The Colorado Buffaloes’ defense made a big mistake when they faced the Arizona Wildcats last year, knocking out starting quarterback Brandon Dawkins in the first quarter and forcing his backup, Khalil Tate, into the ballgame.
“During that time I told the Colorado defense ‘well, you know you messed up. Don’t knock out the starting quarterback.’’’ warned UA receiver Shun Brown.
The rest is history. Tate rushed for an FBS quarterback record 327 yards and accounted for five touchdowns as Arizona beat Colorado 45-42 in Boulder.
“They were like ‘I didn’t know he was that good,’” Brown said. “I said, ‘oh, well.’”
Tate had touchdown runs of 75, 58, 47, and 25 yards, instantly becoming one of the most electrifying players in college football.
“In the locker room we were all talking about (the record),” said UA left tackle Layth Friekh. “It was cool to be a part of it.”
Perhaps even crazier: Tate also completed 12 of 13 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown.
That outburst was just the start of an unbelievable October for the UA quarterback, who eventually became the first player to be Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week four straight weeks.
“Man, I remember sitting on the sideline like, ‘we’re about to score again, we’re about to score again,’” said UA receiver Shawn Poindexter. “Nobody could stop him. It was awesome. Anytime he would call a play, it was like all right it’s going to be an easy drive because Khalil is going to run down the field and score. It was almost like playing Madden. You could score anytime you want.”
Tate is set to rematch Colorado on Friday, this time as Arizona’s starting quarterback. To say he has not been the same player as he was last season would be a massive understatement.
Battling ankle issues and adjusting to a new coaching staff, Tate has only rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns all season. His longest run was a 21-yard scamper against Southern Utah. Tate’s completion percentage and yards per attempt have dipped as well.
Arizona fans have been longing for October 2017 Tate to return and maybe, just maybe, he can rekindle that magic when the Buffs come to town Friday.
They sure didn’t have an answer for him last year.