Tucson knows it. The West Coast is catching on. Now, the nation needs to figure it out and fast because time is running out.
With Khalil Tate at the helm, the Arizona Wildcats are a new beast.
In four October games, UA averaged 381 yards on the ground and 185 in the air with a 69 percent completion percentage. The previous month, the team averaged 296 rushing yards and 182 passing with a completion percentage of 63 percent.
With a supercharged impact player behind center, it’s already having a huge effect on the program.
The entire team has new energy. The defense seems alive and making big-time plays. The play calling is even more succinct and crisp — though I guess it helps when the QB isn’t overthrowing his receivers.
With this said, at some point, Arizona needs to be judged through a new lens.
Maybe not just yet but if this team beats USC, voters across the spectrum need to throw out the first four games and judge Arizona in BTE (Before Tate Era) and ATE (After Tate Era).
Now is this possible? Who knows – for the NCAA Tournament, they routinely factor in player injuries as well as the last 8-10 games played leading up to March Madness. There hasn’t been this type of a “I’m the captain now” development in college football at this magnitude in a long time for anyone to look back on for precedent.
After USC, Arizona has three very winnable games (Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona State) and if they happen to run the table, and be 11-2 with a win over Washington or Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game, why should they not have a claim to the college football playoff? Nine straight wins over multiple ranked foes with a lightning rod at quarterback should put you at least in the discussion.
Now, I know we’re way out in front of our skis here but the point being, Arizona needs to be judged with the ATE in mind. Those first four games are not the current Wildcat team.
This team has changed and the voters need to recognize that change and alter their thinking.
You can follow Alec on Twitter: @UofAlec