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What: Hawaii (1-2) vs. Arizona (1-1)
When: Today, 7:45 p.m., Tucson time
Where: Arizona Stadium
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron and Kate Scott)
Radio: IMG Network (Brian Jeffries and Lamont Lovett)
Line: Arizona by 24.5 points
Previously this week at AllSportsTucson.com:
— Arizona Wildcats helmet sticker update: Week 2
— History behind Arizona’s U.S.S. Arizona commemorative uniforms worn for the game tonight.
— Wilbur the Wildcat drawing update and off-the-beaten-path storylines of tonight’s game.
This game will determine…
If the Wildcats are more prepared to face the challenge that is ahead, opening the Pac-12 season next Saturday against No. 8 Washington at Arizona Stadium. Rich Rodriguez’s team has plenty of work to do after trailing 21-3 to Grambling last week before counting on six turnovers by the Tigers to turn the game around. Arizona’s defense allowed big running plays and showed pass coverage breakdowns against BYU and Grambling, so it will be interesting to see if the Wildcats can stop Hawaii from big gains and limit the Rainbow Warriors to at least five three-and-out possessions after achieving only one in the first two games (none against Grambling). The offense is also under the scope ranking only No. 9 in total offense in the Pac-12, foreign territory under Rodriguez. Will the Wildcats be prepared in all phases? …
Three things to look for:
1. Play Anu Solomon or save him?: Solomon sat out last week’s game wearing a bulky knee brace on his left knee. He is listed as questionable against Hawaii, which likely means he will sit this game out. From a personal standpoint for him, that’s unfortunate if he is unable to play because of his Hawaiian background. He and his family moved from Honolulu to Las Vegas when he was 10. Only five years ago, he was throwing footballs and working out with Marcus Mariota at Mariota’s old high school in Honolulu. Solomon likely wants to play in this game badly, but in the best interest of the team, he should let his knee heal more for the Washington game next week.
2. Maintaining Nick Wilson: With backup Orlando Bradford kicked off the team because of his arrest of domestic violence charges, Wilson not only has to stabilize Arizona’s running game more, he must remain healthy. Freshman running back J.J. Taylor moves up the depth chart but he is raw. Wilson ranked No. 10 nationally in rushing entering the week with 254 yards on 41 carries. Rodriguez’s ideal situation is for Arizona to build a big enough lead to rest Wilson and give Taylor more reps. Promising is that Hawaii ranks No. 111 in rushing defense, yielding 236.3 yards a game.
3. Hawaii’s execution against Arizona’s defense: The good news for Arizona is that Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey is not an elusive running quarterback in the same mold as Grambling’s DeVante Kincade, who shredded the Wildcat secondary before suffering a knee injury right before halftime. Kincade passed for 209 yards by then, completing 16 of 25 passes. He was on target because of his speed out of the backfield kept Arizona’s defense unbalanced. Woolsey also has the ability to roll out of the pocket, but he has only 16 yards on 15 carries. He is counted on more for his arm (527 yards on 33 completions out of 65 attempts). After watching the film of Grambling’s execution led by Kincade, expect Woolsey to do his best expression of the former Mississippi QB. The equalizer for Arizona: Woolsey has as many interceptions (five) as touchdown passes.
Brandon Dawkins (or Solomon) against Hawaii’s beleaguered secondary: Hawaii enters the game ranked No. 114 in passing defense, allowing 283.7 yards per game. If Dawkins wants to work out the kinks before facing potential Pac-12 competition, there is not a better opportunity than this one. Dawkins did not throw an interception against Grambling but his completion percentage (51.7, 15 of 29) was not impressive. He was efficient as a runner, gaining 97 yards on 16 carries. For Dawkins to give Rodriguez and his staff more confidence in his ability he must show it against Hawaii’s porous pass defense. That means he should show a better grasp of the offense, make wiser decisions and throw accurate passes.
By the numbers:
Number of American crewmen and officers lost on the U.S.S. Arizona in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Arizona will wear commemorative uniforms tonight signifying the 75th anniversary of that infamous historical event.
Hawaii player to watch: Senior cornerback Jalen Rogers
The fifth-year senior who hails from Cienega High School leads the Rainbow Warriors with 23 tackles, including 18 solo stops. He also has two tackles for lost yardage, an interception and two passes broken up. He has started 10 times for Hawaii after transferring from Mesa Community College in 2013. Rogers led Hawaii with nine tackles against Cal in the season opener. He intercepted a pass last week on UT-Martin’s last drive, preserving Hawaii’s 41-36 lead.
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.