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Arizona vs. ASU: Grading the Wildcats' loss to the Sun Devils

Trying to put grades to things that happened

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

If this season were some sort of class, the Arizona Wildcats didn't exactly ace their final exam against the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Here are the grades I give each position group for the loss.

Quarterbacks: B-

This would have been a solid F heading into the final moments of the second quarter. But the surprising performance by Brandon Dawkins changed that in a big way.

Jerrard Randall got the start in place of an injured Anu Solomon, and promptly when 4-of-13 through the air for 35 yards.

The final incompletion of his night, and possibly career, was a rocket behind Nate Phillips on third down. Phillips started screaming at Randall as they came off the field, and that was the last we would see of the LSU transfer.

Brandon Dawkins entered, and gave this team the kind of spark that Randall had given it in previous games, namely Colorado. The redshirt freshman ended up throwing for 305 yards on 16-of-30 passing. He also had two touchdowns, including the second-longest in school history, a 95-yarder to Trey Griffey.

Yes, he threw two pick-sixes with the chance to tie the game on the line. But Arizona isn't in that position without him. He brought the team back, and made it respectable. He also had a nice little touchdown scamper at the end to make it a 15-point loss instead of 22.

Running backs: F

This is mostly the offensive line's fault, but I'll get to that in a second. Nick Wilson and Jared Baker had nine carries between them, and only gained nine yards. That would have been one of the least-productive games on the ground in the history of Arizona football, but the quarterbacks had 100 yards on 25 carries. Still, no running game doomed Arizona in Tempe again. Two years ago, they weren't able to establish anything with Ka'Deem Carey. This year, same story.

Wide receivers: B

Arizona's receivers were making some plays, especially the aforementioned Griffey touchdown. Trey had another big grab for 43 yards later in the game. Cayleb Jones was making some nice plays, and Johnny Jackson was making his presence felt as well. Tyrell Johnson even got in the act with a touchdown grab on a wheel route. After Samajie Grant was forced out of the game early with a likely concussion, I thought it would be bad news for the receiving corps, but they stepped up in a big way to help out Dawkins the best they could.

Offensive line: F-

This is where Arizona's problems on offense start and end. Without Freddie Tagaloa at guard, this team struggles to get anything going up the middle, which results in the running backs having the kind of day they had. Cayman Bundage's snaps were not out of the ordinary bad, and Randall and Dawkins were able to field them better than Anu Solomon usually does, but it still sends the offensive unit out of its rhythm.

If Dawkins had any kind of consistent protection, I think he finds a way to win this game. But he just wasn't given that opportunity by the guys up front.

Defensive line: B+

Arizona had two sacks and nine tackles for loss against the Sun Devils. A few big gains led to ASU having two 100-yard rushers, but don't feel that was on the defensive line as a whole. Another thing to keep an eye on heading into the bowl game is the status of Luca Bruno. He was being helped off the field afterwards with a right leg injury.

Linebackers: A

Considering all the injuries that have happened to this position, I think they should be pretty damn proud of themselves for the way they performed in their final regular season game. Paul Magloire was making plays, including a forced fumble. Sir Thomas Jackson was doing a lot of really good things. DeAndre' Miller may have had the best game of his Arizona career with a sack and three tackles for loss (five tackles total). Good stuff from them.

Secondary: D

Wow the corners were bad in this one. Cam Denson was his usual, inconsistent self. DaVonte' Neal was struggling to keep up and make plays. It was not a good look from the starting corners.

The safeties were playing alright, even with Jamar Allah out due to a foot/ankle injury. William Parks led the team with nine tackles, and even had a couple for loss. Guys like Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and Devin Holiday were forced into action and didn't look too bad. But the big reason Arizona had such an early deficit was the inability to cover ASU's receivers. I mean hell, Tellas Jones was forced to play some corner for a bit because Neal and Denson couldn't get the job done. If there's one position Arizona needs to get better at next year, it's corner.

Special teams: A+

Casey Skowron: 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 46. 4-for-4 on extra points.

Drew Riggleman: Seven punts for an average of 46.4. For a while in the first half, it looked like he would be Arizona's MVP votes winner.

I don't even count returns anymore because Arizona doesn't do them. Good job kickers. Those are two guys that are going to be TOUGH to replace next year.