Don't compare Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate to former NFL star QB Michael Vick.
Vick does come to mind when one watches Tate slash through defenses. But Oregon State interim coach Cory Hall does not like the idea of putting them side to side.
Hall played with Vick when they were members of the Atlanta Falcons. He emphasized that Vick was a special player at the NFL level.
"I'm not going to take away from Tate, but Michael Vick? Come on now," Hall said. "I understand the comparison because he's a mobile quarterback and he's made extraordinary plays with his feet. But now you're talking about the difference of 4.2, 4.1 as to, I don't know what Khalil Tate runs his 40.
"Now you're going to make the comparison of a guy who has already played Sunday ball and sometimes I think that is downplayed a little when you make comparisons to NFLers and you start putting labels on collegiate athletes and they don't even realize that it's not fair to them."
So Tate might not be Vick, but he certainly has been a terror for Pac-12 defenses.
Tate hit the conference like a wave washing over unsuspecting beachgoers.
Tate played sparingly early in the season and was out for two games entirely. His breakout game came in a 45-42 win against Colorado, taking the Buffaloes by surprise.
Tate rushed for 327 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries. He also completed 12 of 13 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown in the win.
He has torn through the conference with his ability to hit big run plays with his elusiveness and breakaway speed.
Going into Saturday's game against Oregon State, Tate has 1,087 yards on 95 carries in seven games, an average of 11.4 yards a play. He has scored nine touchdowns with a long of 82 yards.
"He's fast, he's shifty, he's got a strong arm," defensive back Omar Hicks-Onu said. "All you've got to do is turn on ESPN. He's a Heisman contender. He's a good football player but we're good football players, too."
After Colorado, Tate had 230 yards and two TDs in a 47-30 win against UCLA, 137 yards and a score in a 45-44 overtime win against Cal and 146 yards and two touchdowns in a 58-37 dismantling of Washington State.
"They probably didn't know what was ahead of them," Hicks-Onu said. "He had that good game against Colorado and I'm sure Colorado was throwing out the game plan. And then I'm sure other teams thought it was a fluke, but you can see that he is consistently good at what he does."
Last week he had 161 yards and a score but couldn't get the Wildcats over the top at USC in a 49-35 loss.
Tate is also a threat as a passer. He has completed 60 of 98 passes for 930 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions. His best game came at WSU, where he was 10 of 17 for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's a fast kid, got that track speed. But we're going to use our athletes on the edge to keep him in the box," said linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu, who must sit out the first half of Saturday's game after being called for a targeting penalty in the second half against Cal.
"The successful throws that I've seen on tape are off the run. So as long we can keep him in the pocket and make him beat us with his arm as a pocket passer, then he's not going to be able to do that."
Linebacker Kee Whetzel said the key is to take Tate out of his comfort zone and force him to stay in the pocket.
"Just stop his running ability, really, because that's what opens up the pass, so we've really got to keep a spy on him when he's passing the ball because he can still scramble while he's passing," Whetzel said. "And then on run plays and the run-pass option, we'll have a guy for the dive play but also a guy for him just in case he pulls it. We've really just got to stop his running ability."
"So we're excited to go against him and we've got to do whatever it takes to stop him. I think if we can take him out of the game that makes it easier for us to get the W."