When fall camp begins in August, the Arizona Wildcats will be holding a quarterback competition between Anu Solomon and Brandon Dawkins, with the winner earning the chance to start the team's season opener against BYU in Glendale on Sept. 3.
However, according to the reputable player evaluation website ProFootballFocus.com, it shouldn't be much of a competition.
Why? Because Solomon is not only Arizona's best player, he's an elite quarterback, per PFF.
Although he appears to be in a pre-season battle for the starting position, QB Anu Solomon was clearly Arizona’s best player last year, and has the ninth-highest returning passing grade in FBS this season (No. 1 in the Pac-12). He was at his best on intermediate passes in 2015, as he was 36-of-57 for nine touchdowns and just one interception on throws between 11 and 20 yards downfield. He also produced extremely well against the blitz, throwing seven touchdowns to just one interception.
PFF also put this graphic on display.
The numbers in the boxes are the grades PFF has given to Anu, and it shows how he excels at making throws to different parts of the field.
Now, from a traditional stat perspective, Solomon wasn't as impressive as PFF makes him out to be. Solomon had a 147.0 passer efficiency as a sophomore, a figure that put him 33rd among qualified quarterbacks in the FBS. Not bad, but certainly not elite.
That said, PFF's grading system is complex. It is "concerned with how a player performed on a particular play, not the outcome of that play."
For example, if a quarterback hits a wide receiver perfectly in stride on a post route in between two defenders, and the receiver drops the ball, it goes down in the box score as an incompletion. But in our system, that quarterback receives a positive grade for making a great throw. His statistics should not be punished based on the fact that his receiver dropped a pass.
So, what you can take away from PFF's evaluation is that Solomon is a better player than his stats indicate — and he's certainly worthy of being Arizona's starter when the season kicks off in September.
But ultimately that decision resides with Rich Rodriguez and company and there is one dimension of the competition that could tip the scale in Dawkins' favor.
If sophomore Brandon Dawkins is able to beat out Solomon as day one starter, it will likely be due to his upside as an athlete in coach Rich Rodriguez’s run-friendly scheme (Solomon averaged 5.3 yards per carry last year compared to Dawkins’ 10.3 last year), as Solomon is clearly one of the better passers in the country and there are very few teams on which he would not start.
What do you think? Is Solomon is an elite player? Or do you think PFF is crazy for asserting this?