Some Pac-12 teams encountering midseason QB challenges
By ANNE M. PETERSON
Oct. 24, 2017
Arizona's quarterback situation was resolved in a big way three games ago when Khalil Tate took over.
While half of the Pac-12's teams are holding steady with quarterbacks that started the season, a handful haven't had the same success as the Wildcats in navigating a midseason QB quandary. Injuries have taken a toll on Oregon, Oregon State and Utah. At Colorado, there's a quarterback competition.
What's happening with the teams facing quarterback challenges:
WILDCATS WIN: Arizona has won three straight as Tate has taken over, and he has simultaneously won three straight Pac-12 offensive Player of the Week honors. The last player to win the honor three straight weeks was USC's Rodney Peete in 1988.
Tate, a mobile 6-foot-2 sophomore, has accounted for 1,162 yards in total offense over the last three games. He's rushed for 694 yards in those games and scored 11 touchdowns.
"He is exceeding my expectations, but not from a production standpoint. With the small amount of experience he's had, he recognizes mistakes very quickly," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "His demeanor and calmness has also been exceptional. He loves to compete and loves the game. He is certainly taking advantage of his opportunities."
With Tate on a roll, the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) host Washington State (7-1, 4-1) on Saturday.
LOSING LUTON: Oregon State had high hopes this season for Jake Luton, a junior college transfer. But his tenure as the Beavers' starter lasted just four games when he sustained a thoracic spine fracture in a 52-23 loss at Washington State. He is officially listed as week-to-week.
"I think Jake is on a really good course as far as healing," interim head coach Cory Hall said. "Of course if you talk to Jake, he wants to play now. But I think he's progressing ahead of schedule."
The Beavers, who can't seem to catch a break at quarterback, got a scare when Luton's replacement, Darell Garretson, briefly left the field in a 36-33 loss to Colorado on Oct. 14. The Beavers (1-6, 0-4) had a bye last weekend in preparation for this Thursday's game against Stanford (5-2, 4-1).
Oregon State moved redshirt freshman Mason Moran from safety to cornerback after it was revealed last week that junior receiver Seth Collins would be out indefinitely with health issues. Collins played quarterback for the Beavers his freshman year and was considered an option at the position should injuries pile up.
HERBERT'S RETURN? The Ducks saw a welcome sight in practice Tuesday when Justin Herbert was seen at practice in pads. But most likely freshman Braxton Burmeister will start again on Saturday for the Ducks (4-4, 1-4) against Utah (4-3, 1-3).
Herbert fractured his collarbone on his non-throwing side against California on Sept. 30. Oregon has lost three straight since, with Burmeister adjusting to the starting role.
As a result, Oregon has had to depend on the run.
Oregon coach Willie Taggart said Burmeister is growing but that it is important to remember that at this time last year he was playing high school football.
"I just constantly talk to him about trying to get better and not trying necessarily to win the game for us, but just run our offense and be efficient with it. When there's plays to be made we have to make them, especially plays that we know, we have to capitalize on those plays," Taggart said. "And don't try to do too much, don't do more than we're asking you to do. That's hard because he is a competitive guy and he really wants to help this football team."
Oregon is walking a fine line, with the risk of rushing Herbert back too soon and the desire to become bowl eligible.
COLORADO COMPETITION: Frustrated by a 28-0 loss to Washington State, Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre opened a quarterback competition between Steven Montez and Sam Noyer this week.
Montez, the team's starter in all of Colorado's games this season, struggled against the Cougars — completing just four passes for 21 yards — before he was benched in the second half. He shared first-team snaps with Noyer, a redshirt freshman, on Monday.
MacIntyre said he won't make a decision about his starter until gametime on Saturday, when the Buffaloes (4-4, 1-4) visit California (4-4, 1-4).
HUNTLEY RETURNS: While starting quarterback Tyler Huntley was out with a right arm injury, Utah lost a pair of games to No. 20 Stanford and No. 21 USC. The Utes welcomed him back last week, but the team sputtered on offense in a 31-10 loss to Arizona State.
Huntley threw four interceptions: Two of the picks were jumped routes, one came off a drop and the other was an overthrow that may have been a bad route.
Coach Kyle Whittingham said he's sticking with Huntley while he shakes off the injury. The Utes have a three-game losing streak going into Saturday's game against the Ducks in Eugene.
"Tyler is our guy and he will continue to be our guy. Obviously, he was a little rusty," Whittingham said Monday. "I anticipated Tyler to have a little more effective game, but he was a little rusty and not 100 percent."
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