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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Brandon Dawkins didn’t score his spot as a permanent starter for Arizona football

Courtney Talak

Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon (12) walks on the fireld with an injured knee in Saturday’s game against Grambling State. Solomon has started 26 games for the Wildcats during his time at Arizona.

With starting quarterback Anu Solomon sidelined due to a knee injury, Brandon Dawkins had an opportunity to show why he should be given a chance at full-time starter. 

Dawkins did get the win, but he cannot say he won the starting spot over Solomon. In his first career start, he went 15-for-29 for 223 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 97 yards and two scores.

The offense started the game in catch-up mode as Grambling State’s offense took the game-opening drive down the field for a touchdown. Dawkins’s first pass attempt was almost a Grambling State pick-six, but the defender could not corral the rocket-ball. 

Dawkins started out poorly, going 2-for-5 in the first quarter as Arizona fell behind 14-0 to the Tigers early in the contest. However, Dawkins turned it up in the second quarter by taking a quarterback keeper 42-yards for a big Arizona first down.

Dawkins was getting badly outplayed early on by DeVante Kincade of Grambling State, as the Tiger’s offense effortlessly drove down the field. While Dawkins only had 17 yards in the first quarter, Kincade was 13-for-16 for 181 yards and two touchdowns and looked like a Pac-12 Conference quarterback.

After Kincade went down with a leg injury toward the end of the first half, Grambling State committed several turnovers and Dawkins and the UA offense capitalized.

While Dawkins did get the win, his performance left much to be desired as he did not start playing well until Kincade went down. If Kincade didn’t get injured, maybe Grambling State would have won by double-digits. Dawkins dodged a bullet by Kincade going down because there is no way he builds a case for starting if he loses to an FCS opponent.

The Solomon-Dawkins dynamic might be the same as Solomon-Randall last season for Arizona. Whenever Solomon cannot sustain drives, the dynamic, less accurate quarterback comes in to try and give the Wildcats a spark. 

One thing that Dawkins does have over Solomon is that he is much more elusive in the pocket. Dawkins was only sacked twice in the game and dodged multiple defenders. Sure, he could have been more accurate, but he only lost 14 yards total throughout the game. Whereas Solomon seems to lack pocket awareness, Dawkins has the ability to extend plays and gash the defense on the ground.

We may need another week to fully determine whether or not Dawkins deserves to be a starter.

“I always picture myself as a starter,” Dawkins said after the Grambling State win. 

And as of now, he’s right. He did just enough for Arizona to get the win and Solomon’s status is still up in the air for next week. 

Wide receiver Trey Griffey went far enough as calling Dawkins a “great quarterback,” and while that is debatable, it is good he has the confidence of his team. 

Dawkins should definitely start next week as Arizona plays Hawaii, so he has one more chance to prove his mettle. Arizona will then play eighth-ranked Washington and head coach Rich Rodriguez had better have the situation figures out down by then.

Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter

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