Coming out of the Arizona Wildcats’ first game of 2016, a lot of the conversation has centered around the quarterbacks, namely people wondering how Anu Solomon lasted the entire game.
In this week’s roundtable, we chat about when we thought Solomon was coming out of the game. Also, does that performance make you feel encouraged, discouraged or meh for the rest of the year?
Jason Bartel: At what point did you think Brandon Dawkins was coming into the game?
Gabe Encinas: I honestly thought we would see Brandon Dawkins after a drive or two in the second half. It just seemed like it was coming. At times last season, Rich Rodriguez was never worried about pulling Anu Solomon out for Jerrard Randall. With all of this quarterback competition talk all offseason -- Rodriguez saying the two would split first team reps and they’ll both switch off and play in games -- you would have thought for sure that Dawkins would get his chance.
Drake Horner: After the first stalled drive in the third quarter, but Solomon kept jogging out on the field. It made me realize that maybe the quarterback competition was a little exaggerated. I don’t think Solomon is that bad, but it’s not all his fault. The offensive line was struggling and Solomon did a lot to extend plays. It’ll be interesting if Solomon keeps playing like this; Rodriguez didn’t have a problem pulling him last year.
Brandon Combs: I thought we’d see him within the first quarter. When that didn't happen, I was expecting to see Dawkins start the second half. Well that didn't happen either. I still expect Dawkins to get playing time, just not sure how much. Last year, RichRod at times didn't hesitate to put Randall in so there is a possibility the same thing will occur with Dawkins this year.
David Potts: Start of the second half. I get giving Anu a half to try to get acclimated, but after such a dismal offensive performance in the first half, I thought Rich Rod would try something new.
Ryan Kelapire: I definitely thought Dawkins was going to be starting the second half. That’s usually a good time for a coach to make an adjustment like that, especially since it was right after Solomon took the sack which basically pushed Arizona out of field goal range.
Ronnie Stoffle: I never really felt like Brandon was coming in the game. Anu’s stat line was not so great but he did an excellent job of keeping plays alive. He did a lot that doesn’t show up in the final stat line. I understand he threw two interceptions and obviously that’s not ideal. However, he was constantly under pressure and found ways to extend plays. I think the bottom line is Anu is a better passer and Wilson was doing a great job running the ball. If Dawkins came in, it would have made the offense too one-dimensional. I agreed with the decision to stay with Anu.
2. Are you encouraged, discouraged or neutral after that performance?
GE: Pretty neutral. I think the offense and defense kind of offset each other. I think it’s super encouraging to see Arizona give up only 18 points in a loss. The questions surrounding this defense never stopped this offseason and going up against an experienced quarterback like Taysom Hill was going to be no easy task. But the offense just didn’t show up for three and a half quarters and that’s extremely disappointing.
DH: Neutral. The fact that the offense was that bad and they still should have won the game makes me feel a little better. The defense let up a lot of yards, but only yielded 18 points, which is usually more than enough for an Arizona team to win a game. I’m really curious to see how BYU does in the next few weeks as well. BYU could be better than a lot of people expected.
BC: Neutral. The defense played pretty well throughout the night. It was on the offensive side where the problems resided. It took Arizona’s offense a little over three quarters to gain traction. The lack of production came from lack of communication, poor play calling, bad decisions, and the overall offense not being in sync. I think all the pieces are there, they just need to be fused together.
DP: Neutral. The defense exceeded expectations for sure, and, if you told me before the game that we would only allow 18 points, I'd be pretty pumped. The offense was disappointing until the surge late in the game, but I'm hopeful that the performance late in the game is a positive sign. I can't view the game as a positive (the offense was just not good enough for that), but I'm at least hopeful the team will improve as the season progresses.
RK: Neutral. I predicted BYU to beat Arizona anyway, so the result doesn’t surprise me. I didn’t expect the offense to look as disjointed as it did, yet I also didn’t expect the defense to hold BYU to just 18 points. So yeah, there were both positives and negatives to take away from this game and the team that I expected to win did. Therefore, a neutral reaction. I’ve always thought this is a 6-6 or 7-5 team and that’s exactly what they looked like in Glendale.
RS: It’s discouraging that they didn’t walk away with the win. I think there were many encouraging aspects from the game though. Nick Wilson ran the ball like it was 2014. Anu did a great job of scrambling to keep plays alive. The defense looked very good overall. The Wildcats very easily could have won that game but they didn’t. Give BYU credit, they are a good team. It was week one so please do not overreact. It feels like the Pac-12 South could be pretty open and if the defense continues to play like that, I like UA’s chances to make some noise.