After a dismal year, the Arizona Wildcats finished on the right note and sent the seniors out the way they deserve to be sent off. They beat the Arizona State Sun Devils 56-35 and brought the Territorial Cup back to Tucson.
Let’s delve into the position group performances:
Brandon Dawkins completed only three passes on eight attempts in the game...and I’m okay with that. To be honest, the passing game didn’t even need to be used. Dawkins caused catastrophic damage to the Sparky defense using his legs, gaining 183 yards on 12 carries, scoring two touchdowns. I will say that Dawkins had a great 64-yard pass to a wide open Nate Phillips. Dawkins did a phenomenal job managing the game and looked to be back in pre-rib injury, pre-concussion form.
Running Backs: A+
511 rushing yards. That sets an Arizona school record for rushing yards in a game, and is the most ASU has ever given up. I mean, both Zach Green and Samajie Grant sliced the Sparky defense up with massive runs on a consistent basis.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A-
The receivers/ends did a great job when passes were catchable. The rest of the time, they did a fantastic job of providing run block support on the edge for the backs and quarterback.
Nate Phillips was the leading receiver with 68 yards on two catches including a 64-yard touchdown catch. Tight end Josh Kern also had a catch for nine yards.
Offensive Line: A+
This was the first game where the offensive line looked like a cohesive unit. They owned Sparky’s defensive line and owned the line of scrimmage. There were holes large enough to fit barges through and they even did a great job in pass protection when it was needed. Overall, a very strong performance by the big boys up front.
Defensive Line: B+
I thought the defensive line applied great pressure on Manny Wilkins all night. They did a great job of tackling and finishing plays. There were D-linemen 6 yards down the field smashing people. The only complaint I have is that they were unable to come up with a sack after consistently panicking Wilkins.
The entire linebacker corps was flying all over the place. The top three leading tacklers for the game were linebackers. The tackling for the group was borderline perfect and so was their awareness of the ball carrier. Every single backer that came in to play played out of their mind.
It was nice to see DeAndre’ Miller out there running sideline to sideline. Of note, it was also nice seeing both Paul Magloire Jr. and Jake Matthews come up with huge stops on third and fourth down respectively.
So, the secondary had some really nice plays. DaVonte’ Neal had a nice interception and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles had a couple of pass breakups. Freshmen Isaiah Hayes and Tristan Cooper played extremely physical before both left with injuries. Kwesi Mashack came in and had a pretty big pass breakup. Same with Jace Whittaker.
The safeties, however, did get beat twice for touchdowns and there was a little bit of sloppy play. I will say there were a couple of penalties called on the secondary that I didn’t agree with (“pass interference” on Dane Cruikshank in the first quarter and Jarvis McCall targeting). Even though the secondary allowed over 300 passing yards, most coming on bubble screens, they played a pretty solid game.
Special Teams: A
The special teams have all of the sudden gotten a lot better. Jake Glatting had some really nice punts, including two that were inside the 20-yard line.