KELLY: Uneven QB play leads to an even race to start - Tucson News Now

KELLY: Uneven QB play leads to an even race to start

David Kelly likes to think he knows a little about what makes a good quarterback. David Kelly likes to think he knows a little about what makes a good quarterback.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona Wildcats scrimmaged on Saturday in front of several hundred family members and friends.

For me it was the second time I’ve seen the squad in an 11-on-11 situation.

Here are my takeaways on the quarterback battle only:

By now you’ve heard that Brandon Dawkins threw two interceptions.

That’s the story. 

Well that and Khalil Tate didn’t play due to a thumb ailment, which adds even more mystery to what’s going on with the quarterback position.

I can only tell you what I see and what I see is no clear front-runner in this race.

Dawkins will likely start the season.

He’s the most experienced and has wins on his record.

He got better after a shaky start that saw him picked by Antonio Parks, and by Jarrius Wallace on a ball that was deflected by Troy Young.

To Dawkins credit he threw a terrific touchdown late to Tyrell Johnson on a ball that zipped by the hands of Young.

But overall it was an uneven performance and certainly not one that separated him from the pack.

I came away from the first open session a few weeks ago impressed with Donavan Tate.

That did not change on Saturday. I like his decision-making.

He’s poised “in the pocket”. And I parentheses that because it’s one of my issues with Dawkins. He’s often fleeing the pocket.

I’m still not comfortable with Brandon’s ability to see the middle of the field.

There was one play where under direst, Donavan (for the sake of the fact there are two quarterbacks named Tate) calmly found a check down and got the ball in the hands of a playmaker (Johnson) for positive yards.

Then he zipped a beautiful potential touchdown ball to Zach Benjamin from 25 yards out, but Benjamin failed to get a foot in bounds.

Donavan is not ready though. 

Although I like what I’ve seen in the two sessions, he failed to make some throws on Saturday.

His accuracy still needs work.

And then there’s Rhett Rodriguez. 

He’s clearly not the best runner or the best thrower of this quarterback group, but he certainly gets it the most.

He understands where the ball is supposed to go. He grasps the center of the field.

I watch Rhett and the statement I continue to make to myself over and over is, “I’d love to see him with the 1s (first team)”. 

What might he be able to do if he had the top weapons around him?

If Rodriguez can make the intermediate throws, with this running game, he might be able to be an effective quarterback option because I don’t think Rhett is going to kill the offense with mistakes.

What he couldn’t do is much of anything when he had to face the first-team defense. Rodriguez's squad went three and out.

I think we can expect that he’ll redshirt.

Khari Lane’s best moment was a crisp slant throw to Tucson High’s Donovan Moore. The throw was on-point and then Moore did the rest for an impressive 25-yard gain.

So that’s it. Saturday will likely be the last time we (the media) get to see this team in a practice session.

Which brings us back to Khalil.

He didn’t stand out (to me) in the first open session two weeks ago and he didn’t scrimmage on Saturday.

But there’s this. I spoke with a UA Football parent during the event and this parent said to me, “Khalil Tate has been the best quarterback in Fall Camp. He can make all the throws and he’s more accurate than Dawkins.”

I can’t say that because I haven’t seen it but it seemed crystal clear to this particular parent, that Khalil has taken huge strides forward.

Forward enough to win the job? Rich Rodriguez will tell us a week from Monday.

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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