Heading into the beginning of last season, the Wildcats had a quarterback duel throughout spring and summer. Fans couldn't pinpoint who the signal caller would be after last year's quarterback B.J. Denker graduated. There was talks it could have been Jesse Scroggins, the USC transfer. Jerrard Randall's name was also thrown into the pile, as was Connor Brewer. But Anu Solomon was awarded the starting position by Head Coach Rich Rodriguez and "Anu Era" took off.
Solomon led the Wildcats to a 10-4 finish; including a win on the road at No. 2 Oregon, a Pac-12 South championship, and a berth to the Vizio Fiesta Bowl. Solomon stood out far more from Denker because Denker seemed to predominantly look to be a runner, whereas Solomon looks to pass first. That led Solomon to finish with 3,793 passing yards and 291 rushing yards. Heading into year two with Solomon, the Cats' success could continue to grow.
One thing that allowed him to be successful is the development of running back Nick Wilson. Wilson came through in a huge way as he rushed for 1,375 yards in his first season. The success of the running game allowed Solomon to open up the passing game and find receivers down the field. To further implement the likelihood of year two going well, Arizona's top two receivers from last season, Cayleb Jones and Samajie Grant, both return.
Solomon showed signs of being a top-named quarterback in the program, but he also showed signs of improvement. Against Washington, he finished with 242 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. In the Pac-12 Championship, he completed six out 12 passes for 34 yards and was replaced in the second half by Scroggins. So the earlier victory against Oregon left fans scratching their heads as to what happened with a possible trip to the College Football Playoff on the line?
Of the Pac-12 teams Arizona lost to last season, USC and UCLA, both seem to be winnable games this time around. UCLA loses important players such as Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks and Owa Odighizuwa. The Trojans lost Leonard Williams, Nelson Agholar, Buck Allen and Josh Shaw. The Wildcats will play the Bruins at home and will travel to USC. ASU and Utah are the other teams that will challenge Solomon and the Cats for the Pac-12 South title.
Why will Solomon be more successful this season: He fits Rich Rodriguez's style of offense. Solomon can use his legs when he wants to but will rely on his arm more. Grant and Jones will anchor an experienced group of receivers and Wilson's contributions will only continue to bolster the running game. With a favorable preseason schedule before the Pac-12 opener at UCLA, Solomon will surely be ready for the Bruins and another claim for the Pac-12 South title.