Khalil Tate made his first collegiate start in the Arizona’s 48-14 loss to USC and there’s no doubt the freshman struggled from the get go facing some of the best talent in college football.
“I think sometimes when you’re thrown in there you’re not as ready and that showed for him,” said Rich Rodriguez following the game. “I don’t want to say he was nervous because he’s not the nervous type. Maybe the enormity of going out there is not as impactful.”
Despite leading the team in rushing with 76 yards, Tate struggled to read coverages against a relentless USC defense that limited the freshman to just seven of 18 complete passes in total. This included an interception that positioned the Trojans to take a commanding 27-7 lead towards the end of the first half.
Nevertheless, Rich Rodriguez and the coaching staff understand Tate’s development is a process.
“He seemed ok during the week and at the beginning of the game but there are going to be times when a 17-year-old freshman looks like a 17-year old freshman,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a competitive guy and he competed but it was a big challenge. A lot of that challenge was because they’ve got some pretty good dudes over there.”
USC’s defense was notorious for bringing pressure on Tate all afternoon long, which affected the outcome of the game significantly in Arizona running back Zach Green’s point of view.
“From my point of view whenever we were in there they brought six on the line so they were trying to stop the run and force Khalil to throw,” Green said. “That’s just what I saw but it's clear that’s what they were trying to do the whole game.”
While uncertainty remains intact for the quarterback position at Arizona, Green and teammates have nothing but praise for Tate moving forward.
“He handled himself well,” he said. “I love Khalil because he’s a real competitive player and I know that he’s going to bounce back and this won’t set him back. We have a lot of guys on this team who are winners and he’s one of them.”