The Arizona Wildcats opened as 46 point favorites over the Grambling State Tigers, so being down at halftime 21-3 isn’t exactly the way most people thought it would go. Arizona came back and scored 28 unanswered points, but it struggled against a team it shouldn’t have. I’ll start with Brandon Dawkins at QB.
Dawkins went 15/29 for 223 yards with one TD and zero INT’s. He also added 97 yards on the ground. The first half was just atrocious on offense, but he really picked it up and showed some playmaking ability in the second half. He had a long TD run, a beautiful deep pass, and made a play on a bad snap that saved about a 20-yard loss. He showed his potential at QB, but 15/29 against Grambling State is not good and he certainly has room to improve.
Running Back: C+
Nick Wilson had 24 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown which was good for 4.8 yards per carry. Orlando Bradford added four carries for 15 yards. In a game where we were supposed to see more of Bradford and J.J. Taylor, we didn’t see much of them at all, probably due to the game being a lot closer than expected. All in all, it was a good game running the ball, but could have been better and should have been better against a team like Grambling.
Wide Receivers: B
Samajie Grant led the team with 95 yards on five receptions. Trey Griffey had 74 yards on four receptions, and Cam Denson was third on the team with two receptions for 19 yards. Nate Phillips didn’t play due to a shoulder injury, so more receivers got run. Dawkins spread the ball to seven different receivers and two of those were tight ends. He did miss a lot of open guys as well, so I will give the receivers the benefit of the doubt.
Offensive Line: D+
The offensive line played better than it did against BYU, but still struggled at times. They did not allow much pressure in the backfield and Dawkins did a good job of avoiding pressure, although he did get sacked two times. Grambling also had six TFL’s as they closed off the running lanes. Arizona had three failed fourth-and-shorts, which is not a good sign against a team that they should be able to push around. There’s still a lot of room to improve.
Overall as an offense, when you get out-gained by a team from the SWAC, there is some room to improve.
Defensive Line: A
Arizona contained Grambling State to 60 yards rushing, which is better than they did last week against BYU. The Wildcats finished with five sacks: two from Parker Zellers, one from Justin Belknap, and one from DeAndre’ Miller. Zellers also had two forced fumbles. Arizona got in the backfield a lot, and Grambling did a good job of avoiding pressure, but overall the defensive line played a pretty good game.
Michael Barton finished with the most tackles among the linebackers with eight, including two for a loss. Overall, the group made a lot of plays in the game. Cody Ippolito had five tackles and two fumble recoveries, and Jake Matthews added a fumble recovery as well. Other than Ippolito getting ejected, the linebackers played a very solid game for the Wildcats.
The three interceptions were nice to see, but the secondary got picked on at times. DaVonte’ Neal didn’t play his best game and Dane Cruikshank struggled at times as well. Anthony Mariscal started in place of an injured Tellas Jones, but he also was banged up. So Tristan Cooper got a lot of run in the second half, and the true freshman from El Paso ended the game with five tackles and looked good in his debut. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles led the team in tackles with nine, adding a TFL and a pick. Between Grambling’s two QBs, they went 31/44 for 402 yards and two touchdowns and three interceptions. So, still a lot of room to improve before Washington in two weeks.
Special Teams: A
Josh Pollack only had one field goal attempt and it was good from 31 yards. He was 4/4 on XP’s. He also had four punts for an average of 48 yards which is pretty solid. J.J. Taylor had one good return where he picked it up on the bounce and went for 22 yards. Overall a good game for special teams.