The Arizona Wildcats’ offense changed drastically when Khalil Tate took over at quarterback in Week 6.
Yes, it became one of the nation’s top rushing attacks — No. 3, to be exact — but it also displayed a new ability to stretch the field vertically.
Tate threw a deep pass (20+ yards) on 30.9 percent of his drop-backs, per Pro Football Focus, which is third-highest percentage among returning FBS quarterbacks. And yet, Tate managed to complete 62 percent of his passes, as he displayed terrific arm strength and accuracy down the field.
His No. 1 target was Shun Brown, who wound up leading Arizona in receptions despite a slow start to the season. The Louisiana native showed a knack for hauling in deep passes, despite being just 5-foot-9.
According to Pro Football Focus, Brown had a 53.3 percent catch rate on deep throws, which is the highest mark among returning Pac-12 wide receivers.
Arizona WR Shun Brown hauled in 53.3% of his deep passes a year ago - highest among the returning Pac-12 WRs pic.twitter.com/Dkjaqpuiat— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 5, 2018
It will be interesting to see how this carries over into Brown’s senior season, which will be his first full year with Tate as his quarterback.
New head coach Kevin Sumlin said during his introductory press conference that he wants Arizona to be more explosive on both offense and defense.
Tate only averaged 16.3 pass attempts per game in 2017, and if Arizona decides to have him drop back more often and take more shots down the field, Brown could be in for a huge year.
Same goes for 6-foot-5 Shawn Poindexter, who connected with Tate several times down the field in the spring game.