Arizona Football

Arizona Wildcats offense has record performance behind Solomon in rout over UNLV



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Anu Solomon's 425 passing yards against UNLV were the most by a freshman quarterback in Arizona's history

Anu Solomon’s 425 passing yards against UNLV were the most by a freshman quarterback in Arizona’s history

Hello, Anu Solomon, nice to meet you. Those watching in Las Vegas, some but not all rooting for UNLV, have seen this act before.

Bishop Gorman, Class of 2013. Solomon won four state titles at the Las Vegas high school. This kind of performance is what folks in Sin City have come to expect from Solomon.

The first Arizona freshman to start the opener in the program’s Pac-10/12 existence, Solomon put his name in the school record books with 425 passing yards in Arizona’s 58-13 victory over a beleaguered UNLV defense at Arizona Stadium.


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Solomon, a redshirt freshman, also engineered a school-record 787 total yards, topping Arizona’s previous mark of 691 in 1969 against New Mexico in a 52-28 in Tucson.

When asked by Dana Cooper of KCUB (1290-AM) after the game if he envisioned this kind of explosive offensive performance, Solomon said, “Not at all, not that I can see the future. It’s a blessing to do that.”

The passing yards is the most by a freshman quarterback at Arizona, topping Keith Smith’s 418 yards in 1996 at Cal in a 56-55 four-overtime loss. The yards also are the most for an Arizona freshman quarterback’s first career start in the Pac-10/12 era, topping Willie Tuitama’s 335 yards at Oregon State in 2005 in a 29-27 win for the Wildcats.

Solomon completed 25 of 44 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions, connecting with 10 different receivers in the process.

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The Wildcats had a 400-yard passer (Solomon), two 100-yard rushers (Terris Jones-Grigsby, 124 yards on only 13 carries, and Nick Wilson, 104 yards on seven carries) and two 100-yard receivers (Austin Hill, 110, and Samajie Grant, 101).

Solomon also rushed 50 yards on eight carries His 475 total yards ranks fourth in program history.

He got off to a slow start early in the first quarter, overthrowing three passes, including one to an open receiver that could have been a touchdown.

But in the last two minutes of the quarter, Solomon engineered two quick touchdown drives to put the Wildcats ahead 14-0.


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“It’s just getting the ball to the receivers, they’re so talent all around,” Solomon told Cooper. “It’s great to have an explosive offense like this in Rich Rod’s system.”

Those scores — a 39-yard pass to Nate Phillips and a 63-yard strike to Samajie Grant — settled Solomon’s nerves.

Hill, who returned from a knee injury that kept him out of last season, also had a touchdown reception as did Notre Dame transfer DaVonte’ Neal.

A lot of other firsts for Arizona including Neal’s touchdown grab after having to sit out last year per NCAA transfer rules:

— Solomon’s first touchdown pass (to Phillips)

— Jones-Grigsby (who did his best Ka’Deem Carey imitation with his performance) rushed for his first touchdown

— Wilson’s first touchdown run, an 85-yard burst with three seconds left in the third quarter.

— Place-kicker Casey Skowron bounced back after missing his first try (a 38-yarder) by making his first (a 28-yarder in the second quarter). He made two others, from 49 and 39 yards.

— Fourth-string quarterback Conner Brewer, a Texas transfer, also scored his first touchdown with the Wildcats, a 3-yard run late in the game.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez apparently made the right move announcing Solomon as the starting quarterback on Monday after a four-player competition in fall camp. He knows what he is doing. In only his third season in Tucson, Rodriguez has coached the Wildcats to five of their six top total offense yardage marks in school history:

— 787 against UNLV tonight

— 689 against South Carolina State in 2012

— 670 against Colorado last season

— 624 against Toledo in Rodriguez’s first game with Arizona in 2012

— 617 against Stanford in 2012

“It was a big surprise to all of us,” Solomon told Cooper about Rodriguez announcing the freshman as the starter Monday. “He told everybody to be ready. After he made the announcement at the beginning of the week, I started to get the timing down with the receivers.

“It felt great out there. Many people thought I was nervous (at the start). I was more anxious than nervous.” publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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