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Arizona football roundtable: On Anu Solomon, Jerrard Randall and the Wildcats' defense

Let's talk about quarterbacks

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats rushing game was almost as efficient as it's ever been on Saturday in Reno, putting up 301 yards on the ground.

So let's talk about the other things going on with this team:

1. Thoughts on Anu Solomon's performance through the first two weeks?

Gabe Encinas: I think his performance has been severely underrated these past two weeks. Through two weeks, only Anu Solomon and Cody Kessler have thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions, with a passer rating above 155.

It seems as if he is more of a game manager now, using the short, intermediate passing game a lot more effectively. Johnny Jackson, Samajie Grant, Nate Phillips are all helping him out in the short game, meanwhile David Richards and Cayleb Jones are helping him out on the outside.

David Potts: Solid. While I thought Anu's first game wasn't as good as the box score made it look, I thought he did a really good job against Nevada last week. He completed a large percentage of his passes against Nevada (over 70%) and has avoided making major mistakes (interceptions and fumbles). With that said, he still has room to get better. His accuracy on long throws needs to get better, and that limitation is affecting his efficiency. I worry that, when we get into Pac-12 play, defenses will be more athletic and able to stop the short and intermediate passes that Anu thrives on. Still, he has time to remedy those issues, and he has been solid so far.

Jason Bartel: I think Anu has accepted some of his limitations, and it's proving to work out really well for the offense as a whole. As long as he's not turning the ball over and taking unnecessary sacks, Arizona will be just fine, and his numbers will add up big time.

Ryan Kelapire: I think he's been great. He hasn't made any dazzling throws, but he has been consistent and has made all the throws he's needed to. Any time a guy completes 67% of his passes and has six TD passes and ZERO interceptions, it'd be hard to be extremely critical of him.

2. Do you want to see more Jerrard Randall rushes?

Editor's note: After we answered this question, Rich Rodriguez hinted that Randall might get some run at wide receiver in the future.

GE: I would, but only if Rich Rodriguez has confidence in him to throw the ball and run the offense. He would be a nice change of pace for Arizona and could be deadly on the read option game. If they want to save some stuff up for Pac-12 play, that would be sweet. But, I would really only want Randall fully involved in the offense if he can throw the ball and be a true dual-threat.

DP: No. I already had my heart broken by Javelle Allen, another very athletic running quarterback for Arizona, and I can't let myself get hurt again. More importantly, I don't think there's a good way to integrate him into the game plan without disrupting the flow of the offense. Cal had a similar problem last year when Luke Rubenzer took snaps away from Jared Goff with little success -- after all, teams knew that, if Rubenzer was in the game, Cal was going to call a running play. As much as I'd like to see a quarterback who can run like Randall did on Saturday, I wouldn't take snaps away from Anu to make it happen.

JB: I'm more with Gabe on this one. Jerrard needs to prove that he can throw the ball. It's kind of awesome and scary at the same time that he has more rushing TDs than completions in his collegiate career right now. I'd imagine he'll be able to get some time against NAU this week, and maybe he'll add to his career completions tally of one.

RK: Not really. Because if Randall is getting rushes, that means Anu is off the field. Randall has a dynamic running ability, but taking out your quarterback that has been exceptional so far to get Randall the ball seems a little counterproductive. Maybe Randall should consider switching positions considering he looks better running the ball than some of Arizona's running backs.

3. Are you impressed with what the defense did with Nevada considering all the injuries at linebacker?

GE: No, not at all. I think the defense is terrible and it will get worked against a Pac-12 offense. Nevada didn't have anything spectacular on offense. The first half was pretty gross defensively, and there was a lot of improvement in the second half, but there's no way to spin the linebackers' performance in a positive way. If anything on defense, I'm more impressed with the corners. Although they play more off the receiver, they still haven't given up the big play.

DP: Definitely. In particular, Tre Tyler, who previously was best known for challenging fellow linebackers to eat ghost pepper wings, stepped into the game as a redshirt freshman (and a walk-on) and performed very well under the circumstances. I don't know if this sort of performance is sustainable given the multitude of injuries and the inexperience of the players filling in, but it was impressive to watch those reserve guys step up when given the opportunity.

JB: I thought the defense actually did a pretty good job against Nevada overall. The Wolf Pack only scored 20 points, and the second quarter wasn't good, per usual, but other than that, it felt like a pretty good performance from everyone. Maybe sacks aren't happening, but when you stop a potent run game like the one Nevada has like that, I think there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged.

RK: I don't know if I would say I was "impressed", but they did do a better job than I thought they would. They had trouble stopping the run at times, but they got that fixed in the second half. Plus, the secondary did a solid job of not allowing much through the air while helping in run support. Overall, it was a good performance by the defense considering the injuries, but I wasn't "impressed".

4. Most interesting result from around the Pac-12?

GE: I'm going with Arizona State. For having such high expectations, they have been underperforming severely. ASU was tied at one point with Cal Poly in the third quarter. The third quarter. I wasn't able to watch the game, but from what I've read from the Phoenix area writers, even they are saying that Arizona State looks to be in some trouble.

DP: ASU sneaking by Cal Poly. Last week, after Arizona only beat UTSA by 10, House of Sparky ranked Arizona as the ninth (!!!) best team in the Pac-12. I am interested to see how they rank ASU this week after barely getting by an FCS opponent at home.

JB: I'm going off the board with Washington State beating Rutgers. Not only did it show that WSU can actually have a late game-winning drive, it showed just how much worse it is to be a Rutgers fan than a fan of any other college football team out there right now.

RK: Oregon losing to Michigan State has to be listed here. It was Vernon Adams' first start against a tough opponent, and he was...okay. Obviously he's no Mariota, but I think he (and the team) showed that picking the Ducks to roll the Pac-12 North is probably warranted.