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Arizona vs Nevada: Position group grades for the Wildcats

Anu Solomon proves to be a game manager and the defense is still a liability

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats looked much better in their second game of the year than the first, taking down the Nevada Wolf Pack by a score of 44-20.

Here's a look at how we think each position group fared in Reno.


Anu Solomon has become more of a game manager this season, and has been very strong in the intermediate passing game. Nevada wasn't doing anything spectacular on defense, but Solomon still proved to have strong command in the pocket.

Solomon went down with a calf injury, but came back just one play later. It was a substantial lead, and I would have been perfectly okay with Solomon sitting the rest of the 4th quarter, avoiding any unnecessary contact on an injury that proved to nag him all season long like in 2014.

Jerrard Randall came in and crashed the party, rushing on his first attempt for just three yards. On his second run though, he broke off for a 57-yard run right down the middle of the field on a read option play, leaving Rich Rodriguez grinning on the sideline.

If Randall could get his passing down, he could be a great situational, change of pace kind of guy for Arizona and add an entirely new element to the arsenal.

Overall grade: A-

Running Backs

Nick Wilson was without a doubt the best player on the field. Averaging just over nine yards a carry, he finished with 192 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with two receptions for 30 yards. He did "fumble" after the ruling on the field "could not be overturned", which is concerning considering that's his second of the season, after fumbling only once last season.

Orlando Bradford made an appearance in the 4th quarter and his first run busted out a 32-yard run, bouncing off defenders and moving forward. He averaged 9.4 yards a carry, with a total of 47 yards to end the day.

Jared Baker only had three touches, and they all came to start the second half. Finishing with three carries for five yards, Baker doesn't seem to be getting the carries we once thought he would. It was clear that he wasn't going to be a Terris Jones-Grigsby, but having just three carries, all after halftime, is a little odd.

We also saw Jamardre Cobb being used in the offense as a fullback, and he was actually thrown to on the goal line for a touchdown. It makes you wonder if this could be something regular, possibly being used as a fullback on the goal line, with the potential to catch outside of the backfield and into the flats.

Overall grade: A+

Wide Recivers

Cayleb Jones had his Cayleb Jones-type day, going over 100 yards on six catches. Arizona's next biggest receiver, David Richards, had himself another good game, going 52 yards on three receptions.

Nate Phillips continues to be a healthy option for Anu Solomon in the slot, snagging five balls for 32 yards. Samajie Grant came back from his suspension, and caught three for 18 yards.

Johnny Jackson only had two catches for 14 yards, but one of those was the first touchdown of the game. With a healthier group, it's clear that he fell down a bit on the list of Anu's targets, as Nate Phillips proved to be a solid option.

The most impressive part of the wide receiver group for me was the downfield blocking all game long.

Overall grade: B+

Offensive Line

The offensive line was much improved from last week, which could be attributed to the addition of Freddie Tagaloa and the improved chemistry, or just a lack of pressure from the Wolf Pack. There were two 4th down conversions where Arizona got completely blown up on a short yardage situation, which is never good.

Nick Wilson was able to hit the holes and Anu Solomon wasn't scrambling nearly as much as last week, but he was sacked twice.

One thing I found impressive with the offensive line was the fact that they were able to run with Jerrard Randall efficiently, with all three of his rushes essentially being designed quarterback runs, sweeping to the outside. The line moved great to protect a quarterback with almost an entirely different skill set than Solomon.

Overall grade: B

Defensive Line

Arizona finally recorded a sack, and it came from a defensive lineman in Jeff Worthy. It probably should have been a safety, but the way the officiating went, it shouldn't be surprising that it wasn't. Aside from the sack, the defensive line once again didn't do much to impress. Nevada didn't have much of a run game, so maybe it was the defensive line. No player had more than five tackles, which is odd, but Reggie Gilbert led the defensive line with three tackles, which seems pretty meh for a guy of his talents.

Overall grade: C


Scooby can't come back soon enough. Injuries hit the linebackers once again, and Arizona was playing some guys who shouldn't really ever have to play. Nevada was going straight through the middle and the linebackers just could not seem to get it together once again. Haden Gregory , Scooby's replacement, left the game with an injury after recording just one tackle. It was up to Tre Tyler, a walk-on redshirt freshman checking in at 5-11 205lbs, who finished the day with 4 tackles, one shy of leading the team.

Jake Matthews and Derrick Turituri played well and that's about it. The weak spot of the defense continues to be very frustrating to watch after two weeks.

Overall grade: D+


When it comes to corners, they did their job and have yet to allow a big play. No longer are teams attacking them deep, but more in the intermediate game, right over the middle. Now, the corners seem to be further away from the receiver than last year, allowing quarterbacks to get those seven to eight yard completions with ease.

The safeties continue to operate efficiently, with Tellas Jones and William Parks leading with five tackles. Jamar Allah got himself another takeaway, this one by the way of an interception on a jump ball in double coverage.

Paul Magloire didn't deliver a big hit this week, which is kind of disappointing.

Overall grade: B

Special Teams

Riggleman only had to punt twice and averaged over 40 yards, which should be the benchmark of this season. He also landed one inside the 20 yard line. Anu Solomon also got involved, and he had a marvelous punt for 12 yards.

Skowron, went 1/2, with both attempts being 45+ yards. He missed the first from 45 yards out in the third quarter, but came back in the 4th and knocked down a 46 yard field goal. He did, however, miss an extra point.

What was also great to see from Phillips was the consistency in the punt return game. When he's back there returning, I'm not nearly as nervous as I would be if DaVonte' Neal were still there. He also lets everyone around him know to get away from the ball, and he doesn't follow the ball after every bounce like Neal does, which was always frustrating. One punt did bounce off Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles however. No harm, no foul since it went out of bounds.

Overall grade: C