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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Brandon Dawkins saved Arizona in Territorial Cup

Zi Yang Lai
Arizona Quarterback Brandon Dawkins (13) stares in the face of a defensive Arizona State player at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 21. The Wildcats were defeated 52-37

The Duel in the Desert didn’t go according to plan for Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez.

Yet, Wildcat fans finally received a great chance to see another quarterback outside of Anu Solomon or Jerrard Randall.

Freshman Brandon Dawkins was the one to close out the game for Arizona, but the Wildcats couldn’t get a grip late in the game to punish Arizona State University as the Sun Devils toppled the UA 52-37.

Arizona fans had flashbacks to 2011 when Bryson Beirne replaced the injured Nick Foles at Sun Devil Stadium to throw a game-winning touchdown pass. 

Dawkins couldn’t get the job done when all of the hope rested on his shoulders.

Can Arizona fans truly blame Dawkins for the loss? Dawkins was nowhere near the radar for ASU in this week’s preparation plan as Solomon was listed as questionable.

As for Randall—the player who was supposed to leave his final stamp on the program by going behind enemy lines and ruining ASU’s chances for a bowl game—he just didn’t cut it.

Instead Randall threw 4-13 for 35 yards and, after just a few possessions, he was benched.

What appeared to be a desperate decision by Rodriguez was actually a move that turned out to be an advantage for the Wildcats.

“I thought he competed well,” Rodriguez said. “He took all but two reps all week in practice. There were a couple plays he would like to have back but for the most part, he gave us a chance and he’s gonna have a good future.”

According to Rodriguez, Dawkins was put in the game despite the quarterback dealing with an illness in his stomach.

“He was sick, he had a stomach virus,” Rodriguez said. “Second half, I didn’t think he would go. He was puking in the locker room … drank some water and gave us a chance.”

Dawkins was thrown in with the wolves and a Sun Devil defense that thrives on stacking the box and blitzing.

Dawkins proved that he is very well capable of competing at the same level as the two quarterbacks in front of him on the depth chart, as the freshman threw for 305 yards on 16 of 30 passing attempts and two touchdowns. He also showcased his feet, running for 78 yards, and ran in a late touchdown. But it was too little, too late.

It seemed like during every play Dawkins either ran the football or was consistently knocked down. His body was so beat up that Nate Phillips and David Richards carried Dawkins off of the field following his late fourth quarter touchdown.

“I’ve been hit pretty good, but that was a little extensive,” Dawkins said. “Just a couple more drives and getting in the end zone could’ve changed the outcome of the game.”

Most fans can’t even name their third-string quarterback at all. Dawkins has a different vibe and every player understands their role and for the future.

Rodriguez will keep the name Brandon Dawkins swirling in his head for a bowl game as well as for next season.

“Sometimes when you’re the third quarterback, you kinda just linger around and you have no sense of importance,” Rodriguez said. “He’s shown me it’s important to him.”

Arizona will finally receive its first bye week, only because the regular season has come to a conclusion.

The Wildcats will await their bowl destiny, but as of now, Arizona fans, as well as Rich Rodriguez, should keep in mind that Brandon Dawkins can play productive football and be successful doing it.

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