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Hawaii vs. Arizona: Wildcats’ position group grades

The offense played well. The defense? Not so much.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats’ offense got back on track in their 47-28 win over the Hawaii Warriors. Nick Wilson went down in the first quarter with an ankle injury and it opened the door for J.J. Taylor, who ran for 168 yards. Brandon Dawkins also had a great game, and we'll start our grading there.

Quarterback: A+

After a very slow start against Grambling State last week, UA's offense got back on track largely due to the improved play of Dawkins. In Arizona's first two drives, Dawkins came out and led the team to two 80-plus yard touchdown drives. He made good decisions, got the ball out quickly, and showed why he could be very effective in this offense. He finished 16-for-21 for 235 yards and one touchdown. Plus, he had 15 carries for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

Running Back: A+

Wilson seemed to have rolled his ankle in the first quarter and with Orlando Bradford recently being dismissed from the team, Taylor got his chance to shine. Taylor tallied 168 rushing yards on 15 carries and scored one touchdown. He showed his arsenal of moves in the open field and consistently made defenders miss. Hopefully Wilson will be ready to go against the Washington Huskies, but Taylor showed he can be a reliable — and explosive — running back.

Wide Receivers: B+

Nine Arizona receivers caught passes for a total of 235 yards and one touchdown. Shun Brown, who made noise in fall camp, started and had himself a break-out game, recording five receptions for 92 yards. Nate Phillips had three receptions for 35 yards after sitting out last week with a shoulder injury.

Offensive Line: B+

Arizona's offensive line paved the way for 347 rushing yards, while allowing zero sacks. And with starting right guard Jacob Alsadek and starting right tackle Gerhard De Beer out with injuries, it makes it easy to give the offensive line a high grade. The o-line has been continually improving, but the real test will be next week against Washington.

Defensive Line: C+

Arizona allowed 177 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The Wildcats only had one sack courtesy of DeAndre Miller, who is kind of a lineman. However, they did create pressure and made the Hawaii quarterbacks scramble a bit. Only two defensive tackles recorded tackles with Jack Banda and Calvin Allen recording one each. Not a bad game, but not a good one.

Linebackers: C+

Cody Ippolito had to sit out the first half due to his targeting ejection last week. The starters this week were Jake Matthews, Paul Magloire Jr., and Michael Barton. Barton and Magloire each recorded eight tackles, but as a whole Arizona’s tackling was very poor once again, so I can’t give the linebackers too high of a grade.

Defensive Backs: C-

Hawaii passed for 261 yards, one touchdown and one interception. That isn’t too bad from Arizona’s standpoint. Tellas Jones was out for the second straight week, but this time Tristan Cooper got the start, surpassing Anthony Mariscal in the pecking order.

And Cooper took advantage.

The true freshman from El Paso caused the tipped pass interception ,which was caught by Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. Cooper also had eight solo tackles as well. Isaiah Hayes got picked on a bit, but had five tackles. Hayes has been practicing with the safeties all camp and moved to corner this week, so it was kind of a learning experience for him. The tackling — and the entire defense as a whole — was an issue in the second half and it must get better before the Huskies come to town next week.

Special Teams: B+

Josh Pollack made all of his extra point attempts and both of his field goal attempts. He also had four punts and averaged 47 yards per punt, which is solid.

Pollack pinned one of them on the one-yard line as the first half ended.

On the returning side of things, Arizona had three punt returns for a total of 10 net yards, but also had one muffed punt, with Shun Brown being the culprit.

As far as punting and kicking goes this year, Pollack has been better than expected, but the return game is as lackluster as usual.