Arizona football: Anu Solomon, Brandon Dawkins set for fall quarterback battle
At this point in the year last spring, Arizona football was riding high and mighty coming off a Pac-12 Conference South division championship and a Fiesta Bowl appearance.
Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon also had a secure job and was viewed as a returning leader.
This year, the quarterback role is a smidge different, and that’s all thanks to the late impressions from redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez now has a true issue on his hands. Who should he choose as his starting quarterback?
It’s equivalent to asking a parent who their favorite child is, except the only difference is the child positively brings something to the table that the other can’t. After Dawkins threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns, as well as running 78 yards for a touchdown with a stomach illness against ASU, it would just be flat-out ignorant for the coaches not to give Dawkins a chance at taking over the keys of the Arizona Ferrari offense.
It’s the potential of Dawkins in one corner matching up against Solomon’s experience in the other corner, and the quarterback competition may be more intense than years past.
“It’s truly open than maybe the perception from this time a year ago,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not because Anu slipped; it’s because Brandon Dawkins has gotten better and Anu knows that and so does Brandon.”
To Solomon’s advantage, the experience isn’t just the lone factor for the competition, but rather his relationship with Rodriguez.
Monday was the last day for player meetings, according to Rodriguez, and his conversation with Solomon touched on always having the ability to “prove yourself.”
Rodriguez said he’s always been attracted to Solomon’s competitive edge even though it doesn’t show at times.
“I’ve always been able to have really good frank conversations with him and I appeal to his competitiveness,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes he doesn’t show that — he’s more of a competitor than sometimes he shows.”
Solomon is coming off a forgettable sophomore campaign in which he threw for 2,667 yards with 20 total touchdowns. On the flip side of the coin, Solomon also dealt with two concerning concussion injuries that kept him from playing at Stanford and at ASU.
With an entire injury-free offseason, the freshman ghost of Anu Solomon may return to Arizona Stadium.
“You’re going to see a revived Anu that’s ready to compete and start this fall,” Rodriguez said.
It’s not necessarily Solomon’s job to lose, however — if that is the case, then the coaches would have a tendency to either give him more reps with the first team offense or reveal preferential treatment. Rodriguez made it clear that he doesn’t use that method.
This could be good for Solomon. If he had received that returning starting quarterback treatment, then it could have applied extra pressure on him and he could have slowly lost his mojo.
“I think when you have somebody’s job to lose, it’s almost like he has to screw up and that’s not the case,” Rodriguez said. “It’s an open competition everywhere and I’ve always been like that.”
At this point, both are on the same plateau, but the starting quarterback saga will continue as long as both of them are wearing an Arizona uniform.
“I think [Anu Solomon] is going to have a great summer and we’re going to have a great competition between him and Brandon Dawkins,” Rodriguez said. “That may be ongoing through out the season.”
Is it September yet?
Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.