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Poll: Who starts at QB for #ArizonaWildcats vs. Washington if Anu Solomon is healthy?
Two polls. Two decided results: Brandon Dawkins is the fans’ choice to start against Washington this Saturday night if Anu Solomon is healthy and ready to play. In both polls published Sunday by yours truly — on Facebook and Twitter — Dawkins was the clear favorite to be Rich Rodriguez’s No. 1 quarterback against the No. 9 Huskies.
In the Facebook poll as of this morning, Dawkins received 79.5 percent of the vote (70), followed by Solomon at 13.6 percent (12) and the “Does not matter” option at 6.8 percent (6).
In the Twitter poll, Dawkins received 57 percent of the 99 votes, followed by Solomon at 22 percent and “Does not matter” at 21 percent.
The fans have spoken, but ultimately, this is Rodriguez’s operation and he gets paid the big bucks to make such decisions. The fifth-year coach at Arizona did not directly talk about the quarterback controversy during yesterday’s weekly press conference, but he addressed the issue after Saturday’s 47-28 win over Hawaii at Arizona Stadium.
When asked if Solomon has lost his starting role to Dawkins, Rodriguez said: “That’s a fair question but it’s not fair for me to answer. I think Anu’s a really good quarterback when he’s healthy. I’m hoping he’s healthy so we have two starting quarterbacks.”
Fans chose Dawkins as the overwhelming favorite because of his ability to run and make plays rolling out of the pocket, either with a gain with some angry running — “He tries to score a touchdown every time he runs,” Rodriguez said — or by finding the open receiver.
Solomon showed little of that versatility in the season-opening 18-16 loss against BYU. Perhaps shell-shocked from last season’s concussion problems, Solomon appeared hesitant to scramble for yards against BYU. The sack he took late in the first half against BYU that resulted in a long missed field goal proved to be a difference in the outcome.
Dawkins is Arizona’s second-leading rusher with 215 yards on 31 carries. Solomon had seven carries for minus-20 yards against BYU, a result of four sacks.
“Dawk is virtually guaranteed the start,” fan Tim Emory wrote about the poll on Facebook. “Not only is Anu unwilling to run, he has a bad knee and would be restricted regardless. Then there’s the question of Anu even being ready? It’s Dawk and hold onto our butts, he’s gonna be running for his life (against Washington’s vaunted defense).”
Arizona fan Bill McCulloch: “I don’t think Solomon has the confidence in himself anymore. That’s a HUGE liability. … You’ve got to cut your losses and develop your QB of the future. We’re not going anywhere this season, so you might as well develop for next season. Sad to say after only 3 games, but if we get blown out at home it’s just a precursor of things to come in conference play. Just my opinion.”
In his two-plus years as an Arizona quarterback, Solomon has established himself as one of the best at that position in the program’s history in terms of stats.
His 6,673 career passing yards rank fourth in school history with the possibility of breaking the record mark of 10,011 by Nick Foles still achievable. His 48 touchdown passes rank third on the Arizona record charts behind Foles and Willie Tuitama, each with 67.
Solomon’s experience with 26 starts as compared to only two by Dawkins (because Solomon was out with a knee injury) against Grambling State and Hawaii does not register with a majority of Arizona fans. Some continue to support Solomon as Arizona’s starting quarterback and leader.
Arizona fan Brett Michael Miller posted this comment on Facebook: “The question was IF he (Solomon) is healthy, that is assuming he is 100 percent and ready to go, obviously if he is not 100 percent then Dawkins starts BUT if Anu is 100 percent I say RR will start him because Dawkins is still unproven against a real defense, however, Anu will be on a short leash and whatever else happens Dawkins will get plenty of time to play in that game so they can evaluate if he can do these things against a real defense.”
Regardless of Anu Solomon’s health, does RichRod have any choice at QB against UW? Has to be Brandon Dawkins, right?
RichRod on Brandon Dawkins vs. Hawaii: “His eyes were in the right spot… He was decisive.”
The other option, of course, is utilizing both. The danger there is that when Dawkins replaces Solomon, the Washington defense will know chances are that Dawkins was inserted to run as the first option. That can stretch the Huskies’ defense but their personnel with a projected seven to be drafted by the NFL, can certainly adjust.
Also, throwing against a Washington secondary with All-Pac-12 players Budda Baker and Kevin King is different than passing against Grambling and Hawaii. Is Dawkins experienced enough or prepared to handle that kind of challenge?
Although a majority of the fans want Dawkins to start against Washington even if Solomon is healthy, my vote is to stick with the veteran in the Pac-12 opener. Solomon deserves to uphold that responsibility of getting Arizona on the right track with the conference season starting.
If the season comes undone against a tough conference schedule — Washington, UCLA, Utah, Stanford, USC and Washington State are next — then employ Dawkins more and even give freshman Khalil Tate some snaps.
Tate, a four-star recruit who was rated the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback by Rivals last season, tweeted this after Saturday’s game against Hawaii:
Ready to get up out of here lol
Arizona fans hope Tate was tweeting about leaving Arizona Stadium for the evening, but, well, I’ll leave that up to your interpretation.
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.