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Arizona vs. Colorado position group grades

The Wildcats’ quarterbacks obviously get an A+

Arizona v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats knocked off the Colorado Buffaloes 45-42 in Boulder on Saturday for their first Pac-12 win.

Here’s how we evaluated each of Arizona’s position groups.

Quarterbacks: A+

Not much has to be said here. There’s no such thing as a perfect game in football, but Khalil Tate came pretty darn close to having one.

Tate broke the FBS quarterback rushing record, scampering for 327 yards on just 14 carries (that’s 23.4 yards per carry).

The sophomore accounted for five touchdowns (four rushing, one passing), and also completed 11 of 12 passes for 142 yards, including a 60-yard bomb in stride to Tony Ellison down the middle of the field.

Tate had 469 yards of total offense on 26 plays, a school-record 18.04 yards per play.

Tate touchdown runs were from 58, 28, 47, and 75 yards out, and his only incompletion was the result of a drop.

And with Arizona up three with five minutes left in the fourth, Tate kept his composure and led Arizona to two first downs to ice the game — one of which was a third-down completion to freshman tight end Bryce Wolma in the flat.

Tate is evidently healthy now, and there’s no excuse for him to not be Arizona’s quarterback moving forward. He’s earned that spot and then some.

Running backs: C

Interestingly enough, Arizona’s running backs weren’t able to find much space vs. the Colorado defense.

Nick Wilson had 11 carries for 42 yards and J.J. Taylor had just 29 yards on 10 carries. Zach Green came in during a goal line situation and converted for a touchdown, so that was a positive.

Another positive: no fumbles by the running backs, which was a killer two weeks ago against Utah.

Wide receivers: B

The best part of the wide receivers’ performance Saturday was their blocking on the edge.

It let Tate get to the outside and into space, plus, the wide receivers blocked well downfield, too, allowing Tate to weave through defenders and extend his runs.

From a pass-catching standpoint, the lone blemish was a drop by Tyrell Johnson on third down that ended a drive. It was an accurate pass from Tate, and ruined the quarterback’s otherwise perfect line.

Ellison tracked the ball well on a deep ball, and Shun Brown hauled in a couple passes that were a bit high.

Brown’s major hiccup was fumbling on a bubble screen in the red zone, but in fairness, it looked like the ground caused the fumble and it should have been overturned.

But Pac-12 refs are gonna Pac-12 ref. What’re you gonna do?

Offensive line: A

I mean, Tate was able to run for 327 yards for a reason. And the pass-protection was solid when Tate dropped back. Colorado didn’t have any sacks and I didn’t recall them getting any hits on Tate at all.

The only reason why I didn’t give the o-line an A+ is because the running backs had difficulty running between the tackles — which has been a recurring issue this season.

Defensive line: C

This was an up-and-down game for the Wildcats’ defense. On one hand they produced a pass rush that led to four sacks.

On the other hand, CU running back Phillip Lindsay ran for 281 yards on 6.9 yards per carry, as the Colorado o-line was able to create gaping holes for him.

Arizona had done a good job defending the run coming into this game, but this was a step back.

Linebackers: C

Similar to the d-line, UA linebackers had an inconsistent performance. Freshmen Colin Schooler and Tony Fields II each had a sack, while DeAndre’ Miller made a noticeable impact on the pass rush in his return from injury, and Brandon Rutt posted his first sack of the season.

The pass rush was there, but the run defense was weak, as Lindsay was either able to make defenders miss or just carry UA defenders for extra yards.

Defensive backs: D+

Jace Whittaker made some nice plays on the ball at cornerback, including a pass breakup on a deep ball in the end zone to save a touchdown, but it felt like Colorado had open receivers anytime the pass rush wasn’t getting to Steven Montez.

And quite a few times UA’s defensive backs got beat over the top, but Montez didn’t have enough touch to complete the deep throw.

And again, Arizona’s cornerbacks seemed to be surrendering a big cushion to their wide receivers, allowing for some easy, short completions.

I thought Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles had his worst game of the season, and there was one play — on 2nd and 22 — where he whiffed on Lindsay on a draw, allowing the CU running back to pick up the first down.

It looked like Flannigan-Fowles missed his coverage on CU tight end Chris Bounds, which let Bounds get free in that flat and eventually get into the end zone for six to make it a seven-point game early in the fourth quarter.

It’s worth noting that Scottie Young Jr. started despite being arrested last week, and he had 11 tackles, tied with Fields for the team-high.

Special teams: A

Special teams didn’t really have to do a whole lot in this game.

Jake Glatting had one punt for 35 yards, which he pinned inside the 20. Josh Pollack made all his extra points, plus a short 24-yard field goal.

Lucas Havrisik tallied eight touchbacks on nine kickoffs, with the Colorado altitude giving him a boost.

Tyrell Johnson returned a kick for 32 yards and Shun Brown returned a punt for six yards.

There were no fumbles, no blocked kicks, and no long returns for Colorado. In other words, it was a good week for UA’s special teams.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire