There are plenty of issues plaguing the Arizona Wildcats this year. Both lines have not played well. Injuries have decimated the starting linebackers. The secondary has failed to improve. The receivers continue to drop balls, and the running backs behind Nick Wilson are inconsistent at best.
But the way the sport has gone, and the way Rich Rodriguez runs his offense, the quarterbacks take the brunt of the criticism (or the praise), especially the past few weeks.
When Arizona was forced to start Jerrard Randall against Stanford, things did not go well at all. The Wildcats were only able to gain 314 yards of offense against the Cardinal. Randall was personally responsible for 245 of those yards (178 passing, 67 rushing).
The next week, Anu Solomon returned, and so did the offensive flow, or so we thought. 644 yards of offense. Solomon had 276 passing yards in that game, and the three-headed running back combo of Jared Baker, Nick Wilson, and Orlando Bradford combined for 284 yards on the ground.
Then the team went to Colorado, and once again struggled offensively, at least for the first three quarters. The difference in the fourth quarter? Rich Rodriguez pulled Solomon for Randall.
So even though Solomon wasn't turning the ball over, Rodriguez himself had doubts about playing Solomon exclusively, and the gamble paid off, as Randall led Arizona to victory that night, possibly their last win of the season.
Yes, the offensive line has been inconsistent at best. Snaps have not been good. Pass blocking has not been particularly great. But it is the same five guys in front of each quarterback.
I want to break down the offense's numbers with the two different QBs in the game, and how close (or far apart) the numbers are.
So let's do that. This is based on Arizona's official play-by-play of when each quarterback was in the game, and the total yards the offense gained while that quarterback was in the game.
Why just the last three games? Because that's when RichRod seemed to also have doubts about going with a strictly-one-quarterback-system.
Also, very limited amounts of Nick Wilson the past three weeks, and it's pretty obvious now he is the most important piece of the offense's ability to be consistent.
Make of these numbers what you want, but my takeaway is that the offense is more efficient, as a whole, with Jerrard Randall behind center.
Why? I believe Randall's athletic ability allows him to deal with adversity better than Anu Solomon. This is not a shot at Solomon; Randall is just that athletically gifted. A high snap doesn't have as much impact on him because Randall's legs can allow him to escape easier when he picks up the ball and a defensive lineman is right on top of him. That also allows him to escape pressure better when he does drop back to pass, and of course, his tendency to take off and run negates poor pass blocking up front.
The offensive line situation isn't about to get better either, as both starting guards (Jacob Alsadek and Freddie Tagaloa) both sustained injuries at Washington.
These aren't small sample sizes anymore for Randall either. Pretty sure any offensive coordinator would take 609 yards on 85 plays in a game.
Is Arizona better off using both? Yes. I also believe Randall succeeds when he comes in because he is such a change of pace from Anu, and it's tough for a team to prepare for two completely different quarterbacks.
But there's no arguing the offense is more efficient with Randall in the game.