Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats QB Anu Solomon does not have to apologize to anyone

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Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon does not have to apologize to anyone, including his coach, Rich Rodriguez.

Why should he have to say sorry? He is a competitor and should have no regrets, only resolve.

Solomon made many mistakes against Boise State in Arizona’s 38-30 loss in the Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday. His last blunder was most pronounced, taking a sack in the waning seconds instead of throwing the ball away, allowing the game to end with Arizona at the Boise State 10 yard-line.

That sack (Boise State’s eighth) was one of 72 plays that involved Solomon, who attempted 49 passes and had 23 rushing attempts (most coming on broken plays in which he had to muster something out of nothing).

Solomon accounted for 67.9 percent of Arizona’s 105 plays from scrimmage. That’s a lot to ask from any quarterback, let alone one who is a redshirt freshman and unaccustomed to playing a game like the Fiesta Bowl.

When Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota was a redshirt freshman, he also played in the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon defeated Kansas State 35-17 without having to rely heavily on Mariota.

Total number of plays involving Mariota in that game: 32 (24 pass attempts, with only 12 completions, and only eight rushing attempts). Oregon had 69 plays overall, which means Mariota was involved in only 46.4 percent of them.

Translation: Rodriguez and his staff are asking too much of Solomon.

The offensive line was porous. Receivers dropped passes and ran wrong routes or gave up on them. The defense put Arizona in too much of a hole by allowing two big scoring plays in the first quarter.

Ironically, Arizona got itself in position to possibly tie the game because of Solomon’s contribution. He completed 21 of 36 passes for 262 yards in the second half. The last play will resonate, however.

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Rich Rodriguez shows his dismay over Arizona losing to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl (ESPN screen shot)

Rich Rodriguez shows his dismay over Arizona losing to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl (ESPN screen shot)

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Solomon had other mistakes. His two interceptions were poor throws without his feet planted. Both of them resulted in touchdowns for Boise State, one of them a return for a score in the third quarter.

Solomon is as responsible for the loss as anyone. Placed in a spot in which he was part of too many plays, Solomon became the most responsible in the eyes of many.

The most responsible should be Rodriguez and his staff. They were too reliant on Solomon. They have recruited receiving talent around him, but that has not always translated into precision for the offense.

Out of anybody’s control was the injury to Nick Wilson in the first half that affected Arizona’s running game after halftime. The Wildcats had only 34 yards rushing in the second half, mostly because Solomon was sacked seven times, five times in the fourth quarter.

If Solomon felt compelled to apologize so should everybody on Arizona’s team from Rodriguez to the offensive line.

Arizona played a team that would contend annually with Oregon and Stanford for the Pac-12 North title. The Broncos played in their third Fiesta Bowl in seven years and they won all of them. Not many Pac-12 teams can claim that kind of success. Boise State is legitimate.

Conversely, Arizona is new to all of this. The Wildcats showed they are not ready for the elevated national stage losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game and to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. Arizona has not been on that kind of plateau for 21 years, before Solomon was born.

With all of the variables, it is unfair to put the onus on Solomon for Wednesday’s loss.

He does not have to apologize to anyone.

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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