It took the Arizona Wildcats nearly three quarters to finally find the endzone against the Grambling State Tigers. The SWAC runners-up from last year took a 21-3 lead into halftime, and Arizona was booed off its home field into the locker room.
For a while, it looked like one lucky degenerate gambler was going to make a ton of money:
Grambling 350/1 underdog vs. Arizona. $100 risked would pay $35,000! [via 5dimes]. Currently up by 11 in 3Q.— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 11, 2016
But the Wildcats turned it on late as Brandon Dawkins began to settle in during his first career college start. U of A ended up taking the game somewhat easily by a score of 31-21 as Grambling was unable to answer the Wildcats’ late run.
Here are some things to know about the game:
1. It takes time for a college QB to be effective
Tons of Arizona fans were calling for Brandon Dawkins at halftime of the BYU game. It didn’t happen. But then Anu Solomon sustained a knee injury during Wednesday’s practice, paving the way for Dawkins’ first career start.
It didn’t begin well, but it finished decently. At halftime, he was just 6-for-15 through the air for 114 yards, 70 of those on one toss to Samajie Grant. But he got it figured out, connecting with Trey Griffey on a nice ball to the sideline for one of Arizona’s TDs.
Overall, Dawkins certainly showed his athleticism, and his height allowed him to compensate for a couple of high snaps from Nathan Eldridge. At this point, it would appear that Solomon will be out for more than just this game, so if Dawkins can at least stay on this trajectory, maybe there are big things in store.
2. Arizona should run the ball more than it does
Nick Wilson had ten carries at halftime. This is not enough. With Dawkins struggling to get the ball to his receivers like he was, Arizona needed to go to the run game sooner than it did. Once the run game was firing on all cylinders, the points were coming fast and furious.
3. The Wildcats’ defense is not athletic enough
Throughout the first half, Grambling’s offense was just flat-out faster than the Arizona defense. This started with Devante Kincade, the former Ole Miss QB. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Kincade suffered an apparent severe cramp in the middle of what could have been a big run in the second quarter.
Trevon Cherry took over at that point, and was not nearly as effective. GSU did score on that drive, but a couple of his overthrows ended up being intercepted by Arizona’s defense, allowing the Wildcats to start with better field position and get the defense off the field quicker.
4. Injuries are going to plague the offense this year
In addition to Solomon, Nate Phillips did not play for a majority of the game, and was in street clothes for the second half. Gerhard de Beer also limped off at one point, but re-entered the game. Phillips is arguably the most consistent receiver on Arizona’s roster, so if he is out long-term, that will exacerbate some other issues in the passing game.