With the way that last season ended, there is some increased pressure on Anu Solomon to perform well this season.
After watching his quarterback in the spring, Rich Rodriguez believes Solomon has already made a major jump since last season.
“He made his biggest jump robably in the spring,” Rodriguez said. “He was a little bigger, little faster, little stronger. Had a better knowledge of the offense.
“I thought he did really well last year in his first year as a starter. I think the other part of it is we know what his strengths and weaknesses are at crunch time as well.”
Solomon may not be known as a vocal leader, but that doesn’t mean football isn’t important to him.
“I think he's not a rah-rah guy,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a good leader, but he's a little bit more quiet in that respect.
“He’s worked extremely hard in the off-season, and it's important to him. It's the thing I can assure you about Anu Solomon is that football's important to him and he's going to be a better player every year.”
When watching Solomon, he may not have any physical attributes that jump right at you and Rodriguez compares him to a past quarterback in that regard.
“Oh, he can throw pretty good,” Rodriguez said. “He's a better runner than you think. He's a strong kid. One of the strengths I think he has, which is kind of a new quality, is that when we do have an open guy he usually finds him and hits him.
“I always use the story of Shaun King, who played for me at Tulane and we went undefeated that year. He had a phenomenal year. Everybody asked what were his greatest strengths?
“In that year he never missed an open touchdown throw. In other words, you call a play and it matched up right and the guy's going to be open for the touchdown, and the quarterback missed him or he under threw it or overthrew it.
“I think Shaun was a hundred percent that year and Anu is not a hundred percent, but he's pretty good with that.”
This will be the first season since arriving at Arizona that Rodriguez will have the same starting quarterback for consecutive years.
“It's like I tell our players, having a starter return is good if he played well when he started, which Anu did, and if he's better,” Rodriguez said.
“I thought Anu played well for the most part and I think he's better, so that part makes you excited.”