It’s officially Rhett Rodriguez time for Arizona football.
Quarterback Khalil Tate will sit out this week against UCLA due to an ankle injury and Rhett Rodriguez, son of former UA football head coach Rich Rodriguez, will get the start against the Bruins.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin announced the quarterback change during the Pac-12 coaches conference call on Tuesday.
Tate has been battling an ankle injury since tweaking it in week two against the Houston Cougars. The ankle injury has largely affected Tate’s ability to be the explosive dual-threat quarterback he was in 2017. Since suffering the injury, Tate has had tape wrapped around both of his cleats during games.
Through the first seven games of the season, Tate has just 112 yards rushing on 46 attempts. He averaged 128.27 rushing yards per game in 11 appearances a year ago.
Tate has been seen limping around on the field multiple times over the last few weeks after getting tackled and was even taken out of last week’s game against Utah after a defender tackled him by his ankles in the first quarter.
True freshman Jamarye Joiner filled in for Tate for two series against the Utes but then was replaced by Rodriguez for the remainder of the game. Rodriguez completed 20 of his 38 passing attempts for 226 yards and his first career collegiate passing touchdown in relief.
His first career start will come against a 1-5 UCLA Bruins team at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night. UCLA’s defense is allowing 410.7 yards per game and 31.5 points per game.
Rodriguez, a Tucson native and Catalina Foothills High School graduate, passed for 2,996 yards with 30 touchdowns as a senior in 2016 and was named Southern Arizona Offensive Player of the Year.
Rich and his wife Rita also said in the interview that they plan to be in attendance when the Wildcats travel to UCLA on Saturday.
Sumlin said in the conference call that Joiner and freshman Kevin Doyle will see increased reps this week in practice and may play against the Bruins, too.
Arizona and UCLA kick off at 7:30 p.m. MST in Los Angeles on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
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