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Rodriguez mum on Arizona QB roles after Tate’s record night vs. Colorado

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, left, reacts after getting tripped up before reaching the end zone on a long run by Colorado linebacker Rick Gamboa in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Boulder, Colo. Arizona won 45-42. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
LISTEN: Rich Rodriguez, UA Head Coach

Replay the record. The Arizona Wildcats have a quarterback controversy.

This time, it’s not about their current starter playing ineffectively.

Starter Brandon Dawkins left in the first quarter Saturday against the Colorado Buffaloes after taking a late hit along the sideline, but even though he was healthy enough to return, backup Khalil Tate remained in the game from that point on.

It probably had something to do with Tate, who won the Walter Camp National Player of the Week honor, piling up 327 rushing yards on Saturday, setting a record for a college quarterback and vaulting the Wildcats to a 45-42 win over the Colorado Buffaloes. Head coach Rich Rodriguez, joining Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, confirmed Monday that it was all about sticking with the hot hand.

Oh, and he’s not giving any tips to how he’ll handle the quarterback position for this Saturday’s game against UCLA.

“Oh, I know, but why tell everybody, right?” Rodriguez said. “I know I have some press things today. My standard reply will be, ‘We got two starting quarterbacks. I think they’re both pretty good. Tune in, come to the game Saturday night and we’ll find out.’

“(Dawkins) was banged up. Obviously had to go out a couple plays. While he was out, Khalil was playing so well and was really seeing the field and all that,” Rodriguez added. “I’m like, OK, we’ll just keep going. The idea was to play Khalil more anyway, even in the last few weeks. He wasn’t healthy. Hadn’t been able to practice much, hadn’t been able to throw much.”

A performance of 469 total yards and five touchdowns — on top of the record rushing yardage, Tate completed 11-of-12 passes for 142 yards and one score — would indicate Tate is plenty healthy.

That he only needed 14 carries to roll up 327 yards, however, is a credit to his talent, the scheme and the execution of it.

The Wildcats also doled out 22 rushes to its running backs for 72 yards in the zone-read attack, and none of them averaged more than Nick Wilson’s 3.8 yards per touch.

But Colorado, with its defensive backs playing mostly cover-0, struggled adjusting to Tate’s keeps, and Rodriguez liked the down-field blocking by his receivers that allowed a cut or two by the quarterback to turn into touchdown runs.

“They take a lot of pride in it,” Rodriguez said. “We got a lot of big runs because once you get through the first two levels, it’s man coverage and you’re either getting guys blocked or getting guys run off, and I think that created a lot of big plays for us.

“We didn’t play well defensively and very rarely had the ball. Certainly, Khalil gave a big boost,” Rodriguez added. “We knew he could run, but he ran even faster. He runs faster when he’s getting chased, I guess, like everybody else.”


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