TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate failed to live up to the Heisman Trophy hype a year ago, hampered by injuries and a new offensive system.
Now that he's healthy and has a better grasp of how second-year coach Kevin Sumlin wants him to run the offense, Tate is again proving to be one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks.
Rejoining the Heisman conversation may be a stretch, but Tate certainly garners the attention of any opposing coach trying to slow him down.
"Throws the ball very well and when he pulls it and runs, he's a threat to hit a home run every single time," Texas Tech coach Matt Wells said.
Wells and his staff get a chance to see if they can slow Tate on Saturday in the Red Raiders' first big test of the season.
Texas Tech (2-0) rolled over Montana State and UTEP by a combined score of 83-13, but facing Tate and Arizona on the road — in the heat, no less — will be a challenge unlike any the Red Raiders have faced in their first season under Wells.
The Wildcats' offense, led by a healthy Tate, has been productive so far this season, averaging 51.5 points through the first two games.
Arizona's problems have stemmed from its defense. The Wildcats (1-1) lost their opener to Hawaii because they couldn't stop the Rainbow Warriors and had a letdown in the second half last week, allowing FCS Northern Arizona to score 41 points.
Arizona will have to get things fixed in a hurry against the Red Raiders, who have been one of the nation's most prolific offenses since Mike Leach was the coach. Texas Tech has averaged 41.5 points and 557.5 yards of offense through two games.
"If there's pressure on our offense there will be pressure on theirs, too," Sumlin said. "That's football. The offense's job is to score one more point than the opponent to win. And the defense's job is to stop them every time. Does that work? No, but that's what your goal is."
With an over/under set at 76 points, oddsmakers are expecting it to be a high-scoring game. Here are a few more things to look for:
PRODUCTIVE BOWMAN: Alan Bowman followed the example set by previous Texas Tech quarterbacks by racking up huge numbers last season. He threw for 2,638 yards and 17 touchdowns, second-most in program history by a freshman, and had a 605-yard game against Houston.
Bowman has gotten his sophomore season off to a stellar start, throwing for 713 yards and five touchdowns while completing 73% of his passes through two games.
Arizona must find a way to get pressure on Bowman — an issue early in the season — or he could pick the Wildcats apart.
TURNOVER TIME: Arizona has been adept at taking the ball from opposing teams, entering Saturday's game with an FBS-best eight takeaways. The Wildcats did not commit a turnover against NAU and face a Texas Tech team that has yet to force a turnover.
SUPER LINEBACKERS: Two of the nation's best linebackers will be on the same field Saturday night.
Texas Tech senior Jordyn Brooks led the team in tackles each of the past two seasons and is off to a stellar start in 2019 with 11 tackles in each of the first two games.
Arizona's Colin Schooler doesn't have the same kind of numbers, but he also only played the first half against Northern Arizona as the coaches gave him time to rest up in a lopsided game. The junior has 35.5 tackles for loss in 27 career games, including 21.5 last season.