it goes on me. We have to take ownership of that, too."
Of course, Foles has played pretty darn well under tough circumstances. The Wildcats, who play host to Utah on Saturday, are bad on defense. They can't run the ball. The special teams have been awful. Foles, however, ranks third in the nation with 366.75 yards passing per game, which is on pace to set a new conference record. He also ranks 21st in the nation in passing efficiency, even though everybody knows he's the Wildcats' only weapon.
"He's had an outstanding season," interim coach Tim Kish said. "He's just a tremendous competitor. He's been a great leader for us. He's remained cool under a lot of pressure here."
It's been far from easy on anyone. On Nov. 6, 2010, the Wildcats headed to Stanford ranked 15th in the BCS standings with a 7-1 record. A 42-17 thumping, however, became the first of 10 consecutive defeats to FBS teams, a streak that didn't end until a 48-12 win over UCLA on Oct. 20. And that was too late for Stoops. And probably for the season.
"It definitely hasn't gone the way we wanted to," Foles said. "It's probably been the toughest year since I've played this game, since my first year of Pop Warner. But the team's really stuck together."
Foles has nothing bad to say about Stoops or anyone else at Arizona. It's fair to say he has been a good soldier during trying times. He said he uses a 24-hour rule: He has 24 hours to get over a defeat, then it's time to move on.
Speaking of moving on, Foles is certainly going to get drafted after rewriting the Arizona passing record book. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, NFL scouts are going to love his size and production. The way he has handled a bad situation this year also will speak to his makeup and leadership. If he has good workouts and a good combine, he could be a first-day pick.
But Foles has no interest in talking about his NFL future.
"I'm still playing," he said. "I've got four games left in the season and I expect to win these things. My future in this game is this Saturday, our next practice. That's how I've always approached it."
He then added: "After the season, when it's done, we'll see where my future is, and if I'm fortunate enough to keep going, that's what I'll do."
It's been a disappointing season. The NFL awaits. But Foles isn't looking back at what went wrong or forward to a big payday. Utah has his complete attention.