The brunt of UCLA’s preparation for its Week 7 matchup with Arizona will focus on a player the Bruins likely didn’t notice for the first five weeks of the season. Khalil Tate touched the ball just 19 times in the entire month of September. In that span, he accumulated just more than 100 yards of offense. He didn’t score a single touchdown, though he did toss an interception. Tate, it seemed, wouldn’t be much of a concern.
And then came a Week 6 road trip to Colorado.
Arizona starting quarterback Brandon Dawkins got hurt at the end of a short run on the opening possession when Colorado’s Isaiah Oliver and a host of others drove him into the Buffalo bench. Enter Tate. Over the next four quarters, the backup set an FBS record with 327 yards on the ground, the most ever by a quarterback, finding the end zone four times while averaging a staggering 23.4 yards per carry in the 45-42 upset.
His performance earned a tweet from Lebron James, who commented on an Instagram post highlighting Tate’s numbers: “Sheesh!!!”
And, of course, it earned the attention of UCLA coach Jim Mora.
“It’s hard to play these running quarterbacks because it tempers your ability to just turn it loose and go because if you create escape lanes, you’re really going to pay for it,” Mora said at his press conference on Monday. “We’ve just got to make sure we’re very disciplined in the way we rush [the quarterback] and that we keep our eyes on him and that we’re able to get off blocks.”
UCLA has played running quarterbacks before, most recently Colorado’s Steven Montez, who is more pass than run but still poses the threat of scrambling. If that’s a preview of how the UCLA defense handles a mobile quarterback, it may spell trouble for the Bruins. While UCLA ended up with a 27-23 win over the Buffs, it came in spite of Montez running for 108 yards on 15 carries while throwing for another 243 and a score.
While Tate has not been named the starter outright — coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Tate and Dawkins will be “co-starters” — it is expected that Tate will be the one under center to begin the game, which kicks off in Arizona at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.
The post UCLA keeping its eyes on Arizona’s Khalil Tate ahead of Week 7 matchup appeared first on Diehards.
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