Do the Arizona Wildcats have a quarterback controversy?
Not according to Kevin Sumlin who after UA’s 41-14 loss to USC said the depth chart remains the same heading into next Saturday’s road game at Stanford.
It came on the heels of senior Khalil Tate having a second consecutive rough outing, completing 6 of 10 passes for 42 yards before being relieved by freshman Grant Gunnell, who completed 16 of 26 passes for 196 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception—albeit most of those numbers were posted when the game was out of reach.
Is continuing to start Tate the right move or should Arizona give way to the future and let Gunnell take the reins? Our staff picked their QB of choice. We’d love to get your opinions in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — Grant Gunnell
I think the time has come for the torch to be passed, but there’s a caveat: if the offensive line can’t get back on track, the risk of Gunnell getting hurt because of lack of protection may outweigh the rewards of getting him prepped for the future.
Khalil Tate has made a lot of bad decisions over his career, particularly the last few weeks, but that has coincided with Arizona losing both starting guards to injury. Had that not happened this discussion probably wouldn’t be happening, but such is life.
Gunnell hasn’t looked the least bit scared, even after USC brought the house early against him and knocked him to the ground several times. He’s going to get beaten up a bunch more by the likes of Stanford, Oregon, Utah and ASU and if he can get through that in one piece the future looks very bright.
It would be nice to find a way to keep Tate involved in some way, maybe with some Wildcat packages or whatnot. For all of his recent flaws, his many feats shouldn’t be so quickly forgotten.
Christian Mortensen — Khalil Tate
While I know that Tate has been terrible the last couple of games, I refuse to be a prisoner of the moment and declare that Gunnell should be inserted as QB1 for the Stanford game.
I don’t see Kevin Sumlin coming to the conclusion either.
As bad as Tate was against both Washington and USC, everyone needs to remember that we are literally still just two weeks removed from his spectacular game winning performance against Colorado — when analysts both on this site and around the country were singing his praises.
It’s unfortunate that the fact that Gunnell isn’t going to be redshirted creates something of a quarterback controversy, because I just don’t think the big Texan should be inserted next weekend in Palo Alto.
I’d give Tate the respect he deserves as a senior and start him against the Cardinal and see which version of the mercurial QB shows up.
However, if he plays like he has the last couple of weeks and Arizona loses for the third straight week...my opinion might just change on who should start the must win game against Oregon State.
Adam Green — Grant Gunnell
The thing is that when Arizona elected to pull Khalil Tate early in the second half of Saturday’s loss to USC the decision for next week was also made. Quite simply, you cannot pull the senior out of the game — one in which he wasn’t playing great but, also, wasn’t so obviously the issue — and expect to go back to him.
That’s why it almost did not matter how Gunnell played during his half or so of football in SoCal. He made some good throws, yes, though it’s fair to wonder if the defense had softened up by the time he really started to get going. But even if the freshman had looked bad, barring injury he would be the guy not only for next week, but the rest of the season.
The good news is that if Gunnell can take hold of the starting job and play well, then the team’s future at the position will look bright. The real shame is that as quickly and awesomely as Tate burst onto the scene just two years ago, it appears he is set to fade into the background just as suddenly.
Scott Moran — Grant Gunnell
If I were coaching the Wildcats this season, I would probably start Tate the remainder of the season and save Gunnell’s redshirt and hope to get a four-year starter career from him. Kevin Sumlin has made it clear that he won’t do that though, and since this team needs a spark and probably needs to make a bowl, Gunnell is the answer.
I still consider myself lucky to be an Arizona student at the same time Tate was the starting quarterback. For all the terrible decisions that have seemingly gotten worse as he gained experience, Tate still made absolute magic for Arizona a lot during his career, and deserves to be remembered for that.
This season, Arizona needs to show progress, and a bowl with a tough schedule is a good litmus test for that. The simple fact is that Gunnell gives the Wildcats the best chance to win two more games, especially with the next two games being the most winnable. Gunnell has played well for a freshman, and fits well in Arizona’s offense. Seems like a good idea to me, although its borderline tragic that Tate’s career as UA’s starter might be over.
Brandon Combs — Grant Gunnell
I think we need to see more of Grant. It’s time.
And I don’t make this decision based on the fact that Arizona has lost its last two games. I make it due to Tate’s decision-making. I also take into account the offensive line hasn’t been the greatest at protecting Tate the past two games.
Ever since last year, Tate has been consistently running out of bounds for sacks instead of just throwing the ball away. The bad part about this year is that it has really killed offensive drives for Arizona against USC and Washington. That kind of thing cannot happen.
Say what you want about Noel Mazzone, but there is zero....ZERO chance he hasn’t worked with Tate on this. Mazzone knows quarterbacks and he knows quarterbacks shouldn’t just take “sacks” and kill their offensive momentum. I can’t imagine how crazy this must drive him.
Tate also doesn’t seem like he’s seeing the field like he was earlier this season. That isn’t good. It shows regression. It shows that he can’t stay calm.
Speaking of calm, Tate has played scared and frantic the past two games. If you have a clean pocket...stay in it. If you can’t, use your God-given talents and escape or make a play. There’s been a few instances of Tate having a clean pocket and he bolts for a sack or run out of bounds for a “sack.”
We won’t mention the left-handed backwards pass or anything like that because it’s just too painful.
Now I’m not saying Gunnell is perfect. He’s going to make mistakes. But man, his ability to see the field and make great decisions is pretty amazing for a true freshman. And it’s only going to get better. I think the Gunnell era needs to start sooner than expected.
Ryan Kelapire — Grant Gunnell
This is an easy decision for me. If you aren’t going to redshirt Gunnell—and Arizona isn’t—he needs to be QB1.
The Wildcats have shown they are not a good team no matter who’s given the nod, but starting Gunnell adds intrigue for fans—that is important since this program struggles to get people to games—and it allows Gunnell to gain some valuable experience before his first full season as a starter next year.
Aside from QB, Arizona will have a very experienced roster next season, so getting Gunnell through some of those growing pains now could pay big dividends come 2020.
That, to me, is more important than riding it out with Tate, who has been maddening to watch ever since Sumlin and his staff took over, and nothing suggests that will ever change.
Who should be Arizona’s starting QB at Stanford?
This poll is closed