UTEP no match for Arizona as Wildcats blowout Miners in El Paso
EL PASO-- A lot has been made of the Arizona football passing attack, or the lack thereof, with the brunt of inefficiency directed at quarterback Brandon Dawkins. In the first half he played like a man determined to shut the haters up by dismantling the UTEP Miners, 63-16, to improve to 2-1 on the season. By games end there were flashes of promise, but questions still remain about the offenses ability to win a game if the run game is slowed down.
Dawkins wasn’t perfect, but he was as efficient as he has ever been during his time as a Wildcat. Dawkins threw for two scores and ran another during a second quarter that Arizona dominated. Midway through the first half the signal caller dumped a two-yard touchdown pass to running back J.J. Taylor, found Shun Brown down the middle on a nicely timed seem route, then ran one in from five yards out to put the game seemingly away for Arizona.
"He did a nice job tonight and he bailed us out of a couple situations as well," said Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez. "...You could tell he was really serious tonight."
Special teams even played a part as Shun Brown had a run that featured a spin move down the sideline as he skipped to the end zone to put the Wildcats firmly ahead 28-0.
Though the defense gave up a few early passes to UTEP quarterback Zack Greenlee, they stiffened up and shut the Miners down for the most part. That was until UTEP struck with their first points with 2:50 left as wide receiver Tyler Batson hauled in a touchdown pass from Greenlee from nine yards out. Despite the score, UA gave up 111 yards in total offense in the first half, 104 coming via the pass.
"Being on the road is a different environment and we had to bring our own juice, so to speak, and I thought the freshmen did pretty well," Rodriguez said.
UTEP had an opportunity to cut it to 14, but Colin Schooler intercepted an ill-advised floating pass and ran it back to the Miner five-yard line. The following session was capped by a Dawkins run, which he reversed field and had to stiff arm a defender before diving for the Pylon to put Arizona up 35-6 heading into halftime.
It was much of the same in the second half with Arizona relentlessly running the ball down the throat of the Miners. It was run up the middle, run up the middle, keeper Dawkins, rinse and repeat and there was nothing UTEP could do to stop it. In all, the Wildcats didn’t put up ASU or NAU type rushing numbers, but they did have full control of the clock and the game. By the 10:56 mark in the fourth quarter, Arizona rushed for 278 yards on 50 carries and four touchdowns. Dawkins would account for 143 of those yards.
Questions will remain, however, about the ability of this offense to spread the field vertically. Only one of Dawkins passes went for over 25 yards against a defense that came in averaging over 303 yards given up per game. But for now, the Wildcats will savor the victory and prepare for a rigorous Pac-12 schedule starting one week from tonight at home against Utah.
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