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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona Football: QBs lead the team, others M.I.A

Rebecca Noble

Arizona receiver Shun Brown (6) fumbles the ball shortly before making a quick recovery as Arizona trails UCLA 14-7 in the first half at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. 

PASADENA, CALIF. — To the surprise of anyone that follows Arizona football, the only consistent playmaker for the Wildcats has been the quarterback position.

Dawkins contributed on the ground but the tandem of Nick Wilson and Tyrell Johnson was underwhelming at the Rose Bowl. With Dawkins hobbled by injury, Khalil Tate was the offenses most consistent threat as he tried to lead an Arizona back.

Once Dawkins was ruled out with a rib injury, Zach Werlinger proceeded to miss all five of his passes before he was replaced with Tate.

For most of this season, the Wildcats could lean on a superior running game when the passing game went stale but that was not the case. When Tate was brought in for Werlinger, he gave the Wildcats a bit of a lift but it was too little too late. The fourth-string duo of Tate and running back Zach Green led Arizona down the field and that is what Arizona’s offense has come to. Tate was 5-9 for 72 yards and two touchdowns and seemed to get better as the game progressed against UCLA. He also ran the ball 15 times for 79 yards as he was not sacked and did not turn the ball over Saturday.

“Every week coach Smith preaches competition and that you are one snap or two snaps away so I knew to be ready,” said Tate.

While Dawkins and Tate have been relatively effective at quarterback, they are taking a beating under center. Instead of sliding down, they are looking to initiate contact and gain a couple of yards and that has to stop. With Nick Wilson and Anu Solomon down, a team searching for playmakers will be down one more if they continue to take a beating.

Since the quarterback and running back position has been hit by injuries, the receivers have been healthy but not helpful. A lot of the throws their way were inaccurate but they did not play at a high level Saturday.

Shun Brown again was Arizona’s top receiver as the sophomore had four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Arizona’s offense has come down to the quarterback either scrambling or hitting Shun Brown down the field. The receiving trio of Samijae Grant, Nate Phillips, and Trey Griffey has been quiet in what is becoming a common theme this year. They combined for five catches for 63 yards and a first quarter touchdown by Grant but did little else throughout the game.

Other offensive players may make a play every now and then but for the most part, it is a two person offense. J.J. Taylor looked to be that consistent third player but he could not stay healthy.

As UCLA showed, if you stack the box and punish the quarterback when he takes off, you can have success against the Wildcats. Their quarterbacks may beat you through the ground but the hits they take will add up as the game progresses. With Nick Wilson and now Dawkins hampered by injury, Tate will have to lead this team and fast.

Follow Ivan Leonard on twitter.

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