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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Khalil Tate takes advantage of another opportunity in rough night for Arizona quarterbacks

Alex McIntyre
Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate (14) dives over Utah defensive back Boobie Dobbs (1) at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 8. The Wildcats lost to the Utes 23-36.

It was a tale of two halves for Arizona’s offense against No. 24 Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday night. After scoring on the first play of the game, the Wildcats’ offense was extremely hit-or-miss for the rest of the evening. 

The Wildcats led 14-3, but Utah went on a 26-0 run to break the game open. Quarterback Brandon Dawkins started the game hot with a 75-yard touchdown to wide receiver Shun Brown, but couldn’t find a rhythm for most of the night. He finished 11-for-20 for 243 yards and one touchdown to two interceptions before leaving with an injury in the second half.

Freshman Khalil Tate was forced to come into the game down by double digits—just like last week against UCLA—and work magic from behind center. He showed some flashes once again, but not enough to bring Arizona back from the large hole it dug itself. 

Tate finished 5-for-8 with 105 yards, one touchdown and an interception, while also running for 33 yards. He made some mistakes, such as the interception right to the defender, but Wildcats fans have to be happy with what they have seen from the young quarterback. 

Being thrown into the game twice on the road with no running game whatsoever—Tate is making the most of his snaps this season.

Arizona’s receivers played fairly well Saturday night, as they made some plays but were not consistent enough. Trey Griffey, Shun Brown and Samajie Grant combined for 11 catches and 284 yards with two touchdowns in the loss.

RELATED: Michael Barton shines in yet another Arizona football loss

Dawkins was forced to air it out as Arizona’s running game was still completely useless. Without running backs Nick Wilson and J.J. Taylor, Arizona’s offense was in down-and-distance situations all game, which forced the quarterbacks to make plays. 

The combination of Zach Green and Tyrell Johnson combined for 13 carries and 45 yards against Utah, as the running backs continue to disappoint. With Dawkins banged up, the running game averaged only 3.4 yards per carry and rushed for a long of 11. It is not often that a team has to rely on its fourth-string running back, and it was a glaring hole for this team.

Arizona’s offense is last in the conference in third-down conversions and that might not change anytime soon. The Wildcats have no running game and an extremely hit-or-miss passing game and their inability to sustain drives has been their Achilles heel all season. 

The Wildcats get a bye after next week’s game against USC, but Dawkins should probably sit that game out. He has been the most consistent part of Arizona’s offense but Tate can suffice for Arizona while he recovers.

RELATED: No. 24 Utah too much for Arizona football to maintain early lead, Wildcats fall to 2-4 on the season

Tate should be the starting quarterback until Dawkins is completely healthy. Whether Dawkins is better than Tate is debatable, but how many more hits can Dawkins take? He cannot make the spectacular plays we have been accustomed to with his rib injury. 

Rodriguez should let Tate get some more reps and experience while Dawkins gets healthy.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.

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