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What: Grambling State (1-0) vs. Arizona (0-1)
When: Saturday, 7:45 p.m., Tucson time
Where: Arizona Stadium
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Guy Haberman, Evan Moore and Drea Avent)
Radio: IMG Network (Brian Jeffries and Lamont Lovett)
Line: Arizona by 45
Previously this week at AllSportsTucson.com:
This game will determine…
Not much other than whether Brandon Dawkins has progressed from his performance at ASU last season backing up Anu Solomon and Jerrard Randall. Dawkins, a third-year sophomore, showed flashes of brilliance (16 of 30 for 305 yards with two touchdowns while rushing for a team-high 78 yards on 21 carries). He also exhibited some questionable decisions (two interceptions). Dawkins is expected to start tonight or play extended minutes because of Solomon’s knee injury and the expected mismatch. …
Three things to look for:
1. Discipline: Arizona showed much of that against BYU with only four penalties for 20 yards in the season-opener last week. That was the second-fewest amount of penalty yards for Pac-12 teams in the opening weekend. Coaching against Grambling State, an FCS team that does not figure to keep the game close, Rich Rodriguez should get a good feel for what players are tuned in the most for improving from one week to the next. The most important agenda for Rodriguez and his staff is to notice improvement leading up to the Pac-12 opener against Washington Sept. 24 at Arizona Stadium.
2. The rotation: With the game figuring to be lopsided, it will be interesting to see how much Rodriguez and his staff utilize backups for running back Nick Wilson and the receiving unit. Wilson is positioning himself for an impressive junior season, leading the Pac-12 after Week One with 138 yards rushing against BYU. He could become one of the national leaders after tonight’s game. On the other hand, it’s very important to keep him healthy for the Pac-12 portion of the schedule, especially after his bout with injuries last season. Expect to see much of backups Orlando Bradford and J.J. Taylor as they work toward improving themselves and providing Rodriguez viable options behind Wilson as the season progresses. Likewise, receiving backups Cam Denson (you remember him?), Cedric Peterson, Shawn Poindexter and Tyrell Johnson figure to get a decent amount of playing time.
3. The defensive front: With how Grambling uses run-first athletic quarterbacks, it will be interesting to see how Arizona’s down linemen and perimeter defenders close to the line perform. DeAndre’ Miller, as the stud defender positioned at the end, is versatile enough with his strength and movement to keep the Tigers’ quarterbacks in check. Defensive end Justin Belknap, a redshirt freshman starter who is former walk-on, is a name that will be around for a long time to come. He had a tackle for loss in his first game against BYU last week, earning him the Hard Edge Player of the Week as determined by Arizona’s coaches. In the secondary, Paul Magloire Jr., Tellas Jones and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles will be expected to be alert tracking the quarterbacks and being prepared for play-action activity.
Arizona’s defense vs. Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade. Only nine months ago, Kincade was on Mississippi’s roster preparing for a trip to the Sugar Bowl. Now, the Dallas, Texas, product is one of two quarterbacks utilized by Grambling. Kincade was the Rebels’ third-string quarterback. Since he transferred from an FBS school to an FCS team, he is eligible immediately. The Tigers sought a replacement for Johnathan Williams, who led the FCS with 37 touchdowns passes and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year last season. Sophomore Trevon Cherry, who backed up Williams, should also see playing time against Arizona. In a 72-12 win over Division II Virginia-Lynchburg last week, Kincade passed for 107 yards while rushing for 139 and Cherry threw for 140 yards.
By the numbers:
Arizona WR Nate Phillips has a pass reception in 35 consecutive games, which puts him on target of breaking the Arizona record of 42 games held by Bobby Wade and Dennis Northcutt. That record was ranked No. 21 in our Top 100 Arizona individual records rating before the season.
Grambling player to watch: Running back Martez Carter
The 5’8″ and 175-pound Carter returned a kickoff 87 yards for a score and a 57-yard punt return for another touchdown last week against Virginia-Lynchburg. With his small size and quickness, he makes it difficult for defenders to see him and adjust in time for a tackle.
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.