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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Brandon Dawkins: The last hope

Darien Bakas

Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins (13) throws the ball in the Grambling State game on Saturday, Sept. 10. Dawkins is expected to start again this Saturday versus Hawai’i.

For Wildcats quarterback Brandon Dawkins, last Saturday was a long time coming.

The redshirt sophomore, who had been a backup to Anu Solomon, had never made a start in his collegiate career. He only saw action in the three games that Solomon missed, backing up Jerrard Randall.

But against Grambling State, it was Dawkins’ time to shine. When asked if there was a different anxiety knowing he was getting the start, Dawkins admitted that there were a few nerves before the game. “I mean, I could lie and tell you no,” Dawkins joked. “But there was a little bit [of anxiety].”

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound QB saw his most significant action come last year as a backup in a game against ASU, in which he completed 16 of his 30 attempts for 301 yards and two scores, along with two interceptions. The dual-threat QB also ran for 78 yards on 21 carries. 

Being a QB who can both pass and run the ball is something that Dawkins prides himself on. “If something happens and I have to make a play, that’s what being a dual-threat quarterback is all about: being able to run off and make a play.”

It’s that dual-threat capability that separates Dawkins from Solomon. Playing in just seven games, Dawkins already has more than half of the rushing yards (276) that Solomon has (469) in 19 fewer games played. 

While Dawkins has his own drawbacks at the position, such as the tendency to be somewhat inaccurate with his passes, his running ability is a tool that he uses to his advantage quite often—sometimes even a little too much for coach Rich Rodriguez. 

“I think there’s a tendency when you can just run, when maybe taking off and then throwing, might be a bigger play,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t want to take away from his creativity, but he’s got to do it within the framework of the offense and let the play break down first before you decide to scramble out on it.”

In the game against Grambling State, Dawkins didn’t start out so hot, and the QB was quick to acknowledge that. “Sadly, we didn’t take over until the second half. That’s when we started getting rolling.”

And boy, did they roll. Dawkins finished the game with 223 yards and a score in the air and also added 97 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, coming from behind to beat Grambling State 31-21. Perhaps the best play of the game was a 21-yard touchdown run by Dawkins early in the fourth quarter, a play that put the Wildcats up by 10 while also showing the great elusiveness that Dawkins possesses.

In terms of improving the offense and looking toward this Saturday’s matchup against Hawaii, Dawkins said one of the biggest things he and the coaches discussed was tempo. “A lot of it was tempo, you know, just get the offense moving faster, take a little more control of it to get it going,” Dawkins said. “It’s a big part of our offense, being fast-paced.”

When asked what has changed for him from last season to this season, Dawkins said that his maturity is something that stands out. 

“Maturity and understanding the offense and things like that,” Dawkins said. “It’s just a lot to learn and a lot gets thrown at you, and Rich Rod will say that it’s a very simple offense, but there’s a lot to it. There’s a lot of little checks and things you can do to the offense to make your job easier, so you just got to be able to understand those and what situations you can use those in.”

Saturday’s game against Hawaii will be another big showcase for the player that many think could be just the guy that Arizona needs to make this campaign a successful one. While Dawkins said that he hopes Solomon makes a speedy recovery, he also said that he wants to make the most out of any opportunity he is given, and he views this as a great one. “Obviously, I’m still trying to win this job. I’m not going into the season expecting to be a 2,” Dawkins said. “Whatever I have to do to try and win this job i’m definitely going to be taking advantage of it while I still have it.”

With the motivation to win the starting job and the skill set to actually make it happen, Brandon Dawkins could prove to be exactly who Arizona offense needs to get things going in the 2016 season. 

Follow Noah Auclair on Twitter.

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