Tate, Dawkins, Solomon: Thoughts on Arizona's QBs - Tucson News Now

Tate, Dawkins, Solomon: Thoughts on Arizona's QBs

Khalil Tate (Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics) Khalil Tate (Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

I hopped in my time machine and took a short trip to Rich Rodriguez's press conference on Monday.

Media: How are Brandon Dawkins ribs?

RichRod: When does the injury report come out? Thursday, right?

Media: Will Khalil Tate start this week at Utah?

RichRod: Game starts at 7 ... we'll find out at about 6:59.

Media: Will Anu Solomon be available soon?

RichRod: If I knew, why would I tell you?

I'm not sure Arizona's season is going anywhere good anytime soon -- my time machine can't make leaps that far -- but there won't be a lack of things to ponder, especially this week.

Solomon has missed four consecutive games because of a knee injury suffered in practice, and Rodriguez hasn't offered a clue as to when he'll be back. Dawkins exited the 45-24 loss at UCLA on Saturday night with some sort of problem with his ribs.

At halftime, Rodriguez ripped the redshirt off Tate and put the true freshman into the game in the third quarter after walk-on Zach Werlinger gave it a good effort but showed he wasn't going to be able to move the offense.

The decision to play Tate set off a wide range of opinion.

It was a mistake to burn a year of eligibility.

No, it wasn't, Tate should start!

It's impossible to know the right answer unless you know how much longer Solomon and Dawkins will be out. Presumably, RichRod had a good idea when he inserted Tate into the game. Perhaps the coach will spill all the beans Monday.

We'll see.

Several thoughts:

--I never got the impression Tate was a legit option in what Rodriguez called an open competition at quarterback in the offseason. And not in a "He's really good, but we have to save his year of eligibility" kind of way, but more like "He's not ready yet."

--The media doesn't get to see any practice during the season, and has merely limited views during camp, but, at that time, Tate's arm didn't look accurate or consistent.

--But what Tate did Saturday night was impressive. He's not a blazer, but he's a put-together 17-year-old (yes, he's still 17, so let that sink in) who he runs like an 18-wheeler. He has the strongest arm on the team, no question. The touch he displayed was top-notch. As the announcers like to say, he has "arm talent."

--On the other hand, maybe all that should just be filed under "small sample size."

--On the other, other hand, maybe he's a "gamer."

--For the record, he ran 15 times for 79 yards, and he completed 5 of 9 passes for 72 yards and two scores.

--I see a lot of comments about how Tate should start because he's the future. And Dawkins isn't? He's a redshirt sophomore with a lot of road ahead of him. It was just a week ago that he was ripping off three plays of 50-plus yards against Washington.

--If at least one of Dawkins and Tate is healthy, have we seen the last of Solomon?

--The odds of all three being on the team next season, along with touted freshman Braxton Burmeister coming in (as well as Rodriguez's son, Rhett) might not be "none," but I'd put those odds at less than "slim."

--Note that Rodriguez said after the game that Tate was able to run a "limited package." Dawkins' superior time in the system is an important edge, and quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said a couple of weeks ago that "Brandon has started to really come on mentally."

--Tate was leading the votes in a poll at allsportstucson.com, which asked, "Who should start at QB if everyone is healthy?"

--Now that Tate can't redshirt, doesn't it make sense to use him every game, if not start him?

--Rodriguez might regret using this year of eligibility for Tate, but I doubt it. Coaches almost never think that far in advance. The upshot is that Tate won't be eligible at Arizona in 2020. Will RichRod even be here then? Would Tate even stay that long? So many things could happen in the interim; if Tate can help RIGHT NOW, then play him. And, based on postgame comments, Tate was fine with it.

A lot of unknowns.

And, really, there is no good way to predict this future.

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