- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the mood for a shot of irony to go with your afternoon latte?
Twice Arizona quarterback Matt Scott has been named a Manning Award star of the week. Now, guess who's not on the Manning watchlist?
Guess who commands the No. 4 total offense in the country? The No. 4 passing offense in the country? Guess who is second nationally in total offense, and fourth nationally in passing yards per game? If you answered Matt Scott, Matt Scott, Matt Scott and Matt Scott, you get a gold star.
Barring a complete meltdown the rest of the season, and even that might not be enough to derail him, Scott should be either the first- or second-team All-Pac-12 quarterback. But for all that he leads the league in statistically, he also leads the league in anonymity. Because no matter what this guy does on the field, folks are behind the curve to give him the credit he richly deserves.
"I didn't know he wasn't on that watchlist," said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez. "I don't even know how many guys they put on it. There are a lot of great quarterbacks in our league. But Matt has been really consistent, and everybody knows it. The key to our offense is the quarterback, and Matt, I think, has delivered in every game. Some games he's been better than others. But he's been absolutely phenomenal for us in his first and only year in this system. I think he's worthy of some mention on that list."
Of course, individual awards aren't the primary goal. The goal is to win the Pac-12 South. And the Wildcats can take another step forward when they travel to UCLA this weekend in a big separation game in the division. Should USC lose to Oregon this week and if Arizona tops the Bruins, all three teams will be 6-3 with Arizona holding the tiebreakers. Pending the outcome of Arizona State and Oregon State, we could see four teams at 6-3 atop the division -- meaning the Territorial Cup could determine the South champ.
But that's looking a little too far ahead. As the cliché goes, the Wildcats -- and their under-appreciated quarterback -- are taking it one game at a time.
“We just need to keep winning," Scott said. "We can lose respect really easy by losing a couple games here or there. So we just want to keep going, keep fighting, and try to get Ws. If we can do that, we’ll keep getting respect.”
And so will Scott -- who has proven to be one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country and a glove-fit for Rodriguez's offense. Scott has completed 62.9 percent of his throws for 2,724 yards with 20 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He's also rushed for 365 yards and four touchdowns -- including a 100-yard rushing game in the upset against USC last week. He ranks third among all FBS quarterbacks with 39 passes of 20 yards or more. Four of the top 10 individual performances in Arizona history now belong to Scott. No player in the Pac-12 conference is more valuable to his team.
Rodriguez said he's not going out of his way to get his guy national attention -- that's not the goal right now. But if he keeps it up, the attention will come.
"Like most coaches, I'm not too worried about it right now, because I know my players shouldn't be worried," Rodriguez said. "After the season, if you feel a guy needs some recognition or should get pumped up more, then you can do that. But during the season, I never believed you have to do that. Guys who see the film or watch the game should be able to see it for themselves. That's why I'm more surprised that more people haven't talked about Matt at that level. But if he keeps doing what he's doing, they won't be able to help themselves, because each and every week he's been phenomenal."