KELLY: Tate is a work in progress

The Heisman Trophy candidate’s growth does not get a passing grade in two opening losses

KELLY: Tate is a work in progress
Khalil Tate's passing ratios are down through the first two games (Photo courtesy: AP).

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Last season Khalil Tate completed 63% of his passes.

This season that number is down to 52%.

If you look back at last week’s loss to Houston, if Tate was completing passes at the level he did in 2017 he would have completed four more passes in the loss to the Cougars (28 vs. 24).

I’m going to show you two plays where I felt he could have made better decisions and one where I thought he was on point.

On this 2nd quarter 2nd and 10, Tate has three primary receivers to choose from Devaughn Cooper (1), Shun Brown (2) and Shawn Poindexter (3).

After the play starts it’s clear Tate wanted to go to his slot receiver Brown (2), but he appears to be scared off by the close presence of the linebacker (B).

The question is why didn’t he go another progression here and make the throw to Poindexter, who has a clear seven yards between him and his defender.

((Photo courtesy: ESPN))

A good quarterback can make this decision and this throw.

Poindexter gets you minimum five yards and probably could have turned and fallen for two-three and now you’re in a 2nd and short situation versus 2nd and 10.

Tate ended up throwing the ball away on this play.

Then in the 3rd quarter on a 3rd and 11, Tate has a four-receiver set with J.J. Taylor coming out of the backfield.

The Cougars on this play rushed four, blitzed their middle linebacker and dropped everyone else into coverage.

Tate has a wide open dump down to Taylor whose nearest defender is 10 yards away but again he threw the ball away.

((Photo courtesy: ABC/ESPN))

Yes the pocket is collapsing on him thanks to the dynamic Ed Oliver but this is still a play he could have made and at least given Taylor a chance with a lot of open real estate to make a man miss.

Late in the 3rd quarter down 38-3, he did what I thought was a great job of working his progressions to complete an 18-yard pass to Tony Ellison.

He had Ellison (2) and Stan Berryhill (1) in man-coverage with Berryhill being his initial look.

(Photo courtesy: ABC/ESPN)

Tate did an excellent job of pump-faking off the run-fake and then holding his look at Berryhill long enough to freeze the nickel back (N) allowing Ellison to come open in the middle.

(Photo courtesy: ABC/ESPN)

That’s a quarterback play and that is what he needs to repeat more to be successful.

Tate needs to make these growth steps in the passing game for the UA to have any chance of winning big this season.

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