Brandon Dawkins made his first career college start for Arizona on Saturday against Grambling State but admits the rough offensive outing to begin the game was not what the sophomore expected.
“I thought the game was a little shaky to start,” Dawkins said. “We just had to make a couple minor adjustments, which we did at halftime, but once we got things down, we stated moving the ball better and played a lot better than the first half. Our offense improved a lot and that was the main thing.”
Arizona struggled mightily on third down conversations, going 5-15 in all. Dawkins attributes that to the physical play of the Grambling State defense.
“Obviously we could have executed a little bit better, but my hat goes off to their defense,” he said. “They did a great job of coming out here and defying everybody. All of us didn’t really expect that much.
“As on offense we didn’t read too much into them because we knew in the back of our heads we were supposed to win this game. Obviously you try not to think like that all week and I think we did a good job of telling ourselves that Grambling was our next big opponent.
“That’s how we prepared and they made a lot of athletic plays, but at the same time a lot of went wrong for our offense is just minor stuff that needed to be corrected.”
As a defensive unit, Arizona allowed 462 total yards and created six turnovers which all occurred in the second half of the game. Dawkins feels the energy on defensive side of the ball positioned the group back on track.
“I think the momentum was the biggest part of this game,” Dawkins said. “It definitely carried over to offense and having guys like Demetrius over there making great plays made things a lot easier for us.
“We really feed off of each other’s energy whether it be the special teams unit, defense or ourselves on offense. As long as the defense and all the units are doing their jobs and boosting us up, we’re feeling the effect and putting all of that into our next drive.”
While signs point to Anu Solomon returning next week, Dawkins makes it an effort to envision himself as a leader on the field for every matchup.
“I always picture myself as the starter no matter what,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where they have me listed on a depth chart because I’m always ready to go out there and play my best. However many reps I get I treat them all like a one, that way if they end up putting me in the game, I’m just that much more ready for it.”