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Arizona re-evaluating quarterback situation ahead of Oregon game

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Northern Arizona v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats released their depth chart for the Oregon game Monday, listing three quarterbacks—Gunner Cruz, Will Plummer, and Jordan McCloud—as co-starters.

Head coach Jedd Fisch said he will see how practice goes Tuesday and Wednesday before deciding who to roll with against Ducks. The Wildcats are coming off a historic loss to NAU in which Plummer started and threw for 191 yards and a touchdown, but also two interceptions.

Pro Football Focus gives Arizona’s passing game a 50.5 grade, the worst in the Pac-12.

“Clearly, we have to get better quarterback play,” Fisch said.

Fisch said Plummer got almost every rep in practice last week—and was sharp—but it didn’t translate to the game.

“I think we all saw some guys open on Saturday night that we couldn’t take advantage of,” Fisch said. “Then you have to reevaluate and say OK, will Jordan give us a better chance? I don’t know that We’ll see what Jordan looks like out there.”

McCloud entered in the fourth quarter against NAU—his first appearance of the season—and went 6 for 7 for 66 yards and a touchdown, bringing the Wildcats within two points with 2:16 left. It may have been enough to earn him the nod against Oregon. If so, he’ll already be the third QB to start for Arizona this season.

“Jordan has played more, he’s started more games than those guys, he came in with good poise, led us down the field,” Fisch said. “The two-point play wasn’t what we were looking for. We were looking to kick a swing pass out to Stanley (Berryhill) to get in there, and we didn’t get that executed.”

Of course, by making so many quarterback changes, Fisch is contributing to a problem he said he wanted to avoid. That is, making his quarterbacks play with the fear of getting pulled. So Fisch was asked Monday how to balance performance-related decisions with the need to give his young signal-callers a chance to learn from their mistakes.

“I mean, it’s a great question and what we’re going through that ourselves,” Fisch said. “And sometimes with the younger quarterbacks— and I told this to both the young guys, to Cruz and to Plummer— there’s a lot of times that guys benefit the most from watching, from being on the sideline and actually seeing.

“Like it was amazing how quickly Cruz could say what Will should have done while it was going on. You can kind of look out there and say, ‘oh, hit the corner’ or ‘Hey, get it out there quickly to the swing.’ Whatever it might be. But when you’re going through it, it’s hard, it’s fast. So I think it got to the point that it was the right time to make the change to give Jordan, who had a little bit more experience, to get him in the game. And then I think what we’ll have to do now is to say, ‘What’s the best way to move forward?’ We’ve got this week and then a bye week, and then when we go eight in a row. And can we get to that point when we get to eight in a row that we’re able to go with one guy, let him be the starter throughout, use the bye week is another set of practices, and then from that point on, ride that guy from here.”