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Arizona football: Jerrard Randall trying to prove he's more than just a runner

Will Anu Solomon's backup be able to throw the ball in 2015?

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Heading into spring practice, there was a sour taste not just in the fans' mouths of what happened at the end of the Fiesta Bowl, but also in the Arizona Wildcats coaching staff's mouths.

That final play by Anu Solomon kind of opened the door for what many believed would be an open quarterback competition this spring.

But that did not pan out, as Solomon shut the door on everyone behind him.

Still, as we saw with Ohio State, you need to have a competent quarterback sitting behind the starter if you're going to make some noise nationally. And that's where Jerrard Randall comes in.

In 2014, the LSU transfer and now redshirt senior, appeared in five games, most notably the Pac-12 Championship Game. Randall did not complete a pass in three attempts all season, but ran the ball 15 times for a total of 104 yards.

After the Pac-12 Championship Game, I talked to Jerrard about what he had to do in that game, and he basically conceded that he was out there just trying to use his speed to run the ball up the field.

But this Spring was more about him working on his throwing ability, and being able to take what the defense gives him.

"It's all coming together," Randall said during the last week of practice this semester. "I'm just trying to stick to the basics and make the right reads and make sure I take what the defense gives me, cuz that's the best way to go."

"He had some practices where he was leaps and bounds ahead of where he was last year," Rich Rodriguez added. "More than anything else, not just understanding what we do offensively, but what the defense is doing against us and how to attack it."

"That's what I mostly focused on, was trying to get through my first and second reads," Randall continued. "Then checking down sometimes the third read or running cuz I can run. But I try to pass more than I run. If (the defense) gives me the run, I'm gonna take the run. And if they give me the pass, I'm gonna take the pass."

"Either way it goes, I think I'm in a good situation here cuz it's a run-pass offense."

He certainly got away from the run in the Spring Game. Jerrard threw 12 times, completing six of those for 77 yards and a touchdown. He only ran the ball twice for -7 yards.

Randall is in a good situation at Arizona. He's proven he has the arm strength. The last two spring games, he's gone out there and thrown the ball on a line from the opposite 30 to the goal line. But it's the accuracy that was missing, and also the confidence in his reads.

And that's what Arizona will need him to overcome to be a capable backup to Anu Solomon in 2015, a season where there are no bye weeks to rest up from injuries.

"I'm a lot more ready this year," the senior quarterback explained. "Last year, I just wanted to run. I was greedy with the ball. My coach said I was a great athlete and everything and I took that to the head. And I think there were some reads that I could have handed off the ball instead of running it every time, but it was my first time getting in. I was kind of shaky and nervous."

"I just love football, and I'm trying to make the best chances of scoring touchdowns. Any way I can do that, even if it's a special package on the goal line. Either way I'm trying to get my touchdowns in, and I know that it's a team thing, but I'm the main key in the offense."

"I'm the quarterback, and I've gotta bring it all together."