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Tate runs away from Pac-12 foes

October 18, 2017 GMT

Khalil Tate has one start and two Pac-12 offensive player of the week honors this season.

Since coming off the bench as an injury replacement two weeks ago, the Arizona sophomore has run for 557 yards to become the first FBS quarterback in 20 years to have back-to-back 200-yard rushing games.

Tate might be saving coach Rich Rodriguez’s job by leading the Wildcats to back-to-back wins over Colorado and UCLA, and there’s a sudden optimism in Tucson because of the quarterback who was beaten out for the starting job by Brandon Dawkins.

“Brandon outplayed him in August,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “It was close coming into the season, but Khalil was still learning during his second season in the program and Brandon had a good camp.”

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Tate played sparingly in the first two games of the year before injuring his shoulder. When Tate was healthy, Rodriguez wanted to play him for at least a series against Colorado. On the opening possession of that game, Dawkins took a late hit out of bounds that knocked him into a bench and out of the game.

Just a couple of minutes later, Tate scored on a 58-yard run and added a 28-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Tate also had touchdown runs of 47 and 75 yards during the 45-42 victory, setting the FBS single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 327.

“We had seen some of that in practice, but he runs faster in the games,” Rodriguez said. “We thought he was pretty fast, but he’s even faster. Most of the time we can judge how a guy will perform in the game, but Khalil has open-field speed.”

Tate followed up with 230 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 47-30 victory over UCLA. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder is averaging 19.2 yards on 29 carries during the past two weeks.

He has forced opponents to respect his arm as well, completing 21 of 26 passes for 302 yards

“He’s got, what, 900 yards of offense the last couple weeks?” said Cal coach Justin Wilcox, whose Bears host Arizona on Saturday. “He’s a talented runner who’s operating the offense real well. He is efficient and effective as a passer.”

Dawkins has been the best of the second-string quarterbacks so far in a season when half of the Pac-12 teams have needed go to their backup plan behind center.

Stanford freshman R.J. Costello led the Cardinal to victories over UCLA and Arizona State before Keller Chryst returned for Saturday’s win over Oregon.

Tyler Hilinski threw three touchdown passes to help Washington State rally from a 21-point deficit to defeat Boise State 47-44 last month after Luke Falk got hurt.

Utah has lost two games in a row since quarterback Tyler Huntley was injured, and Oregon can say the same thing with Justin Herbert out.

Oregon State is 0-3 since Jake Luton was injured.