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Arizona football roundtable: Do the Wildcats have to play Khalil Tate more now?

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After burning the redshirt, does the coaching staff need to play the star true freshman for the rest of the year?

NCAA Football: Arizona at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In a kind of surprising move on Saturday night, Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona Wildcats sent true freshman Khalil Tate into the game to play quarterback, burning the 17-year-old’s redshirt.

There was talk of Tate transferring before this transpired, but now he could be looking at significant playing time moving forward. Which begs the question: Does Rich Rodriguez kind of have to play Tate now after burning his redshirt? We discuss in our second roundtable of the week:


Gabe Encinas: That was a pretty big statement for him to come in and burn that redshirt. Since the redshirt is gone, it would be a shame if you don’t use his talents in at least some capacity at quarterback. Personally, I think Anu Solomon’s injury is much more serious and will be similar to the time frame of Scooby Wright last season. So with that being said, having Brandon Dawkins banged up might just allow you to have some sort of a situational role for Tate, working something out between the two.

I think this is an interesting move because based on what I have heard and seen, it seemed like Tate was just extremely frustrated with his lack of playing time and wanting to peace out. Now that he’s burned that redshirt, it’s a weird situation for him to be in, but now he can win the job over Dawkins. But in my opinion, Braxton Burmeister is the truth, so, enjoy it while it lasts.


David Potts: I don’t think he has to necessarily *start* him, but I think Tate now has to be part of the rotation. Before this game, there were rumblings that Tate was thinking of transferring (largely based on his own tweets) and that he wasn’t happen about the amount of playing time he was getting. That presents a problem for Rich Rodriguez - either you burn the redshirt and play Tate (which, in the short term, makes Tate happy and more likely to stay) or you don’t (which may benefit Tate in the long term, but probably makes it more likely he leaves). Rich Rod chose the former.

The problem now is that you can’t burn Tate’s redshirt for just one game - it’d be bad for Tate’s future and it’d be bad for Arizona’s recruiting. That means that, regardless of Dawkins’ health, Tate will need to see the field. My hope is that the coaching staff can find a way for Dawkins and Tate to both be involved, maybe with both in the backfield at the same time. I expect to see a lot more Khalil Tate the rest of the year.


Alec Sills-Trausch: No, but I think it’s a wise decision at this point. I’m still under the impression Anu Solomon is more hurt than the coaching staff is letting on, thus we only have a two man QB battle - sorry War Ginger (Zach Werlinger). I agree with David, Rich Rod should find way to to get them both on the field, though I still believe Dawkins should start if healthy. Tate could be used as a bruising quarterback similar to what Oklahoma had a few years ago in Blake Bell on short yardage situations.


Drake Horner: You have to play him in some capacity now in my opinion. The way he was running the ball showed how much potential he can have in this offense. He is 17 years old and running over grown men like it’s nothing. This is a very interesting situation for Rich. Dawkins lit up one of the best, if not the best defenses in the Pac-12 for 28 points when playing Washington. He then goes in against UCLA and scores on the first drive and than gets hurt and tries to play through it.

Then, you have to burn Khalil’s redshirt in the third quarter and he shows what he can do in the offense. I think you have to play him next week in my opinion. Going into Serra, getting a four-star recruit that had offers from everywhere (as an athlete not a QB) and then burning his redshirt and not playing him again won’t help in recruiting circles. With the way he played, you gotta at least get him in on some packages, but this could all be a moot point if Brandon’s injury keeps him out next week.


Brandon Combs: You have to play him in some shape or fashion. He was a highly recruited/rated player out of high school and you don't want to waste a year of eligibility on one half. He is a punishing runner and has some touch on his deep throws. He was calm in the pocket, showed escapability, and made the most of his opportunity. Rich Rod even said that Tate played better against UCLA than in practice.

This now presents somewhat of a good problem. Do you start Tate or Dawkins (when healthy)? The possible answer is whoever has the hot hand you start and then mix the other in as much as possible. Both Dawkins and Tate have similar playing styles so there really shouldn't be too much difference between them. The only big difference is that the playbook is smaller with Tate then Dawkins. But that will expand over time.


Ronnie Stoffle: It only makes sense for Tate to play more now. It’s unfortunate his redshirt wasn’t pulled three series earlier during a pivotal stretch while the game was still neck and neck. Eyes forward to Utah and he is a must-start for this team.

I think he showed that he is physically ready to play at this level. Conditioning will be a key as he was clearly gassed at times. Given the injuries within the position, it only makes sense that he would play. There is no telling when Anu is coming back and the timeline for Brandon is unclear. This a perfect opportunity for him to play.


Jason Bartel: Like has been mentioned above, you have to put Tate in the game now. There’s no way around it. Rodriguez isn’t going to burn the redshirt for a quarter and a half in a game that had basically been decided already.

When Dawkins is healthy again (not sure you get over a rib injury in a week), I think you run both of them out there at the same time, especially with the current running back situation. This is the perfect time to go full high school spread style and show the Pac-12 something it hasn’t dealt with before, and try to make a big run in the second half of the year with that.

I’m also not sure that Solomon is coming back soon like we have been led to believe.