Arizona has made a change at quarterback, replacing Gunner Cruz with Will Plummer for Saturday’s game against NAU. If only that were all it took to suddenly get the offense firing on all cylinders.
Cruz noticeably struggled in the 38-14 loss to San Diego State, throwing for only 70 yards on 10-of-19 passing after going 34 of 45 for 336 yards with a touchdown in the opener against BYU. A good bit of that dropoff was his own doing, but he wasn’t alone at fault according to offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll.
“It’s across the board,” Carroll said of Arizona’s offensive miscues. “There’s some times when we’ve got guys open and we’re not protecting, there’s guys that are open but they’re not in the right spots, there’s guys that we are missing on, we’re missing on a read. It’s across the board. It always seems like it’s one or two guys per play, and it’s always different guys. We’ve got to really gain that consistency, where down after down we’re reliable.”
Arizona had left tackle Jordan Morgan back after he missed the opener due to injury, but both he and left guard Donovan Laie got hurt against SDSU. The Wildcats ended up using offensive linemen, with only center Josh McCauley and right tackle Paiton Fears playing every snap, and they ended up with the best pass-blocking grades according to Pro Football Focus.
Coach Jedd Fisch said he expects Laie and Morgan to be fine for the NAU game, but Carroll said it’s more than just having guys be healthy.
“We had a tough week last week with injuries,” he said. “We had guys miss practice. They all got into the game, which is great, but now we need to all be healthy and have a great week to practice and be consistent. We had multiple guys miss multiple spots ... but I like to think that we can overcome that. Then we had some injuries during the game, but guys jumped in and filled the roles.”
Plummer, who will be making his second career start—the previous was last December against Colorado—was 8 of 17 for 109 yards and a TD against SDSU. The TD throw to Tayvian Cunningham was the first of his college career.
“He went in there and played free, and try to find as open reads, had good command,” Carroll said of Plummer.
After the SDSU loss, Plummer said there’s a benefit to having already witnessed what Cruz was dealing with before coming into that game. He figures to use that information during practice this week.
“It’s always kind of good to see somebody else in there doing it, and see the problems that we’re having and success we’re having,” he said. “You know where it’s coming from.”