After getting blown out at UCLA, Arizona (2-3) now faces a Utah (4-1) team coming off its first loss of the season, a last second defeat at Cal. Arizona was actually tied 7-7 with the Bruins and playing well before starting quarterback Brandon Dawkins went down with what is believed to be a rib injury. After that injury and several lackluster drives led by sophomore Zach Werlinger, Rich Rodriguez made the decision to burn Khalil Tate’s redshirt and insert him into the game, beginning with the second offensive drive of the third quarter for Arizona. Tate proceeded to set the field on fire, even if the end result was a 21 point defeat. He finished 5/9 passing for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns, while carrying the ball 15 times for 79 yards while producing 17 points for the Wildcats in just under a half. It should be noted that while Tate is still just 17 years old, but his future looks bright. Now, travelling to Salt Lake City to take on the Utes, who will play quarterback is the biggest of many questions facing the Wildcats.
The starting quarterback this week is going to be one of either Anu Solomon, Brandon Dawkins, or Khalil Tate. Solomon has been out with a knee injury since the season opener and it remains to be seen if Dawkins will be fit to go this week. Even if both are healthy, with Tate being a prized recruit and now having burned his potential redshirt, Rich Rod will have a very tough decision to make this week at the quarterback position. Elsewhere, Arizona is down to one healthy scholarship running back, Zach Green. First string RB Nick Wilson left Saturday’s game with yet another injury. Going back to last year, Wilson has now either missed or left (due to injury) 11 of the past 13 Arizona games. WR Tyrell Johnson, who was banged up some Saturday, looks to receive the bulk of the RB snaps moving forward. WR Samajie Grant even saw some plays from the RB spot against UCLA.
With Utah not being a heavy passing offense, the matchup is an interesting one for Arizona. Arizona’s secondary has routinely been torched this season, even against run first offenses. Against one of Arizona’s biggest weaknesses, Troy Williams and the Utes will likely to try to spread the ball around and push it downfield through the air. Arizona on the other hand, if Dawkins or Tate is playing, will use those two quarterback’s dual-threat abilities to try to keep the chains moving on the ground and get enough points on the board to potentially pull off the upset. With Arizona getting dangerously close to a “nothing to lose” point of the season, don’t be surprised if Rich Rod hands the keys of the offense to Khalil Tate this week.