Before the Arizona Wildcats even took the field for their first game, Anu Solomon was put at a pretty big disadvantage. Not only was Samajie Grant suspended for a violation of team rules, but Freddie Tagaloa was unable to start at left tackle after sustaining an injury in practice earlier in the week.
Add to that not having Trey Griffey due to his foot injury, and Solomon was without a lot of major contributors.
Yet, he still managed to have a pretty good game.
"I thought he competed well," Rich Rodriguez said after the game. "I thought he was sharp at times, and there were a couple times where I thought he missed a couple touchdown throws, but he didn't make any bad mistakes."
"Maybe Coach Rod needs to have me run after them again," Solomon added about his overthrows. "It's just one of those mistakes that I did."
People may focus on those couple of long passes that he overthrew, but Solomon finished the night with four touchdown passes and no interceptions, and was sacked just once. He also had five rushes for 35 yards, including a 31-yard scamper.
"All in all, we just gotta clean up all the little things," Solomon said about the offense's performance on Thursday. "The pocket, the route running, but we should be good."
What's interesting about Solomon's stats was how the passing game shortened up a bit in the second half. He was 11-for-22 with 170 yards at halftime. In the second half, he went 11-for-14 for 59 yards.
When the offensive line is struggling like it was, you have to think that this was completely by design to have the shorter passes throughout the second half. And it paid off as far as time of possession and controlling the tempo of the game. The Wildcats only had the ball for 8:55 in the first half, but had it for 15:56 of the second half.
And even though the game was close, it felt like Arizona was in control throughout the second half. It didn't feel that way in the first half.
Maybe this is what Arizona needs for now. A passing game with shorter throws, just focusing on moving the chains instead of hitting that deep threat over the top of the defense. It also keeps the defense off the field for longer periods of time, which could be huge the next few weeks as Arizona navigates through all the injuries its sustained on that side of the ball so far.