West Coast Offense: Khalil Tate Runs Wild

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So…what can be said about Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate’s performance in a 45-42 Saturday at Colorado that wasn’t already expressed by an exasperated Buffs cheerleader?

While the utter shock on one observer’s face nicely summarizes Khalil Tate’s FBS quarterback record 327 yards rushing with four touchdowns on the ground and a fifth passing, plenty more can be said.

Let’s start with Arizona radio broadcaster Brian Jeffries, who deemed Tate, “the Magic Man.”

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has some worthwhile insight into Khalil Tate’s night.

“It was one of those nights. He was better than everybody on the field,” MacIntyre said. “There were 22 people on the field; he was 1 and then there were 21 others weren’t near as good as him.”

“He was faster than anybody on our team, and powerful,” MacIntyre added. “We couldn’t tackle him. Three of the players were broken plays, where we stopped it and he ran the other way.”

Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez has coached some talented running quarterbacks in his day. Dating back to Shaun King in Tulane’s remarkable 1998 season, when Rodriguez served as the Green Wave’s offensive coordinator, the Wildcats head coach has been synonymous with the increasingly popular use of zone-read quarterbacks.

“We knew he could run a little bit, but he was even faster than we thought,” Rodriguez said of Tate. “Fortunately for us, we’ve had a couple guys in the past — Pat White, Dernard Robinson, Brandon [Dawkins] — we needed every bit of it.”

Pat White was one of the most electrifying zone-read quarterbacks as the system started to really gain popularity, in part because of the success Rodriguez had with White captaining some West Virginia teams. As a freshman in 2005, White led the Mountaineers to a Sugar Bowl win. Two years later, he had West Virginia in the thick of a national championship hunt.

Denard Robinson ranks second all-time among quarterbacks for career rushing yards, trailing only Navy great Keenan Reynolds. On Rodriguez’s 2010 Michigan team, Robinson rushed for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns — Heisman caliber numbers were he a running back, say nothing of doing some from the quarterback position.

And, despite his struggles a few times this season — most notably a few turnovers in a narrow loss Sept. 22 vs. Utah — Brandon Dawkins came into 2017 trailing only USF’s Quinton Flowers and Heisman winner Lamar Jackson for rushing yards among quarterbacks. Despite some rumblings calling for Khalil Tate to take over, Dawkins’ previous flashes of brilliance and experience kept him as the Wildcats’ starter.

But after he put on a show exceeding even the best of greats like White and Robinson — coupled with an efficient 11-of-12 passing — Khalil Tate is the talk of college football. The impressive passing touch, coupled with the explosive running, looked reminiscent of the former Tulane star King.

Considering MacIntyre declared Tate “won the game singlehandedly,” Rodriguez has much to consider ahead of Saturday’s game with UCLA. The Bruins rank next-to-last nationally in rush defense.

The “Shock” of Gary Andersen Stepping Down

Various coaches around the Pac-12 expressed the same sentiment in hearing of former Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen’s decision to leave the Beavers midway through a disappointing, 1-5 start to the season: Shock.

Opinions on Tuesday’s conference call were kept to a minimum. Details of the decision are still limited, and everyone asked wisely avoided a potential Tracy Claeys situation.

MacIntyre, who noted he was not aware of every detail, gave perhaps the most candid answer — fitting, because he and Andersen followed somewhat similar career paths. The two coached against one another in the dying days of the Western Athletic Conference, transforming two of the absolute worst programs in FBS — Utah State and San Jose State — into Top 25 teams.

They left their respective WAC homes for power-conference opportunities at the same time, though MacIntyre’s 2013 arrival at Colorado more closely resembled the situation Andersen took over at Oregon State than that which the former Beavers coach had for his brief stint at Wisconsin.

“I think it’s crazy he’d be leaving in the middle of two-and-a-half years, at a program that wasn’t established when he got there,” MacIntyre said. “Of course, I don’t know all the details, but you need time. There’s no doubt about it.”

MacIntyre succeeded with time, which he said the administration affored him. Colorado won 10 games and reached the Pac-12 Championship Game a season ago. After winning its final two games in 2016 in rather dominant fashion, I anticipated a similar upswing for Oregon State in 2017.

With a series of blowout losses, that prediction went out of the window. Still, having covered Oregon State’s final game with Andersen at the helm this past Saturday, nothing seemed especially amiss. Andersen spoke of positives, like generating three turnovers on defense and one on special teams, and evaluating the misfires.

There was an obvious frustration, sure. Two years earlier on the very same week, however, I covered another game in the Coliseum: Washington’s Thursday night win over USC. There were much different circumstances in that instance, but the chorus of boos that trailed Steve Sarkisian as he left the field that night were an eerily fitting end to the Sark Era.

Following the loss Saturday in Los Angeles, Oregon State seemed so normal in its struggles.

Beavers players, like cornerback Kyle White, talked of having six games — half-a-season — to right the ship. In that is the disappointing part: As Friend of the Site Michael Felder noted on Twitter, Andersen leaving now fundamentally rattles that to which the athletes committed.

Knee-jerk reaction might be to speculate what more will surface, particularly with Andersen leaving $12.6 million in buyout money on the table. It’s an understandable reaction, too, given the various, ugly splits we’ve seen in the business of college football — with emphasis on business in this instance.

But John Canzano’s report for The Oregonian suggests a decision that’s shocking in its simplicity.

Bristol vs. Seattle

Last week, the West Coast Offense documented Washington head coach Chris Petersen’s response to circulating coverage of his lamenting late-night kickoffs. Petersen dismissed it as a one-off comment blown out of proportion, and on Tuesday, stuck to his word.

“I said my piece,” Petersen said with the hint of a chuckle.

ESPN wasn’t so content to move on. While I typically hate to use the nebulous description rather than pinpoint one or two offenders, the abuse Washington took throughout the day last Saturday certainly came off like a Bristol-wide effort.

Kirk Herbstreit kicked off the day with this:

…and the telecast of Washington’s rout of Cal included a chyron of ESPN’s late-night Pac-12 ratings superimposed over Petersen…

…while also featuring a sideline segment with actual cupcakes used to represent Washington’s schedule.

The Huskies are in action this week at Arizona State, kicking off at — YOU GUESSED IT! — 10:30 p.m. ET.

QUICK HITS

  • Stanford RB Bryce Love rushed for 152 yards at a 7.62-yard-per-carry clip Saturday at Utah. It was his worst statistic performance of the season.
  • USC QB Sam Darnold threw his ninth interception of the season last week against Oregon State, matching his total for the entirety of the 2016 campaign. Despite this, Trojans head coach said the stat by which he most closely evaluates Darnold is his 14-1 record as a starting quarterback.
  • Gary Andersen’s sudden departure promises to start the Coaching Carousel early this season. The Pac-12 has a few names to keep in mind as potential prospects for head-coaching vacancies, most notably Washington and Washington State defensive coordinators Alex Grinch and Pete Kwiatkowski.