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Wednesday, September 14, 2011
No good proxies for Luck, Foles

By Kevin Gemmell

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- At least the guys across the border are struggling with the same problem. How do you mimic an elite quarterback and give your defense a somewhat accurate account of what they will be facing on Saturday? When no prolific proxy can be found, what can you do?

Nick Foles
Through two games, Nick Foles has gone 71-of-93 for 810 yards with six touchdowns and no picks.
While Arizona coach Mike Stoops is pondering how to simulate Andrew Luck, Stanford coach David Shaw is asking himself a similar question. How do you simulate Nick Foles in practice?

He can’t use Luck.

“Andrew can’t take that many throws in a week,” Shaw said.

Isn’t there anyone else?

“We have three, four-star quarterbacks. None of them is where Foles is,” Shaw said. “We’ve got some good guys that hopefully can give our defense a good look.”

Foles enters Saturday’s Pac-12 opener against the Stanford Cardinal as one of the most accurate passers in the country. He leads the nation in completions per game, and he’s far and away the best quarterback the Cardinal have faced to date. And he might be the best they see all season.

So it’s easy to see why Shaw was heaping praise on the Arizona signal-caller.

“In all of my years of evaluating quarterbacks, the best ones make quick decisions, have a quick release and throw the ball accurately,” Shaw said. “And he does all of those things. He does it repeatedly and he’s been doing it for years. Hopefully, he’ll start getting the credit he deserves because he’s a heck of a football player.”

He’s also chummy with Luck. The two have spent time together at several camps.

"Nick's a great guy," Luck said. "I got to know him at the Pac-12 media day and I didn't know this, but we lived 20 minutes apart for a couple years in Austin. He's a great guy and I wish him the best in everything he does."

What about this weekend?

"For one day, I guess we're not friends," Luck said with a laugh.

Getting to Foles will be a top priority for a Stanford defense that is tied for 14th in the nation in sacks. Conversely, Arizona has allowed their guy to be sacked just twice in two games.

Meanwhile, Stoops is trying to figure out how to make Luck uncomfortable in the pocket.

"He has great pocket presence," Stoops said. "He gets good depth on all of his drops and they do a good job for him in the pocket. It's hard to do. He seems to feel his way around there and find open throwing lanes. He's one of the best pocket guys I've seen in a long time."