Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate isn’t sure if he’ll start or not on Saturday night against UCLA.
“Hopefully,” he said on Wednesday morning.
One would guess he would after his record-breaking performance against Colorado over the weekend. Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez hasn’t announced it and likely won’t until the kickoff at 6 p.m.
“It’s hard to justify not starting him after this, right?” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said after the game to the Arizona Daily Star.
So, until then we will see. But can we – will we? – see a repeat performance of the sophomore’s sensational day of Saturday past, where he ran and ran for 327 yards and four touchdowns?
It’s a lot to ask in as much as it was a single-game FBS rushing record for a quarterback. His individual yards of 481 yards were the fifth best in school history.
As Rodriguez said, “We needed every bit of it.”
Every. Yard. Is. Important … and will be this weekend and beyond.
Did he ever think he had that kind of game in him?
“I knew what I was capable of,” he said, “and, given the opportunity I’d show it.”
Can the mild-mannered back catch lightning in a bottle again?
Tate just wants to put his team in the “best position to win.”
Through Wednesday, Rodriguez said his one-time backup – turned possible starter? – has practiced well this week, adding that “all the quarterbacks have practiced pretty well. Khalil (does) has a little bounce in his step and rightly so.”
It’s kind of like in the game, where he bounced off tacklers a few times to have his once-in-a-lifetime game.
“It certainly came at the right time,” Rodriguez said.
He added: “For a guy who hadn’t played a whole lot, I was impressed how he was composed and how he handled it.”
It was such a big performance LeBron James tweeted about it. Tate hadn’t seen the tweet in as much as he doesn’t have a Twitter account but had heard about it.
Yup, he’s understated.
He’s also more poised about being the quarterback at Arizona, a year after Rodriguez admitted Tate should have been redshirted last season. Tate said he understands the game better and “is more knowledgeable.”
“A lot of things are happening slower for me.”
It’s the only thing that’s slow. He’s become more 4G than 3G in a season. He lost close to 15 pounds from a season ago, going from 222 to 208.
“I’m more in shape and (that) helps on the big runs and (with) the right reads,” Tate said.
What did Rodriguez find out that he hadn’t already known about Tate?
“He’s a little faster than I thought,” Rodriguez said. “It’s as fast as he’s run since he’s been here. And he saw the field better.”
Another test comes Saturday. Maybe, this time as the starter.