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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Anu Solomon may be the light at the end of the tunnel as Dawkins and Tate show no signs of life

Sydney Richardson
USC defense tackles Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate during Arizona’s 48-14 loss to USC on Saturday, Oct. 15 in Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona’s football season has officially come to the point where head coach Rich Rodriguez has no other choice but to install a third-string tight end at quarterback.

The whole “who is playing quarterback” scenario each week for Arizona is starting to become tiring and it’s not Rodriguez’s fault. His starter in Brandon Dawkins can’t stay healthy and his four-star freshman disappointed his debut as the starter, throwing for just 72 yards against USC on Saturday.

“He seemed okay during the week and at the beginning of the game, but there are times a 17-year-old freshman looks like a 17-year-old freshman,” Rodriguez said. “It was a challenge and a lot of the challenge is because they got some pretty good dudes over there.”

What’s truly bizarre is that in the grand scheme of the dumpster fire that is Arizona football, redshirt junior Anu Solomon is an after thought, but could actually be Rodriguez’s saving grace.

Remember after the BYU game when everyone, including myself, said that Solomon wasn’t the right fit for Arizona—that Brandon Dawkins deserves a shot to prove that he has more to his game than Solomon.

RELATED: The Rich Rod and Anu Solomon honeymoon needs to end for Arizona football

All of the mistakes Solomon made in that game, whether it was the two interceptions or just misreading routes, outsiders were so quick to point their finger at the junior quarterback. Whenever push comes to shove, it’s a natural habit for football fans to blame the struggles on the team’s quarterback.

“Everyone wants to point to the quarterback—‘it’s his fault’—and then maybe you don’t know all the factors,” Rodriguez said following Arizona’s opening loss to BYU in September. “Maybe there was a breakdown in the route or the protection or the play call. There’s always a lot of factors.”

Now that Arizona has been Solomon-less for six games, maybe Rodriguez was right not to judge his former two-year starter.

Solomon is like that annoying significant other where there is just something about them that makes the other half of the relationship sigh every time they’re together, but they appreciates each other’s value. The couple gets along just fine, but one half finds a way to knit pick the negatives. Once that person breaks it off and experiments other potential relationships, they realize, “damn, they weren’t all that bad in the first place.”

Sure, Solomon made mistakes and his development in three years appeared off track. So the conclusion was he wasn’t the right fit behind center. The argument made in the column following the BYU loss was that Rodriguez should break off the close ties with Solomon and give Dawkins a chance.

Although Dawkins proved his worth when he played this season—especially last week against Utah when he threw for 243 yards—he can’t stay healthy. Whether it’s his ribs or his concussions, Dawkins just can’t stay on the field. Which then brings up the battle between Solomon’s experience and Tate’s potential.

Going back to the start of the 2015 season and BYU game, Solomon has an average passing rate of 142.3 and while Khalil Tate has a passing rate of 146 over the span of three games. Remember this is comparing Solomon’s span of 12 games he played last year and this season’s opener while Tate’s passing rate is over just three games (one start).

Solomon averaged 222.3 passing yards in that 12-game stretch while Tate averaged 78 yards in his three games. So, there should be no question as to who the better passer is. 

RELATED: USC pulled the plug on Arizona football’s life support

Tate played the majority of the game against USC and only threw 18 passes. That’s an awfully low number considering how much the spread offense encourages quarterbacks to throw the football.

The thought going into the season was that the Wildcats were going to be deep at the quarterback position. And with injuries at every level and the freshman with a high ceiling not meeting expectations, Solomon may be that annoying significant other that didn’t seem so bad after all.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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