Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez: Anu Solomon isn’t a lock to be the starting quarterback
For the first time in Rich Rodriguez’s tenure at Arizona, his starting quarterback is returning.
In 2012, Matt Scott was at the helm, but he was a senior. In 2013, it was another senior in B.J. Denker. Last year, redshirt freshman Anu Solomon started every game and most people believe he is going to be the starter again this season. But, Rodriguez said not so fast.
“I tell our guys, the starting lineup’s not going to be determined until the week of the first game, even if then,” Rodriguez told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “But, I think Anu knows the way we approach things, that if he slips and he doesn’t continue to get better, that somebody behind him is going to beat him out. I don’t see it happening because Anu is pretty competitive. It’s like Scooby Wright. Is somebody going to beat Scooby Wright out? Probably not, because Scooby Wright is not only a great player, but he’s a great competitor.”
Statistically, Solomon is the best quarterback Rodriguez has had since he joined the team in 2012. Not only did he have more completions (313), passing yards (3,793) and touchdowns (28) than his two senior predecessors, but he also led Arizona to its first 10-win season since 1998. After an efficient 15-for-21, two touchdown win against rival Arizona State to clinch the Pac-12 South division, all signs pointed to Solomon being a lock for the starting quarterback for a long time. But the next two games weren’t his best.
In the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon, Solomon got benched after completing six passes in 12 attempts for 34 yards in the 51-13 blowout. He was better in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State as he threw for 335 yards and had two total touchdowns, but he still threw two interceptions and took a sack on the Boise State 10-yard-line that allowed time to expire in Arizona’s 38-30 loss.
Besides Solomon, Jerrard Randall is the only quarterback on Arizona’s roster with any game experience. But that experience only entails three total pass attempts all of last season. So, barring a total collapse by Solomon in the next few months, it’s likely he will begin the season against UTSA on September 3 as the starter.
“It is good to have guys back, but it’s only really good if they come back better than from what they were,” Rodriguez said. “Anu had a pretty good year. He had some great moments, and he also had some freshman moments. But, I do think he’s going to be better because he’s bigger and stronger and he’s got some guys pushing him that are behind him and so that always helps. But, I think the biggest thing is we challenge all of our guys competitively to get better every year, every day and every time we practice, and I think he’s done that.”