Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate missed Saturday’s game against the UCLA Bruins due to a lingering ankle injury, and it is unclear if he will return for this week’s homecoming game against the Oregon Ducks.
“Don’t know yet,” Coach Kevin Sumlin said of Tate’s status Monday at his weekly press conference.
Sumlin had an identical response last Monday, but then announced the following day that Rhett Rodriguez would be the team’s signal-caller at the Rose Bowl.
“The reason is Sunday is the players’ day off, so the assessment will happen today and that’s why that happened last Tuesday,” Sumlin explained. “We’ll evaluate (Tate) today and look at it and see where he is. I’ll probably say something tomorrow about it.”
It will be interesting to see how Sumlin makes the announcement. Last week, he made the quarterback change public on the Pac-12 coaches teleconference, but there is not one scheduled for this week and he is not on tap to meet with local media the rest of the week, either.
“Basically the way it works is (Tate) came on the trip, he was engaged all week with the other quarterbacks and with the team,” Sumlin said, noting that Tate did not practice last week. “Sunday is the team’s day off for treatment and things like that. We don’t meet until 3:30 this afternoon and we’re going to practice this afternoon. And between this morning, our medical team and everything else, we’ll talk about it tonight and I’ll have a discussion with him tonight or tomorrow morning about where he is and we’ll go from there.”
Rodriguez went 15 of 34 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first career start. He said he was grateful for the experience, but said he “could have been a lot better.”
Sumlin thought Rodriguez managed the situation well, all things considered.
“I thought Rhett did some things that were really good and some things that he would take back,” Sumlin said. “He’s very, very critical of himself. But in the end, he gave us a chance to win the game, so that’s the takeaway.
“Our protection was good enough to give Rhett a chance to get the ball up in the air and our receivers made some plays, particularly in the second half. So it’s not always about the quarterback. It’s about the 10 other guys on the field. We made plays, but we didn’t make enough to win.”
Sumlin said Arizona considered mixing in another quarterback — perhaps freshmen Kevin Doyle or Jamarye Joiner — but thought Rodriguez deserved to stay in, despite completing two of his first 12 passes. One of those incompletions was an interception in the end zone.
“(The plan) changed a little bit because … we were behind. And I think the question after the game was about the slow start in the first half. Well, we turned the ball over twice going into score (J.J. Taylor’s fumble near the goal line being the other), so the slow start that was three points should have probably been 17,” Sumlin said.
“I know the first throw he’d love to have back, but the rest of the time he was moving the ball, so it wasn’t time (to make a change).”