Turnovers and mistakes cost the Arizona Wildcats a chance at an upset Friday against the Utah Utes, but all that has been beaten into the ground, so let’s take a look at how each position group played that night instead.
Brandon Dawkins had four turnovers. You can’t win a game if your quarterback gives the other team the ball that many times.
All of his interceptions were on forced throws. His fumble, in my opinion, wasn’t a thing since he was down. However, it came after Arizona recovered an onside kick and he HAS to protect the ball. There were multiple high throws to wide open receivers. I mean he didn’t even see Trevor Wood wide open for an easy six.
Not all his play was bad, hence why he didn’t receive an F. He did have some nice runs. He placed the ball right on the money to a WIDE OPEN Nick Wilson, who dropped a would-be touchdown.
And there were times when Dawkins was calm in the pocket and went through his progressions.
Running backs: C
We will start with the good here. Both J.J. Taylor and Nick Wilson played a solid game. Taylor had some good runs where he was able to bounce to the outside and even up the middle. He scored his first touchdown on the ground of the season on a nice, hard 7-yard romp up the middle.
Wilson ran hard all game. He had some success bouncing to the outside and proved difficult to bring down at times. He had a nice run up the middle that set up a Dawkins 1-yard touchdown scamper.
Now, the bad. The reason the group is graded at a C is the two costly mistakes they made.
Taylor, on a strong run and effort, fumbled the ball at the Utah 10-yard line. That killed momentum for the offense for a little bit.
Wilson, who was as wide open as you can be on a wheel route, dropped an accurate pass from Dawkins that would have resulted in an easy touchdown.
Other than those two costly errors though, the group played well.
Wide Receivers: B
The receivers did a pretty solid job Friday night. They did drop a couple of passes that should have been caught and had problems gaining separation a couple of times.
But not everything was on them. There were multiple times that they were wide open or, at the very least, gained separation and they were overthrown or the ball was too high for them to catch.
As mentioned above they had problems a couple of times getting separation, but the rest of the game they did a great job. They were able to draw multiple penalties against the Utah secondary.
Shun Brown had a couple of good catches and Tony Ellison was a solid option all night. Tyrell Johnson continued to show great improvement against Utah. He was able to catch a 32-yard bomb down the field that was under thrown. He made the appropriate adjustment and made the catch. He was also able to outrun a Utah defender, and that led to a pass interference that kept the drive going.
Oh, and Shawn Poindexter recovered an onside kick.
Tight Ends: B+
Bryce Wolma continued to show that he is a reliable option for Arizona’s quarterbacks. He caught four passes for 29 yards and his only drop was a ball that was thrown 100 mph at him from a short distance away. He also threw some nice blocks to help spring some runs for UA.
Trevor Wood had a good showing on his first game back from injury. He had a key block that opened up a hole for J.J. Taylor on his touchdown run. He was also as wide open as I’ve seen anyone on a 4th-and-2 play, but was not seen by Dawkins.
Offensive Line: C
The play from the offensive line was inconsistent. They were able to open up some holes for the running backs and even gave Dawkins time in the pocket on a few occasions.
But they did allow two sacks and seven tackles for loss.
The line is going to have to be more consistent as conference play grinds on to help the Wildcat offense be successful.
Defensive Line: B-
The big boys up front for Marcel Yates’ defense didn't get as much push as one would like to see.
They were aggressive and using their hands well, so they were able to get shed blocks and get some pressure on Utah’s passers. It just wasn’t as much. They did plug their holes pretty well forcing the Ute runners to bounce to the outside. The line finished with 10 tackles (1.5 for loss), a sack and a deflected pass.
The young linebacker unit continues to grow each game.
They played fast and aggressive and that caused some chaos for the Utes.
The unit was led by three true freshman (and stop me if you’ve heard these names before) in Colin Schooler, Tony Fields II, and Kylan Wilborn.
Schooler showcased his instincts a few times, coming up with big TFLs when the team needed them. Fields continues to be aggressive and be one of Arizona’s best pass rushers, finishing the game with his second sack on the year and adding to his lead in tackles for the team.
Wilborn is Arizona’s other really effective pass rusher. He borderline lives in the backfield, and came up with a big strip tackle, crashing into Utah’s Zack Moss and ripping the ball out.
The major negative is there are times where the group is caught out of position and that mainly happens on running plays. It happened a couple of times on Friday night but not enough to overshadow the great play from the unit.
The corners were giving Utah’s receivers huge cushions, which was part of the game plan.
But if you are going to do that, you have to come up and make tackles or shed blocks. At the beginning of the game that did not happen and Utah took full advantage.
As the game went along the corners settled down and started playing pretty well. They did have some penalties and mistakes which is why the grade is lower.
The safeties didn’t have their greatest game. There were some big plays such as Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles’ big pass breakup on a third down. Another was Scottie Young Jr. coming up, showing great tackling technique, and stopping a Utah running back going full speed, keeping him from a first down.
There were, however, some negatives. The safeties did give up some big plays down the field, but one hurt more than others.
On a 3rd and 18 play, Utah was able to convert a big pass play over the middle and inside the 5-yard line. Troy Williams was able to put a pass between two Wildcat safeties, and the drive led to points for Utah.
Special Teams: D
It was not a good night for Arizona’s special teams. Two missed field goals (one blocked), bad snapping, a kickoff out of bounds, and bad punt coverage would not help any team.
The reason that special teams didn’t get an F is because of the successful onside kick.
It is worth noting that Arizona’s special teams had mistakes in both of the team’s losses.