Let me first say I’m pulling for Khalil Tate. Who isn’t? He’s exciting to watch and equally as difficult to stop … when all is working right and he’s healthy.
But what’s in store for Arizona’s senior quarterback is anyone’s guess. It’s like asking the Magic 8 Ball for answers: Reply hazy, ask again later.
We shall all see soon given Arizona is on the clock with the first game less than two weeks away against Hawaii on the road Aug. 24.
What’s important – or so it would seem – everyone to a man has said Tate has matured from a season ago, taking more control of the team all the while making good decisions.
I wrote that it was great to hear in the Spring and it’s even better now given the immediacy of what’s ahead. Now, it’ll be if hearing is believing.
So, when I asked if he feels more comfortable at quarterback than the last two years, he said, “I’m very comfortable. Like I’ve said, it comes with time. Things sometime happen overnight but, in reality, for most things it takes a lot of repetition. And last year there was a lot of repetition for us.”
But it came with little success, given it turned into a losing season (5-7) in Kevin Sumlin’s first season.
“The first year is going to be kind of rocky,” Tate said on Saturday on the final day of fall camp. “Things are always gong to be different. But with time and things, things are starting become easier.”
Easier is one thing, better is another. Will Tate be the running quarterback who can throw or the throwing quarterback who can run? Again, it’s anyone’s guess. Most have said he’s better at the former than the latter.
He did say he’s 100 percent healthy, and over his ankle injury that hampered him most of last season. Then there was the shoulder injury and toe injury he revealed to Sports Illustrated recently that also had him slowed last season.
“I’m healthy,” Tate said. “When I’m healthy, I can do a lot … as you guys have seen in the past.”
But can he come up with the magic of the past? Two seasons ago, he appeared all but unstoppable … at least for a month, one that helped him rush for 1,411 on the season. Last season, he rushed for 16 percent of that (224 yards) in what almost appeared to be a skittish attempt at running the ball. He did, however, pass for a career-high 2,530 yards and 26 touchdowns.
When asked if he’s looking to replicate his sophomore year of run, run, run and maybe pass – if, of course, he is healthy, he said, “I’m looking to win games. Winning games is the most important thing as a quarterback. Once we win games that’s my main goal.”
Heading into the final two weeks before the team’s first game, he said the camp “went well” and the team is headed to “finding our identity and making sure who we are.”
For now, that too is a work in progress. After all, what quarterback will he be? He does say – like others have – that he’s grown a lot in being “that leader that everybody comes to.” He also has the team making him accountable, as well.
That, too, will be something to watch. When asked how he has taken strides in leadership, he said it’s how one takes losses.
“When you take losses, first you see who is around you, and who stays around and you see how much better you can do,” he said. “I thank my family for staying together and with me where there was a rough situation. Everybody around me made sure I was healthy and was on my side.”
Which begs the question: How has Tate matured when it comes to handling the tough times when losses happen? Last season, he was snarky and short with responses a time or two when UA lost and some of his decisions on the field were questioned. He didn’t answer the question.
“Hopefully, we will get more wins,” he said. “With the wins, you guys (media) ask easier questions. With the wins, that’ll die down.”
We will soon see. Tate, you’re on the clock … and many are pulling for you, especially when things don’t go well.