I remember it like it was yesterday, the 2010 match up against #9 Iowa was something I was lucky to witness. Like most 19 year olds at the time, I was focused purely on the pre-game aspect. Tucson has a lot of people who love to party, so tailgating was always a fun thing to partake in before kickoff. This evening however, there was a lot of fans from Iowa, which I thought odd considering Iowa was no where near Arizona. They (the fans) were running their mouths the two hours prior to the game, and i'm not talking the other 19 year olds. Fully grown adults, probably retired, all covered in blue and yellow paint shouting at us 'dumb' Wildcats fans. I wasn't huge on college football at the time so I was unaware of how good that team really was.
As I (slowly) made my way into the stadium I snuck into the student section with the other AZ fans, which to me felt like Nicholas Cage stealing the Declaration Of Independence considering I was attending Community College at the time. The game started, and barely five minutes into the game the 'Cats already had 14 points. One off a pick-six, and another off a quick pass in the red-zone from Foles fueled by a blocked punt. The next quarter, Arizona put up 13 points, none from an offensive score. I was starting to wonder what was wrong on offense, because clearly the defense was holding the team together. Who the hell was this long-haired California boy orchestrating barely enough to hold his own? Heading into halftime, they were up 27-7, no thanks to the QB play. Could the defense keep up the work long enough to fend off a top 10 contender?
Not so much. Iowa came back to score 20 unanswered points to tie the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Arizona had a chance to put the game away. With under eight minutes remaining, Foles put together a mythotical 10 play, 75 yard drive en route to a 3rd-and-goal pass TD with a little over four minutes reamining. The stadium erupted as the team took a seven point lead. The game wasn't over, but the momentum shifted all thanks to that long-haired California boy. The defense did what they had to as they stalled the Iowa offense enabling Foles and his offense to run out the clock. Most people gave credit to the defense, but I clearly remember watching that last AZ offensive drive in awe, we all knew he going to score.
Nick Foles' career at the University Of Arizona has been marked by big games and incredible stats. He was rarely surrounded by playmakers (thanks, Gronk) but he still showed incredible promise. He threw for nearly 400 yards against Chip Kelly's Ducks in 2011, which led Kelly to say "I'm glad Nick Foles is graduating." That year the Senior compiled a Pac-12 leading 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns. Heading into the draft, Foles would never have to buy himself a drink in the city of Tucson again.
Heading into the second half of his third year in the Pros, Nick Foles is now a nationally known name; whether if it's because his play or his disturbing resemblance to Napolean Dynamite. His return to Arizona will be one marked not by his college play, but by his play so far this season. He's no where near where he was last season, as he's more than doubled his INT total from 2013. However those who know Foles know to not count him out of the game yet, his team is 5-1 after all.
The Arizona Cardinals will promise to provide on hell of a matchup as they too are 5-1 and have a top 10 defense. Their defensive line has been shaken up, but their secondary has never been stronger. When Antonio Cromartie is your 'worst' starting CB, you have a great problem. Nick Foles will be tested early and often and it will be up to him to lead the Eagles to victory. He needs to improve his accuracy and work on his timing with receivers. He (and the defense) played great before the bye-week but there were clearly still areas to improve upon, on every side of the ball.
Nick Foles is a workhorse, and if there's anything i've learned about him after five years of watching him, it's that he doesn't let anything bring him down. No matter his record at Arizona, he played like a mad-man making play after play. During his rookie year with the Eagles he kept making plays despite only racking up only one win. He isn't afraid to make mistakes because he knows he has what it takes to be a winner. 2013 we saw that, and 2014 we have continued to see it. Yes he's shown he's human this year, but more than anything, he's showed that he will never give up.
Follow P.J. on Twitter @PJbleedsgreen