Versus: Solomon, Dawkins and Tate to challenge for quarterback starting role

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Zi Yang Lai and Zi Yang Lai | The Daily Wildcat Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins (13) runs downfield while alluding the ASU defense on Nov 21, 2015 at the Sun Devil Stadium.

Khalil Tate

When the 2016 football season rolls around, Anu Solomon may still be the starting quarterback, but the team should heavily implement Khalil Tate into the offense.

A four-star talent recruited by the likes of Florida State, USC, UCLA, and other high-profile schools, ESPN had Tate as the No. 16 best athlete in the nation and will join Arizona at just 17 years old.

Moreover, his high school implemented concepts from Rich Rodriguez’s offense so Tate already knows what Rodriguez expects from him and that should accelerate his development.

While Solomon may have improved statistically a little, there is a great possibility that he has maxed out his abilities. He did not build off of a successful 2014 campaign and was frequently benched for Jerrard Randall.

Despite returning most of the same receiving corps from 2014, Solomon seemed to be on a different page than them far too often during the season.

While Randall was not better than Solomon, he often sparked the offense and Tate could do the same thing and possibly build a rapport with the corps. The threat of Tate could also open up bigger holes for Nick Wilson as it forces one defender to key on Tate and take him out of running lanes.

While Kahlil Tate may not be ready to start early in the season, it is only a matter of time before the dual-threat is electrifying the Wildcats offense on quarterback keepers or bombs down the field. Tate may be the rawest of the three quarterbacks, but he also has the most upside and the Wildcats will need him in 2016.

Brandon Dawkins

As the quarterback race between the Brandon Dawkins, Anu Solomon and Khalil Tate is full swing, the uncertainty for the future of Arizona’s offense grows. Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith overlooks the competition every day in practice.

“We’re trying to make Anu and Brandon have a little bit more experience and be a little bit more fined tune to detail than what they’re trying to do,” Smith said. “A guy like Khalil, who’s brand new, he’s just trying to spell his name and spell it right.”

Smith will most likely take a shot in the dark as to which one will suit up against BYU in week one, but the options could change the culture of the team. It’s either Rodriguez chooses the veteran quarterback who has started for two seasons in Solomon or the raw four-star recruit in Tate. Solomon brings experience and Tate brings potential, but why not go with both?

Dawkins may be the change to the Wildcats that can take them another notch.

Dawkins had never seen true playing time until he was thrown in with the lions against ASU and nearly dug the Wildcats out of a 21-point deficit.

Dawkins threw for 305-yards and had three touchdowns in a game where he was also dealing with a stomach illness. Rich Rodriguez and Smith have to step back and recognize that Dawkins’ potential is high and controlling the tempo in a hostile environment was evidence against ASU.

Why not give him Dawkins the keys to the Ferrari formerly known as Arizona’s offense?

“To me he proved to us as a staff that we could count on him to come in and be ready to play,” Smith said. “It’s his job now to push this thing after Anu and make this thing a pretty stiff competition.”

Anu Solomon

Over the past two years, Anu Solomon has faced a number of successes and failures during his time as the starting quarterback. His redshirt freshman season brought many successes including an upset of then No. 2 Oregon, a win over Arizona State, a Pac-12 South title and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State.

Last year Arizona struggled, but despite this Solomon still had his moments where he played well. He finished the year with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. His first interception didn’t come until Arizona’s eighth game of the season. His QBR went up about 10 points from his previous year as well.

Solomon struggled with injuries, mainly two concussions that forced him to miss two and a half games as well as the end to the Utah game. At times he looked off when he came back, forcing head coach Rich Rodriguez to pull him and use Jerrard Randall instead.

However, Solomon should not be forgotten so quickly after his step back last year. There’s no doubt he can play, and if he can stay healthy he can do some serious damage.


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