Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/16/11
TUCSON Nick Foles gets it. He gets what it's like to be a major-college athlete, a competitor, a record-breaking quarterback and a key player in this week's game with Arizona State. In fact, he gets the rivalry. Heck, he embraces it, having played in two before and is 1 and 1 into Saturday night's game. "You don't really need any extra stuff for this game, it's ASU versus Arizona," said UA QB Foles earlier this week. "I don't dwell on anything." Then, in the same, breath says, "I've never liked them. I hate them, so that's all I need to go play against them." And this from a guy who committed to play to ASU under then-coach Dirk Koetter. Hey, allegiances change. Divorces happen. "Exactly," he said, on Tuesday night reconfirming his dislike. "I just don't like them. You respect everyone, but they don't like me as a player and us as a team. But that's what makes a rivalry. That's what is fun about it." If the party hasn't already started, it sure will on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium. If it's anything like the last meeting, it's going to be a wild and crazy night and Foles will be among the center pieces. Foles said it was one of his tougher losses while at Arizona, recalling a late-game interception that didn't help UA's cause in the 30-29 double-overtime loss. Foles said he doesn't sleep very much after a loss and didn't that late November night a year ago. He even broke his "24-hour rule" of living and learning and getting over a loss. "That loss took a little longer to get over," he said. "It was the last game of the (regular) season so I had more time to think about it. It was tough. But I have no regrets. I never have any regrets." Why would he? He passed for 266 yards and three touchdowns. The total yards are almost pedestrian when compared to other big games he's had through the years. Three-or-more touchdown games have come more than 11 times in his career, one that has been unmatched by any UA quarterback in the history of the program. "There have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs," he said, "But I've grown as a player and a person." His legacy? By the numbers, he'll be the best UA has had (probably). By victories, well, not so much. This year UA is 2-8. "I feel confident and I feel good, but it just hasn't been the year I thought it would be winning wise," he said. Arizona interim coach Tim Kish said this season "isn't on Nick and clearly record isn't." "I just hope he can go out with a couple of wins here at the end," Kish said. "I do know he'll give it everything he's got." And that may be the thing most will remember him by. He's got a gritty and gutty edge to him. Some parts John Wayne (a unspoken presence and swagger), some parts John Elway (savvy, arm, tough) and some parts Ashton Kutcher (a disheveled cool). And although he's been knocked down and out of a few games in his career, he's always come back. This year, he's played more than ever, although he has seemingly picked himself off the floor more often, too. That's what ASU coach Dennis Erickson admires. "Just how he plays, not just as a playerwe all know how good of a player he is," Erickson said. "He's so accurate and has command of the game, but to me, it's toughness. He's so tough mentally and physically. You don't see that a lot. To me, that's where I respect him. He gets hit, he keeps getting up and he keeps making plays. To me, he's a very special football player." It's helped him become Arizona's all-time passing leader, moving past Willie Tuitama in yardage (9,289). He also has school records in completions (865), pass attempts (1,301) and total offense (8,995). He's thrown at least one touchdown and for 200-plus yards in the last 15 consecutive games, and 200 yards in 20 of the last 21 games. Heading into Saturday's game, he's averaging a Pac-12 Conference best 361.2 yards a game, fourth in the nation among major colleges. The numbers don't surprise Kish. "He's a quality quarterback and understands the game," Kish said. "For him to have the kind of year he's had doesn't surprise me at all." After all, first and foremost, Foles, is a competitor. He hates to lose. Admittedly, it may be a reason why he has struggled a bit recently, throwing eight interceptions in the last three games trying to make something out of nothing. "He's sorting himself out right now," Kish said. "He's trying to get a grip on what he wants to get accomplished. Nothing is more important to Nick Foles than helping his team be successful and win football games." Kish said Foles is a "perfectionist, maybe to a fault." "And sometimes he puts his team on his back and sometimes it's a little more than he needs to be," he said. "It's hard to harness that when you're a competitor." When asked if he may be pressing too much, he quickly said, "I'm playing hard. There's stuff that breaks down back there. If something breaks down, it's my job to make the play. I do what's necessary."
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