The big figures around Tucson this week are 34 and 8.
Those are the number of times Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate threw the ball and ran the ball in the loss to BYU, respectively. It’s an imbalance nobody saw coming — and certainly not one that makes much sense given Tate’s otherworldly ability to churn out yards on the ground.
But perhaps equally as strange is arguably Arizona’s best receiving target — Shun Brown — was the target of just one of Tate’s 34 pass attempts. (It resulted in an 11-yard screen pass.)
Fellow wide receivers Shawn Poindexter, Tony Ellison, Cedric Peterson and Stanley Berryhill III were all targeted more often.
Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin knows that’s a problem.
“What we have to do is play to our team’s strengths offensively. I would say too it’s not just Khalil, I think for Shun Brown to have one touch, that’s not OK,” he said Monday at his weekly press conference. “...It’s not so much about plays, it’s players and putting them in the right position for us to be successful.”
For Brown, that might mean running more routes down the field. According to Pro Football Focus, he had a 53.3 percent catch rate on deep throws (20+ yards) last season, which was the highest mark among returning Pac-12 wide receivers.
Yet, even though Tate threw 11 passes 38 or more yards down the field against BYU, Brown was not the intended target on any of those throws. Poindexter and Peterson got those targets instead, and were unable to haul in a single one.
While Tate would probably be better off cutting down the number of passes he heaves down the field, he should at least be throwing them to the guy who has proven he has a knack for tracking them down.
Play to your players’ strengths, right?