With more injuries at QB, Rich Rodriguez says freshman QB Tate is ‘the guy’ right now
In 2014, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez had to believe he was going to avoid quarterback controversies for the foreseeable future.
Freshman quarterback Anu Solomon brought Arizona a 10-4 record, throwing for 3,793 yards, 28 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Two seasons later, Solomon’s sophomore and junior seasons have been injury-riddled, leading to three different quarterbacks spending time under center for Rodriguez besides Solomon.
In 2016, Solomon has thrown only 30 passes, all in the opening game of the season in an 18-16 loss to BYU.
Over a month later, Arizona is now 2-4, dealing with more injury issues after Solomon’s backup Brandon Dawkins exited the 36-23 loss to Utah on Saturday.
Rodriguez wasn’t ready to commit to a starter when asked by Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday, but Dawkins was replaced by the 17-year-old true freshman Khalil Tate, who Rodriguez called “the guy” right now at quarterback.
“I don’t know, obviously, Solomon’s been out, Dawkins is out, was out that game, so now we turn to the young guy, the 17-year-old true freshman, and right now he’s the guy,” Rodriguez said.
Dawkins’ injury had a big impact on the game according to Rodriguez.
“We certainly got banged up a little bit too and when we lost our quarterback (Brandon Dawkins), again, in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “That limits a little bit offensively what you are going to do.”
The sophomore Dawkins is much more adept running with the ball and making plays. On the season, he has nearly as many completions (69) as he does rushing attempts (63). He is currently the team’s leading passer (941 yards) and runner (484 yards).
Dawkins threw two interceptions in the loss to Utah, and Rodriguez noted he’s learning as he goes.
“He’s really competing well, he’s making some plays, but he’s making, I guess, some learning mistakes as well,” Rodriguez said. “He’s not as sharp at times as we want him to be, but we ask a lot of our guys.”
Rodriguez said the threat on the ground is the difference between Dawkins and Solomon when looking at a gameplan.
“How they will execute the plays is a little bit different,” Rodriguez said. “Dawkins is a competitive runner, Anu will run to throw, Dawkins will run to throw a little bit, but he’ll take off too and he has the ability to outrun some guys.”
Like Dawkins, Tate has had a similar look running the ball statistically, throwing only 17 passes in his debut season thus far while running the ball 25 times.
Rodriguez feels positive on the long-term potential at quarterback, but it was only two years ago when the same could have been said.
“Once we get everything cleaned up and (Dawkins) continues to get experience, as the same with Khalil Tate, we’re gonna be in a good spot there,” Rodriguez said.
Arizona is on pace for Rodriguez’s worst season in Tucson.
“I feel real good about the future, it’s just painful right now.”