Five questions: The Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev on Arizona

UCLA is searching for a bounce-back performance against Arizona after a heartbreaking loss to Stanford. The Wildcats are just two years removed from their Pac-12 South championship, but fell quickly from the divisional perch. They finished fifth in the Pac-12 South last year and revamped their entire defensive staff this year. They have a dangerous mobile quarterback who nearly led them to an upset victory over Washington last week. The Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev answered some questions about quarterback Brandon Dawkins, the team’s struggling defense and its running back situation. 

1. Brandon Dawkins took over the starting role for an injured Anu Solomon and had some success. Even if Solomon is healthy, will Dawkins keep the starting job and if so, what necessary component does he bring to the offense?

I believe he will keep the starting job. He isn’t as polished a passer as Solomon, but Dawkins is a superior athlete. He can be a real difference-maker with his legs. We weren’t sure he could run effectively against Washington’s vaunted defense, but he did and then some (176 yards, two touchdowns). He has a big frame and a strong arm and has shown promise as a passer. But he still needs a lot of work (reading defenses, remaining patient in the pocket) to become a proficient all-around quarterback. Continue reading

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First look: Arizona at UCLA

Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins is a threat in the air and on the ground for UCLA. (Photo: Rick Scuteri/AP)

Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins is a threat in the air and on the ground for UCLA. (Photo: Rick Scuteri/AP)

UCLA Bruins (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) vs. Arizona Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m., Rose Bowl
TV: ESPN
Radio: AM 570

Scouting report: Arizona got off to a slow start to the season, losing a thriller to BYU then squeaking by Grambling State. The Wildcats had a quarterback controversy during the offseason and settled on Anu Solomon, but Solomon was injured in practice after the season opener. Three games later, it seems his replacement Brandon Dawkins is here to stay. Dawkins is a dual-threat quarterback who gave No. 10 Washington’s stout defense fits. He ran for 176 yards and passed for 167 while scoring three total touchdowns in the overtime loss. Freshman running back J.J. Taylor is out due to a broken ankle suffered against UW. He was second on the team in rushing (after Dawkins) after starter Nick Wilson was injured in Arizona’s win over Hawai‘i. Like last year, defense is a concern for the Wildcats. They gave up 512 total yards to the Huskies, including 352 on the ground and rank 10th in the conference in total defense. Continue reading

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TV time set for Arizona game at the Rose Bowl

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) stiff-arms Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) stiff-arms Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Get ready for another late night at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA’s Oct. 1 game against Arizona is set for a 7:30 p.m. PT kickoff with ESPN on the TV broadcast.

Both teams are 2-2 overall with losses in their Pac-12 openers. The Wildcats are coming off an overtime loss to No. 9 Washington at home.

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UCLA 2016 schedule preview: Arizona

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) stiff-arms Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

UCLA running back Paul Perkins (24) stiff-arms Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Continuing the look at UCLA’s 2016 schedule, here is a breakdown of the Bruins’ fourth opponent, Arizona.

UCLA vs. Arizona
Saturday, Oct. 1 | Rose Bowl

2015 in review

In one year, Arizona (7-6 overall, 3-6 Pac-12 in 2015) went from Pac-12 South champions to a lowly fifth place, only above Colorado. The Bruins gave up a season-high 353 rushing yards to Arizona last year, but still came away with the win on Sept. 26 because Arizona’s defense was even worse than UCLA’s. The Wildcats gave up six (!) rushing touchdowns during that game and two more through the air while the Bruins ran away with a comfortable 56-30 win. Arizona was 10th in the conference in yardage and points allowed last year and revamped the entire defensive coaching staff. Continue reading

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UCLA stumbles again in 81-75 loss at No. 17 Arizona

Arizona coach Sean Miller says his Wildcats had "self-inflicted breakdowns" during their 87-84 loss at UCLA on Jan. 7. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

Arizona coach Sean Miller said his Wildcats’ defense had improved since a January loss at UCLA. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)

Earlier this week, Sean Miller insisted that Arizona’s defense is better than what UCLA saw a month ago at Pauley Pavilion.

“Although I don’t think we’re night-and-day different, we have steadily improved,” said the Wildcats’ head coach.

Heading into the McKale Center on Friday night, UofA had only allowed two teams to shoot more than 50 percent from the field: UCLA and Oregon. It lost both those games, the first of which was punctuated by Bryce Alford’s game-winning 3-pointer at Pauley Pavilion. The latter, meanwhile, marked No. 17 Arizona’s first home loss since February 2013.

The rematch against the Bruins this week, Miller hoped, would see his players put in a much stouter performance.

The Wildcats did enough. After falling into a double-digit halftime hole in Tucson, Arizona closed out an 81-75 home victory. The foul-filled game, which saw UofA shoot 45 free throws to UCLA’s 16, marked the Bruins’ fifth loss in seven outings.

It may have very well ended their at-large NCAA Tournament hopes. Continue reading

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