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Commentary: Passing game is starting to cost 'Cats

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Heather Newberry and HEATHER_NEWBERRY | The Daily Wildcat

Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins (13) passes the ball during the UA-Houston game on Sept. 9 at Arizona Stadium.

The Arizona football team had another impressive rushing game in its home opener against Northern Arizona, but this week was a different story. The results? A reliance on the passing game to win that would never come to fruition in a 19-16 home loss to the visiting Houston Cougars Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.

Brandon Dawkins was inconsistent, erratic at the most inopportune times. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 178 yards, exactly double the output of the passing attack from the week prior. His miscues came on a ball that sailed high above a receivers head to continue a drive on the very first possession and in missing a wide open Tony Ellison in the endzone. Both passes were seemingly easy on a scale of 1 to 10, both fueled the Wildcat crowd into a course of boos when he would re-enter the game for Khalil Tate during the fourth quarter of a tight ball game.

Arizona will only go as far as their passing attack will let them, and right now it isn’t very far. Coming off a season where the Wildcats were near the bottom of statistics in the air and dead last in completion percentage, you’d think that some attention would be paid to it. It appears, especially after just 14 attempts the week prior against an FCS school, that Arizona is content to take its chances running the ball, win or lose.

The Wildcats will travel to UTEP this week for a Friday night game. It is one of the last games they will be favored to win. If the prospects of the season are to be brighter, some type of consistency should manifest itself at the quarterback position. Head coach Rich Rodriguez toyed around with Tate and Dawkins in the fourth quarter, pulling each for the other. Tate seemed to be moving the ball well in the final frame before throwing a crucial interception with just under four minutes left in the game.

Arizona would get the ball back and Dawkins was the one to come out and attempt to save the day, to a course of boos from the Wildcat faithful. He then went four and out after over throwing one receiver and attempting to scramble on a fourth and 13.

Rodriguez didn’t say much after the game, other than he just replaced each quarterback because they were both nicked up. For his sake, answers as to how to solve that problem better arise or it could be the last time he gets to play musical chairs with Arizona quarterbacks.


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