Gunner Cruz had a chance to solidify himself as Arizona’s starting quarterback with a strong performance against San Diego State. Instead, he opened the door to a discussion.
Cruz never found a rhythm in the 38-14 loss, completing just 10 of 17 passes for 90 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He played deep into the third quarter, leading Arizona to just seven points in 11 drives before being replaced by Will Plummer. The second-year quarterback completed 8 of 17 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
With neither signal-caller being markedly better than the other, it leaves Jedd Fisch “completely unsure” which one will start next Saturday against NAU.
“One of the two of them will start, I know that,” he said. “I took Gunner out for a few reasons, I didn’t just take Gunner out because we weren’t moving the ball. Donovan Laie got hurt, Jordan Morgan got taken out of the game. We didn’t have our left tackle, we didn’t have our left guard, the game was a little bit out of hand, but not completely. He was getting hit pretty good back there, and we weren’t doing a good enough job to help him, so I wanted to see if we could get a spark, change it up a little bit, a different dynamic with Will. He came in and he came in slinging, and I appreciate that.”
With the offensive line in bad shape, Plummer’s mobility and willingness to take risks with the ball could make him the better option. Cruz was often caught holding the ball too long, causing him to be sacked three times and miss some open receivers.
Plummer, on the other hand, completed a 54-yard pass to Tayvian Cunningham by squeezing a deep pass into double coverage.
“I think what Will did was Will competed,” Fisch said. “He came in and didn’t worry about the scoreboard and just played hard like we asked our team to do. And I think we probably had about six or seven 3-and-outs on defense in the second half, too. They kept competing and they kept fighting and Will did the same thing. Will came in and he said ‘hey, the score is the score. I’m gonna try to go out there and make plays and do what I’m supposed to do and play the position the way I’ve been coached to play it.’ Will’s got a chance to be a good player for us, as does Gunner.
“I didn’t know it was Will’s first touchdown in college. Maybe I would have been nicer after it. My mind was a little bit elsewhere on how we can find a way to get a stop and get a score again and try to use some timeouts to get the ball back with 5:30 left. I was excited about the play he made to Tayvian also. He stood back there, and he’s got some moxie about him. Both quarterbacks will probably play next week again.”
While splitting reps sounds tough, Plummer sees some advantages in it.
“It’s always kind of good to see somebody else in there doing it and see the problems that we’re having and the success we’re having, and where it’s coming from some,” he said. “[Cruz] was getting pressured a little bit, and I knew that if I got my chance that I just had to kind of hang in there and try to make my reads.”