Editor's note: Welcome Alec Sills-Trausch back to the AZ Desert Swarm family!
It's been hotly debated across ADS and the Wildcat blogosphere whether Anu Solomon should hold onto the reigns or would there be a transfer of power behind center.
After being squarely on 'Team Anu' for the last eight games (and last season), I have jumped ship to 'Team Randall.'
This is to not say that Solomon is having a bad year. He isn't, with a ridiculous 13-0 TD-INT ratio, but for me at least, the team looks better with Jerrard Randall at the helm. (As an aside, I also do not think Solomon has fully recovered from his concussion, but I'm obviously no medical expert so we won't go too far down this path.)
With Randall behind center, the ball moves around quicker (literally -- does Randall have top-secret clearance for the missiles he launches out of his right arm?), plays that would collapse with Anu seem to find a way to at least net nothing, and lastly, Randall provides a much better upgrade as a runner compared to his slight decline in passing.
Since Solomon was concussed against UCLA, he hasn't had a completion percentage higher than 60% in a game which might not sound too good (and it isn't) until you realize he only completed 58% of his passes last season (so he's practically playing the same, without the same team success).
Randall on the flip side, has a 61% completion percentage (29/47) since the Stanford game while also contributing 302 rushing yards. Further more, he has thrown three touchdowns to Solomon's two.
The 6'1, 185lb, Randall seems to have this bad rap as not being able to throw the ball. This might has been the case early on when he was thrown in ill-prepared against UCLA and was playing from behind nearly the entire time versus Stanford, but against Washington State, he looked poised and confident.
The more time he has to get in sync with the receivers and understand the offense, including check downs and secondary receivers, the better he will look. One play last week, his laser to Johnny Jackson over the middle, was probably the best ball thrown all season for the Arizona Wildcats. On that TD, Jackson faked the corner route, instead coming back towards the center with the ball already on a rope for him to catch.
If Randall can keep those types of throws up (see Randy Johnson 2001 not Randy Johnson 1990), I think he can be a decent quarterback while also torching defenses with his legs.
Speaking of the running attack, with Randall on board, defenses will have to put a LB and DE on the read-option because a defensive coordinator cannot allow Nick Wilson (or insert other running back) and Randall to get the ball with space. Even a D-Coordinator doing so will one, still create matchup nightmares because neither of those positions can keep up with our runners, but two, will allow better passing lanes over the middle because the LB will be crashing towards the line of scrimmage trying to stop the run.
Those two outcomes will force the safeties to move up into the box, creating single coverage on the outside; a prime position for David Richards and Cayleb Jones to thrive with the deep ball.
Overall, I think Randall has earned this. He sparked the offense against Colorado and nearly brought the Wildcats back from a 2nd half hole versus Wazzu. In addition, his overall stats have been better and with a full week of reps with the 1st team offense, he should be ready to go against the Washington Huskies and their stingy defense.