With the Arizona Wildcats changing head coaches and play callers ahead of the 2018 season, their opponents aren’t entirely sure what the offense is going to look like this fall. Well, other than that Khalil Tate will be a big part of it, much like he was after stepping in for Brandon Dawkins last October and instantly becoming a national sensation.
BYU, whom Arizona will host on Sept. 1 in Kevin Sumlin’s coaching debut, is well aware of the challenge it faces in trying to contain Tate.
“He’s a different quarterback,” BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki said, per Jeff Call of the Deseret News. “We’ve got to try to keep him in front of us. He’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s a better runner than he is a passer, but he’s really good.”
Tate set an FBS quarterback rushing record with 327 yards against Colorado on Oct. 7 and went on to run for 1,411 yards with 12 touchdowns to go with 1,591 passing yards and 14 TDs.
BYU struggled with dual-threat QBs last season, allowing Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald to run for 103 yards and two TDs while Utah’s Tyler Huntley ran for 89 yards and a score. Huntley added 300 yards through the air on 27-of-36 passing and Fitzgerald threw for 241 yards and two TDs.
The Cougars’ 17 sacks in 2017 tied for 111th nationally out of 130 FBS teams and they intercepted only eight passes on 356 opponent attempts.
“It’s following the eyes on the quarterback and not breaking too early,” BYU safety Dayan Ghanwoloku, per Call. “Watching film, he looks safeties off. Reading the quarterback’s eyes, that’s the big thing. Don’t bite too early. He can run to the outside. My whole thing is to be disciplined in coverage.”