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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pick Six: Khalil Tate sees action; Paul Magloire Jr. ‘banged up’ for Arizona football

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Rebecca Noble

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate (middle) goes head-to-head with UCLA linebacker Jayon Brown (12) during Arizona’s 45-24 loss to UCLA at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016.

PASADENA, CALIF. — Arizona was routed by UCLA 45-24 Saturday night and the Wildcats fell to 2-3 on the season. This is the second consecutive season Arizona begins the Pac-12 Conference schedule without a conference win in the first two games.

Regardless of the performance the Wildcats displayed, there were some takeaways from the game that could benefit Arizona down the stretch. There were also a few ugly notes that could potentially keep Arizona out of a bowl game for the first time in the Rich Rodriguez era.

THE GOOD

The fresh(est) face at quarterback

Once Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins came out of the game with an apparent rib injury, head coach Rich Rodriguez first went to third-string Zach Werlinger. The redshirt sophomore threw five passes and didn’t complete one. Rodriguez then went to his freshman Khalil Tate, who was a 4-star recruit and played 30 minutes away from the Rose Bowl last year at Serra High School.

RELATED: Quarterbacks fight through injuries, struggle to keep Arizona football afloat in fifth straight loss to UCLA

Tate went 5-for-9 for 72 yards, was Arizona’s leading rusher with 79 yards and walked away with two passing touchdowns in his collegiate debut

“I thought he competed well,” Rodriguez said. “[Quarterbacks’ coach] Rod Smith has done a great job getting him a part of our offense to learn. When Anu [Solomon] was in, [Tate] was fourth and he was going to redshirt. The last couple weeks, [Tate has] gotten a few more reps just in case and we put him in there and I thought he made some plays.”

This year, Tate was just a number and a name on the depth chart that seemed irrelevant. But even he feels like the starting position is up in the air every week.

“Every week it’s anybody’s job and if you practice well then you’ll get your shot in the game,” Tate said.

Front seven is UA’s biggest strength

The change of the defensive front either adding another pass rusher on the line or at the linebacker position Saturday night was a concern.

Playing against a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft in Josh Rosen wasn’t going to be easy, but Arizona’s defense blitzed nearly every play and rattled the young quarterback early.

“He’s a relatively young quarterback and he played last year so he has some experience, but he’s a young quarterback and you just want to get after him,” Arizona linebacker Cody Ippolito said. “Our game plan was to hit him as many times as we can and get him scared.”


Linebackers and the defensive line flashed brilliance while pressuring Rosen. Even though the Wildcats couldn’t sack him, Rosen was on the ground for a great portion of the game.

Arizona is deep at the quarterback position

They say good things come in threes and Arizona’s quarterback position is three deep, but only one of them is 100 percent healthy and that’s freshman signal caller Khalil Tate.

UCLA harassed Dawkins the entire first half and Anu Solomondidn’t even travel with the team. But if all of the quarterbacks can get back to their usual form, Rodriguez will have a problem. And for once, it’s actually a good problem.

Whether it’s the more seasoned player in Solomon, the physical specimen in Dawkins or the young up-and-coming quarterback in Tate, all three players are capable of accomplishing big things at Arizona if they can stay healthy.

RELATED: Arizona quarterbacks try to hit stride despite injuries

THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Paging Paul Magloire

Arizona hybrid linebacker Paul Magloire Jr. was once viewed as the best defensive option for Rodriguez. With only two tackles against Grambling State, Magloire took a step back and has been MIA for the past two weeks.

Magloire did see the field in the first half and didn’t record a tackle, which led the defense to play without him in the rest of the way.


Rodriguez said Magloire was “banged up,” but Ippolito said it was all about a different approach in preparation for UCLA and that the only focus is on winning games.

“Just game plan,” Ippolito said. “As a player, you just have to respect it. … Yeah, it’s frustrating to him. I don’t talk to him like that. To me, it’s just football and I don’t really think about the NFL. I don’t care about the NFL right now or who’s going to the NFL. I just care about each game and getting through each week not getting injured.”

Special teams woes

UCLA’s average field position for each drive started at the 37-yard line. With the skill players the Bruins have, that was a recipe for disaster. Field position continues to destroy this Wildcats team, making difficult drives harder with the length, or lack thereof, that both sides need to cover.

“Our kickoff and kickoff return [teams] were just awful,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not like they’re not trying. It’s harder to kick it out here in lower elevation.”

Defensive backs are weak sauce

Rosen threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns. Most of that was due to the defensive backs’ lackluster performance.


Ten-yard cushions, lack of discipline and overall fundamentals are making this secondary look below average at best. Cornerback DaVonte’ Neal was targeted several times, missing on seemingly every throw his way.

“We just weren’t clicking like we were supposed to,” safety Tellas Jones said. “They played better and they deserved to win. We didn’t.”

UCLA’s dynamic duo in receivers Darren Andrews and Kenneth Walker combined for 222 yards and left cornerbacks Jace Whittaker and Neal on skates.


Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.


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