One of the hottest issues after Arizona’s loss to BYU on Saturday night was the quarterback play and Rich Rodriguez believes Anu Solomon's performance has mixed results.
“He competed,” Rodriguez said of Solomon. “He made some plays, but he also missed some plays he normally would make. He saw the field well at times and other times he didn’t see it as well as he has in the past.”
Rodriguez was quick to say that Solomon was not the only one making mistakes.
“Coach Smith and I have a lot of confidence he can make those plays going forward, we just have to do that as a group,” he said.
“There were some veterans that made some mental mistakes they normally wouldn’t make and those are things I know will get corrected in a hurry.”
It looked as if Solomon was hesitant to run at times, but Rodriguez saw that he was more hesitant to throw.
“There were a couple times he could have ran, but not as many times running as just throwing it,” he said. “We weren’t sure how they were going to play us and they played us in a couple different coverages we had seen before, but we recognized it really quickly in the first quarter and communicated it with the guys.
“We just missed some open things that normally we would not miss. There were a couple times where maybe he could have ran, but more than anything stepping up and hitting a couple of big throws like he is accustomed to doing.”
Solomon’s struggles led to Rodriguez considering inserting Brandon Dawkins into the game.
“There were times I was close to putting him in the game Saturday just to get him a couple series because he does bring a different element and he’s a good athlete and can run,” Rodriguez said.
“I would have liked to have gotten him in there a couple series, but it was just weird because we only had 30 plays and limited possessions in the first half.”
As of now, Rodriguez feels that there isn’t a big gap between Solomon and Dawkins.
“It’s close,” he said. “The thing Anu had brought was experience and seeing the field and are things Brandon is getting better at.
“I don’t like to have a guy play any position where he thinks he he makes any mistake he is going to be pulled out. I want him to play freely and without stress as far as making mistakes, but at quarterback you certainly have to be productive and make the right decisions.”
Although he did not come out and say it, Rodriguez insinuated that Dawkins’ knowledge of the offense is holding him back.
“We put a lot on our quarterbacks,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not just the pass game, there are a lot of times in the run game where the quarterback is making the decision.
“Typically they get better as the season goes along, but Anu has enough experience that he will correct those mistakes. The biggest thing for Brandon is having a command of the entire offense and being accurate on some of his throws, but he’s gotten better.
“If we’re moving the ball and scoring, great, we will leave the guy in there. If we’re not, we may not. It’s not complicated science.”
Solomon did not say much after Saturday’s result, but was quick to blame himself for the loss.
“He is harder on himself than we are,” Rodriguez said. “Coach Smith and I are pretty hard on him sometimes and I think the quarterback naturally feels the brunt of everything when your team doesn't play well or doesn't win.
“He’s conscientious enough to understand it. Yesterday’s practice, there were a couple things he did in practice we wanted to see in a game and he was determined to do it. He is a lot more competitive than maybe lets on with his personality and he will get better.
“It’s never one guy. Certainly everybody wants to play better and you want everybody to take ownership of it, but we didn’t lose that game because of Anu Solomon. We lost the game because we didn't coach or play as well as we can.”