TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon saved one last big smile after a statistically spectacular debut Friday night for the end of the postgame news conference.
The redshirt freshman, a former star at Bishop Gorman High School, asked the assembled media if anyone knew the result of the Gaels’ game against Servite in California.
Upon hearing Gorman pulled away in the second half for a 48-27 victory, Solomon beamed and pumped his fist.
“I’m a very proud alum,” he said. “I’m proud of my boys.”
He led the Gaels to plenty of victories during his four years at the school. If Friday was any indication, he’s also going to win a whole bunch at Arizona.
Solomon completed 25 of 44 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns in his first collegiate start. He also ran for 50 yards in a 58-13 victory over UNLV.
He admitted the matchup against the school from his hometown provided extra motivation.
“Of course. I know some of the guys on the team, and a few of them tried to cheap-shot me today, but it’s all good,” he said with a laugh. “UNLV is on the rise. They’re a good team. I just wish them luck.”
As good as the Wildcats looked offensively, Solomon lamented the missed opportunities despite setting an Arizona freshman record for passing yards.
“If I didn’t make so many mistakes, I felt like we could have made more yards,” he said.
That’s hard to imagine.
Arizona racked up 787 total yards. Solomon’s touchdown passes included a 92-yarder to Austin Hill on the first play of the second half.
It was a great start to the second half after Solomon and the Wildcats failed to score on their first two possessions of the game.
“Anu did a good job keeping his poise, even though he missed a lot of throws early,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He didn’t seem overly nervous. Mentally, he was pretty sharp. It’s just a couple of his throws sailed on him.”
Rodriguez cautioned against reading too much into the impressive numbers that Solomon posted.
“Let me watch the film,” Rodriguez said. “He got a lot of yards because our field position was so poor. If you keep starting inside the 20, you’re going to have long drives. We missed a few, too. He had 425 yards, but he could have had 700 if we didn’t miss a few things.”
The freshman was just as critical of his performance.
“I’ve got to shore up the little things,” he said. “Putting the ball on receivers more and not overthrowing them, those sorts of things. Plus, I felt a little slow tonight. We’ve got to pick up the tempo.”
That’s a scary thought for Arizona’s opponents.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.