Arizona travels to Washington on Saturday for the first of a two-game road trip, and even though it’s week nine, the Wildcats have quarterback competition between Anu Solomon and Jerrard Randall.
This week’s depth chart has an “or” separating the two, indicating either of the quarterbacks could start this week.
Both are special in their own way. Solomon has the better touch on a football that is catchable for receivers, but Randall has nearly perfected the craft of a mobile quarterback.
Solomon was supposed to be the undisputed leader on this desperate Arizona team that has battled injuries all season, but Randall has proven that he can run with the big boys. Who will head coach Rich Rodriguez go with on Halloween night?
The Daily Wildcat Sports Twitter took a poll on who will start in Seattle, and Tucson has made its decision clear. Randall received 53 percent of the vote while Solomon was sitting at 47 percent. Arizona fans want to see Randall and they have every right to see the dual threat quarterback perform against the Huskies.
“[Solomon and Randall] practice both parts of the offense, but inevitably, [Randall is] better at some things and [Solomon] is better at some things,” Rodriguez said. “We know that as coaches and plan accordingly.”
Randall is the best option for not only this week, but for the rest of the season.
The redshirt senior replaced Solomon for the nearly the entire fourth quarter at Colorado because the offense couldn’t find a groove punt after punt, and it wasn’t like Jared Baker was going to continue to put the team on his back.
The spark the offense needed was lit once Randall entered the game and the offensive push was in full effect, according to offensive lineman Jacob Alsadek.
“[Randall] is explosive and it seems like when he comes in, he can score and he can score fast,” Alsadek said. “He makes quick plays, big plays, stuff like that.”
OK, maybe it was a fluke that Randall ran for 81 yards and threw for 42 yards in the fourth quarter, but explain a situation like Washington State, where Solomon was missing in action in a Homecoming weekend against a rebuilding Wazzu team.
Is it the concussion Solomon suffered in the first half against UCLA that is holding him back? He’s had the expression of a deer in the headlights ever since.
Solomon’s performance last week was his worst this season with 145 passing yards. Barely throwing over 100 yards against a team led by the pioneer of the spread offense in Mike Leach will not get it done.
Randall was thrown in late in the game, expected to return the duel back in Arizona’s favor. He finished with 242 all-purpose yards to go along with two touchdowns, but it was a day late and a dollar short thanks to Solomon’s performance early on.
With Randall playing out of his mind as of recently and leading the FBS in average yards per rush with 11 yards per carry, why not try him out over Solomon?
Throw Randall and witness his craft he’s perfected with a wounded Arizona team that has its back against the wall and just one win away from becoming bowl eligible.
Rodriguez has already won half the battle because now Washington has to prepare for two quarterbacks, which is the best situation possible for the Wildcats.
“If I knew, why would I tell anybody?” Rodriguez said.
Solomon will be forced to do some soul searching if Randall starts this weekend, and that is exactly what a player like Solomon deserves. Arizona should expect big production from Solomon if a fire is lit under the sophomore quarterback.
But as of now, Randall is the best option moving forward as the Wildcats only have four games to pick up a seemingly elusive bowl-clinching victory.
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