Anu Solomon has passed the concussion protocol, and will get the start in the New Mexico Bowl for the Arizona Wildcats. It's been a rocky road this season for Solomon. Once leading this team to a 3-0 record in near flawless performances through non-conference, then suffering his first concussion, to stumbling down the home stretch, suffering his second concussion in the span of two months.
But Solomon is ready. He understands that he is the leader of this offense -- of this team -- and will do what it takes to finish this season with a winning record.
"I just hate losing. That's what bothers me the most. Whatever we have to do to win, we'll do it," Solomon said about losing.
And when it comes to losing as the starting quarterback, he is his toughest critic. "Oh of course, without a doubt," Solomon said on taking the blame for losses. "It's a game of keep up. Sometimes our defense is struggling, sometimes our defense is not struggling. It's all on me. I'm the commander of the team and we have to keep the points up."
This team has taken a lot of heat this season. Whether it be Solomon himself, the defense, or lack of depth throughout the team. But Solomon understands where this team stands, and knows what it takes to execute the game plan. "People are going to say what people are going to say. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are, and we just have to capitalize on them," Solomon said about the critics.
Concussions have plagued Solomon's career, so much so that he has was not able to start against Stanford or Arizona State after suffering those two head hits against UCLA and Utah. But as of late, the hit that concussed him late in the Utah game has haunted him.
"I watch that hit over and over again, and I can't tell," Solomon said when asked if the hit he took was targeting. "It's just one of those times where you just have to eat it. His momentum and his weight just shifted on me. I don't think he hit me in my head, I think I just hit my head on the ground, hit my head pretty hard. But it's just a part of the game."
"I want to say like ten times. It's just one of those things that you watch so often," he said when asked how many times he watched that hit.
Rich Rodriguez has said that he thinks it might be better if quarterbacks dive head first, simply because he has seen so many injuries suffered by quarterbacks when they slide feet first. But during game week, Rodriguez and the staff is just worried about executing the game plan for New Mexico. "Right now we're just focusing on the bowl game, they're not even worried about me running," Solomon added.
With a loss, Arizona would drop to 6-7 on the season, Rich Rodriguez' first losing season since taking over in 2012. But Solomon is poised to lead his team to victory. "Obviously just compete. Compete until the wheels fall off. It's the last game of the season, the last game of the year even."
ON BRANDON DAWKINS
The quarterback situation will be interesting, to say the least, next year. With Solomon entering his fourth year in the program, he'll have Brandon Dawkins pushing him for the starting job, and two highly-recruited freshmen coming in with Khalil Tate and Devon Modster.
But Brandon Dawkins showed flashes of his potential when his number was called on vs. Arizona State, and we now know why quarterback coach Rod Smith has been raving about No. 13 at quarterback.
"Coach," Solomon said about his role in that Arizona State game. "That's it. We knew what ASU was going to do. For me, it's just making sure his eyes are at the right place and his timing is right,"
"He did pretty good. I mean obviously people are going to look at his two pick-sixes, but for him to be thrown into the fire, and to perform that well and running the ball, I thought he looked forced in moments and sometimes he didn't," Solomon added about Dawkins' performance.
"It's all part of the process. He's going to learn and he has a bright future here."