The Arizona State football team needs to find a way to get its offense started earlier. Despite solid second-half performances, the Sun Devils have been outscored 42-28 in the first quarter this season.
The University of Arizona football team just needs to find a way to keep all of its players on the field. After last week’s loss to UCLA, head coach Rich Rodriguez said he had “about 28 guys” on the injury report, 18 of whom were starters.
But both teams have a similar problem in common tonight. A problem even more serious.
Each team is expected to have a young quarterback under center who will be making his first college start.
Manny Wilkins led the Sun Devils to a 4-0 start before being hurt in the first half of last week’s loss to USC. The sophomore watched the second half of the game on crutches and a boot on his left foot. He worked out sparingly at practice this week and head coach Todd Graham has called him “doubtful” for tonight’s game with UCLA.
That will likely bring Brady White back onto the field. White, a redshirt freshman who was ASU’s highest-rated recruit in the Class of 2015 and had battled Wilkins for the starting spot, finished the USC game – which gives him more experience than any of the other QB hopefuls on the roster.
White, who is considered to have the strongest arm in the bunch, completed six of 13 pass attempts for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Wilkins isn’t expected to be out of the lineup for long, but while he is Graham is down to a true freshman, Dillon Sterling-Cole, as the back-up. Bryce Perkins, the redshirt freshman from Chandler High School, was in the mix for the starting job, but suffered a neck injury in pre-season practice and hasn’t returned to the rotation.
Down the road in Tucson, Rodriguez is already down to his third-string quarterback.
Two-year starter Anu Solomon played just one game before a knee injury sidelined him. His replacement, Brandon Dawkins, hurt his ribs in last week’s loss at UCLA and is expected to watch tonight’s Utah game from the sidelines.
That brought true freshman Kahlil Tate into the game in the second half, and likely back under center to start tonight. A four-star recruit from California, Tate wasn’t even supposed to play this season. Rodriguez had hopes to be able to give him a redshirt season to extend his availability since Solomon graduates next year.
Tate was able to give his coach a little ray of sunshine with a solid performance that contributed 151 yards of offense. He completed 5-of-9 pass attempts for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while also carrying the ball 15 times himself, for another 79 yards.
It was the first time in eight years that the Wildcats have had to insert a true freshman into a game.
Arizona will have its second straight road game, playing in Salt Lake City, while the Sun Devils will be at home in Tempe.
Normally, playing at home is an advantage. Under Graham, ASU has won 25 of its 31 games played in Sun Devil Stadium. But that may not be the case tonight, if history mean anything.
The last four games between ASU and UCLA have been won by the road team.