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Arizona football: Brandon Dawkins’ rib injury had an immediate impact on UCLA performance

You can’t throw well if your body won’t allow you to do what you’re used to doing. Brandon Dawkins learned that the hard way Saturday

Arizona v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

When you look at Brandon Dawkins’ numbers against the UCLA Bruins in his first true road start as the Arizona Wildcats quarterback, they’re not very impressive.

He was 8-of-17 for 73 yards, and was missing a lot of short, easy passes.

But after his touchdown pass to Samajie Grant to give Arizona an early 7-0 lead, quarterbacks coach Rod Smith noticed something wasn’t right with Dawkins right away.

“I could tell when he missed the quick hitch to Trey (Griffey),” said Smith. “(Dawkins) threw it outside to Trey, and he was a little short on his route, but I could tell that wasn’t (Brandon)’s natural motion, and I asked him ‘Are you hurting, can you complete a ball?’ and he thought he could, so he wanted to keep fighting through it.”

A rib injury is a very difficult one to deal with as a quarterback, especially one who throws the ball like Dawkins does and also relies on their running game to gain yards.

“It’s tough,” Smith continued. “It’s the torquing motion that gets you when you’re running, when you’re trying to deliver the football, so it’s just tough. It’s hard, and it takes time for that stuff to heal a little bit.”

Eventually Dawkins had to be removed in favor of Zach Werlinger at the time, and then eventually true freshman Khalil Tate.

“He was just at a breaking point where he tried to fight through it and he wanted to go,” explained Coach Smith. “I was ready to pull him, but he wanted to stay in, so I let him fight through it, show me what you can do. But when you can’t complete a ball and you can’t run, I told him you can’t hurt the team now, you gotta do what’s best, and he understood.”

“I’ll give him this though, the kid’s got guts. He couldn’t breathe.”

Now Dawkins is officially listed as questionable for this week’s game at Utah, signalling a likely scenario of Tate becoming the third starting quarterback of the season.

It’s not like Dawkins isn’t trying to get back on the field by any means necessary though.

It’ll be kind of surprising if we see Dawkins play this weekend, but don’t rule out the possibility of both Dawkins and Tate in the backfield at the same time.

“We very well could,” Coach Smith said of that possibility. “We’ve discussed it, but we could.”