Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate has done it again … and this time he has done something nobody has ever accomplished.
Tate won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week award, it was announced Monday.
He had good competition this week, including USC running back Ronald Jones II (216 rushing yards, two touchdowns at Arizona State) and Colorado quarterback Steven Montez (347 passing yards, four total touchdowns in a win over Cal).
But Tate’s performance in a 57-38 victory over then-No. 15 Washington State was too dynamic to deny him the award again, which is done by voting from select media (disclosure: including me). The sophomore threw for a career-high 275 yards on 10-of-17 passing against the Cougars, also rushing for 146 yards. He accounted for three touchdowns and directed an offense that produced seven plays of 40-plus yards.
“If you stop the run, you still have to stop the pass,” Tate said of opposing defenses on the Pac-12 Network after the game. “They just have to pick their poison.”
Earlier Monday, Tate picked up a national honor, selected as one of 18 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, which is given to the nation’s top player. That’s amazing for a player who only played briefly in two September games — he missed two entirely dealing with a shoulder injury suffered in Week 2 against Houston.
But Tate’s October was unlike anything seen at Arizona (and at most schools). He rushed for 840 yards in four games, including touchdown runs of 58, 28, 47, 75, 45, 71, 76 and 49 yards. He ripped off an 82-yard run down to the 2 last week against Washington State.
Tate ranks third nationally in rushing with 154.3 yards per game and has a rush of at least 70 yards in four consecutive games. His passing efficiency rating of 188.55 would rank third in the country, but he doesn’t yet have enough pass attempts per game to qualify.
Tate has led Arizona (6-2, 4-1) to four consecutive victories and a No. 23 ranking, its first appearance in the AP poll in more than two seasons. The Wildcats play at No. 17 USC (7-2, 5-1) on Saturday night.
“Watching them a little bit offensively, especially the last four weeks, they’ve changed the dynamic of their team by changing the quarterback,” USC head coach Clay Helton told reporters. “One of the things coach Rich (Rodriguez) does is an unbelievable job of being able to tinker his system based on what personnel he has.”