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No concussion, says Arizona's Matt Scott, who's set for UCLA

Wildcats Coach Rich Rodriguez grows weary of the medical rumors about his quarterback, who will take on the Bruins a week after 39-36 win over USC.

November 02, 2012|By Chris Foster
  • USC's Dion Bailey, left, delivers a helmet-to-helmet blow to Arizona quarterback Matt Scott during the fourth quarter of the Wildcats' 39-36 victory over the Trojans on Saturday.
USC's Dion Bailey, left, delivers a helmet-to-helmet blow to Arizona… (Mike Christy / Arizona Daily…)

Matt Scott is alive and apparently well.

The Arizona quarterback briefly became the topic of national discussion this week, but not for the mega-yards he has accumulated or the marquee 39-36 victory over USC last Saturday that may have revived his football team's season.

People were talking instead because Scott took a hit to the head before he vomited on the field late in the USC game. Following a timeout, Scott then threw what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown pass. Reports circulated that he had suffered a concussion but continued to play anyway.

"I really don't think I had a concussion," Scott said at his regularly scheduled media conference two days later. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona's coach, became so irritated that he stopped answering questions about Scott's condition.

"Someone came up to me on campus the other day and said, 'Hey, I heard you had to leave the game in an ambulance,'" Scott said, laughing, in a telephone interview later in the week. "I said, 'What?' I drove home from the game. All kinds of rumors got around. You can't stop rumors."

Or Scott, it seems.

In hindsight, all the concussion talk might have been the perfect distraction.

Arizona moved back into the Associated Press rankings at No. 24 this week and plays 25th-ranked UCLA Saturday at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins are 6-2 overall and 3-2 in Pac-12 Conference play. The Wildcats are 5-3 and 2-3.

Scott said he will be in the lineup. The hubbub earlier in the week had him answering questions about his health rather than a performance against USC that is best put in the rearview mirror.

"When people talk about the Pac-12, they talk about those guys," Scott said. "It means a lot to beat them. It's an important victory." But the next game, Scott knows, is almost always trouble.

"You see it a lot, a team gets a big win and then loses," Scott said. "Then people start talking how you got lucky."

Scott, who played at Corona Centennial High, wasn't allowed to bask in the USC victory amid the whirlwind about his health. His focus zeroed in on UCLA.

And as Scott goes so go the Wildcats.

Arizona started fast, winning its first three games against spotty competition. Then came losses to Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford, all ranked teams.

The Wildcats were dismissed. Scott's impressive numbers were viewed as a product of Rodriguez's gimmick offense. Scott has 2,724 yards passing and is fourth nationally, averaging 340.5 yards per game. He also has 365 yards rushing.

"Rich wants his quarterback to get the ball out quickly and make good decisions," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said. "This kid does that, plus he can run. I knew he was putting up good numbers, but after watching film his accuracy is uncanny."

Others have yet to be so impressed. Midseason "watch lists" for quarterback awards omitted Scott.

"That surprises me," Rodriguez said. "But if he keeps doing what he's doing they won't be able to help themselves. The recognition will come."

The USC game nudged it along. Scott threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, rallying the Wildcats from a 28-13 second-half deficit. He threw for 369 yards and ran for 100, but that didn't become the postgame buzz.

The heightened concern about concussions in football led to questions about whether Arizona medical personnel and coaches acted properly.

Scott said he became sick because he was winded. Rodriguez said the team's trainers and medical staff "extensively" examined Scott during and after the game.

"There was a lot concern because of the nausea," Rodriguez said. "Truth is, when he runs a lot he gets sick. The guys said it happened all the time during summer workouts."

So it was back to business, which suddenly is good.

"This guy is the real deal," UCLA cornerback Sheldon Price said. "We're going to have our hands full."

Rodriguez came to Arizona last winter, bringing with him an aerial squirrel derby that worked well at West Virginia but failed at Michigan. Waiting was the perfect director in Scott, a senior who sat out last season while NFL prospect Nick Foles guided the Wildcats.

"I knew this offense fit me pretty good," Scott said. "I couldn't wait."

It was harmonic convergence that can make opponents feel a little queasy.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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