I think Tate’s explosion was a bit overblown. The game against Washington State was the only game he succeeded in against a Top 50 defense (and he had a hell of a game), but by the time they got to USC, it seemed that opposing teams had him figured out and they lost 4 of their last 5.
- Colorado - 114th in Total Defense (154 yards passing, 327 yards rushing)
- UCLA - 121st in Total Defense (148 yards passing, 230 yards rushing)
- California - 79th in Total Defense (166 yards passing, 137 yards rushing)
- Washington State - 18th in Total Defense (275 yards passing, 146 yards rushing)
- USC - 61st in Total Defense (45.2% completion, 2 interceptions)
- Oregon State - 116th in Total Defense (206 yards rushing and 2 TDs, 1 pick on 7 attempts)
- Oregon - 42nd in Total Defense (159 yards passing, 2 interceptions, 32 yards rushing on 14 carries)
- Arizona State - 103rd in Total Defense (132 yards passing, 28 yards rushing on 8 carries)
- Purdue - 48th in Total Defense (302 yards passing and 5 TDs, 58 yards rushing on 20 carries)
Basically, the book on him was to keep him in the pocket and make him pass. Tate wasn’t accurate when forced to stay in the pocket and had a tendency to throw picks (8 in his last 7 games). The Arizona offense also struggled when he wasn’t able to create something (this all sounds so familiar…cough…Greg Ward…cough).
They do return most of their playmakers and almost their entire defense, but they lose 3 of their starting OL and are extremely young at that position (right now, they have a RS FR penciled in at LT). Also, even though they return most of their defense, that same defense was ranked 112th in the nation so they’ve got some work to do there.
Other big question will be how fast they can pick up the Noel Mazzone offense. It isn’t too different from what RichRod ran even though it’s an Air Raid style offense. Mazzone has mixed RPO’s into the offense and may go more in that direction to utilize Tate’s strengths.