Arizona's Offensive Firepower By: Rob Kleifield and Alec White

Plenty of players are poised to breakout this season, but here are the Wildcats most dependable offensive players. These are the guys that have already put their talents on display – Arizona’s very best on offense by position.


Khalil Tate

6-foot-2, 215lbs. – Junior – Inglewood, Calif.

Career Stats: Passing - 129 of 224, 1834 yards, 17 touchdowns | Rushing - 1648 yards, 8.2 yards per carry, 13 touchdowns

Tate set the Pac-12 on fire when he replaced Brandon Dawkins as Arizona’s starting quarterback during the fifth game last season. After pummeling Colorado en route to setting the FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game, with 327, Tate went on to compile two more 200-plus-yard-rushing performances.

Aided by two offensive minds, head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, Tate’s game should reach new heights in 2018. The only player in conference history to earn four straight Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors will be counted on to put Arizona in contention for the Pac-12 South Title.

Tate’s progression as a pocket-passer will be something to watch as he tries to keep defenses on their toes and away from completely committing to stopping the run. If the junior tops his 2017 numbers, Arizona’s offense will be in good hands.


J.J. Taylor

5-foot-6, 184lbs. – Redshirt Sophomore – Corona, Calif.

Career Stats: 1108 yards rushing, 6.0 yards per carry, 9 total touchdowns

Taylor was named the Pac-12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2017. This season he’ll look to shoulder a heavier workload, now that 2017 seniors Nick Wilson and Zach Green are out of the backfield. With bigger backs like Gary Brightwell and Nathan Tilford chomping at the bit to get their reps, it will be up to Taylor to confirm his role as the Wildcats' lead ball carrier.

If Taylor is able to manage increased touches, Arizona will have a legitimate one-two punch on the ground. Due to Khalil Tate’s running ability taking precedence from a defensive standpoint, Taylor should see plenty of opportunities to find a hole in the front-seven.

He has an arsenal of jukes and spins that make him lethal in open field. Finding that extra gear in space will help Taylor’s big-play ability, and that bodes well for Arizona’s offense.


Shun Brown

5-foot-10, 188lbs. – Senior – Shreveport, La.

Career Stats: 76 receptions, 1118 yards, 9 touchdowns, 2 punt return touchdowns

Since seeing minimal action as a true freshman, Brown has put together a quality resume as one of the Wildcats' most reliable playmakers. In 2017, Brown added to his list of impressive feats by housing a pair of punt returns.

There have been several do-it-all types of receivers that have played at Arizona either before or during Brown’s career – namely Samajie Grant, Nate Phillips and fellow 2018 senior Tony Ellison, but Brown has a chance to cement legacy in his final campaign.

Much of the success he’s had has been out of the slot, and he’s shown he’s capable of reeling in tightly contested catches from Tate. Whether it's his deceiving size and strength or his burst of speed, Brown obtains an skill set that can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. Brown will be one of Tate’s top targets again this season.


Bryce Wolma

6-foot-3, 252 lbs. – Sophomore – Saline, Mich.

Career stats: 28 receptions, 241 yards, 2 touchdowns

Wolma corralled 28 receptions last season – the most for an Arizona true freshman tight end since Rob Gronkowski in 2008 – despite the tight end position not being an integral piece of Rich-Rod’s offense.

Now that Noel Mazzone is calling the plays and Kevin Sumlin has taken responsibility for coaching the tight end group, Wolma’s production will likely go up in his second season. Although the sophomore is nowhere near as physically imposing as Gronkowski, Wolma holds his own as an in-line blocker and hand-in-the-dirt pass-catcher.

There were several times in 2017 when Wolma bailed Khalil Tate out of pressure by moving with his quarterback outside of the pocket and reacting to the flow of the defense. If given the opportunity to be more of a pass-catcher this year, Wolma has the chance to develop into a go-to option.


Nathan Eldridge

6-foot-3, 292 lbs. – Redshirt Junior – Anthem, Ariz.

Eldridge is one of Arizona’s biggest question marks at this point in time. Head coach Kevin Sumlin has suggested during offseason press conferences that Eldridge is not a part of the first-team offense at this point. Formerly, he was the Wildcats' best offensive lineman. In 2017, Eldridge was voted Pac-12 All-Conference Honorable Mention. Prior to the 2018 season, he was named to the Rimington Trophy Preseason Watch List, which is the annual award given to the nation’s top center.

Now, Eldridge might not even suit up for the Wildcats in week one versus BYU. After struggling to compete in the majority of spring practices and fall camp because of lingering injuries, Eldridge’s availability for the 2018 home opener doesn’t seem likely.

Eldridge has started all 25 games that he’s played in since becoming the anchor of the Wildcats' offensive line in 2016. During that span, Arizona has regularly fielded one of the countries most efficient, and most productive, rushing attacks. In back-to-back seasons, the Wildcats averaged more than 225 rushing-yards per game.


Carmen Valencia, Heather Newberry and Simon Asher

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