Staff predictions on Arizona football's season opener

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Beau Leone | The Daily Wildcat

Running back J.J. Taylor eludes various Arizona State defenders in the game against Arizona State on Saturday, November 24th. 

The Arizona football team travelled to Hawaii earlier this week for a game in Honolulu to kick off the 2019 season. Here are our beat writers' predictions for tonight's action:

Jack: There shouldn’t be any shortage of scoring in this game. Hawai'i likes to air the ball out all over the field, and even though the Rainbow Warriors lost its top receiver from last year to the NFL Draft, don’t expect that to stop them. Quarterback Cole McDonald is returning. He had his best year last year with 36 touchdowns, but he did have 10 interceptions. Arizona, on the other hand, returns Khalil Tate, J.J. Taylor and Cedric Peterson. Last season, Arizona struggled getting the ball in the end zone and had to settle for field goals more than they would’ve liked. If Arizona can find the end zone more than last year, they could put up almost 50 after working the bugs out on the first couple of drives.

Final Score: Arizona 49 Hawai'i 30

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Amit: After a disappointing start to Head Coach Kevin Sumlin’s "New Era," expectations for Arizona are certainly not very high. The Wildcats' defense put up an average of just under 32 points per game, and combined with the fact that the team had to fly 3,000 miles this week for Saturday’s match, it's gonna be an uphill battle for Arizona. The Rainbow Warriors won eight games last season, with a couple of them being the underdogs, and with the big home field advantage, Hawai’i definitely has the odds in its favor tonight.

Final Score: Hawai'i 42 Arizona 35

Austin: After a very successful passing season last year for Hawai'i, with over 3,800 yards passing from quarterback Cole McDonald, we should expect them to come out throwing the ball a lot. Arizona’s pass defense last year wasn’t the best, especially against an "air raid" offense like Hawai’i. If the defense is able to get to McDonald frequently, especially from JB Brown and Jalen Cochran, Hawai’i will have to rely on its run game, which wasn’t great as running back Fred Holly III only averaged 4 yards per attempt last year. Arizona should be very balanced this year, as they will rely heavily on J.J. Taylor in the run game and return senior Cedric Peterson and junior Stan Berryhill in the pass game. If we can see Khalil Tate be able to step up in the pocket and take off when needed, this game should be Arizona’s all the way through. 

Final Score: Arizona 38 Hawai'i 24


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