Brandon Dawkins ran for 176 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night against Washington. His running ability kept the Wildcats on the game, pushing the heavily favored Huskies into overtime.
Dawkins makes a great read and gets a block from Jacob Alsadek and Gerhard de Beer. If Freddie Tagaloa gets his block upfield, there's a good chance that Dawkins scores and, if not, at least gains plenty more yards. He is still able to get the first down and this all happens with a successful read.
The pocket collapses when Layth Friekh is unable to hold a blitz on the edge. Dawkins might have been able to step up and look for a receiver, but instead makes a quick decision to take off after the pocket collapses. Dawkins could have been a little more aggressive closer to the first down marker, but is able to pick it up anyway. Once again, his running ability allows the Wildcats to get a crucial first down.
This looks like it is a run fake all the way. Had it been a run/pass option, Dawkins would have had success handing the ball off because Taylor had plenty of room. Instead, Dawkins automatically rolls to his right. Tagaloa isn't doing a good job of holding his block, forcing Dawkins to stop rolling out and cut in. Once he cuts in, it's all Dawkins. He does a nice job of using angles and going from right to left to pick up extra yardage. It looks as if Azeem Victor was waiting for him and Dawkins realized this, as his movement allowed him to nearly pick up the first down.
Dawkins makes the right read on the run blitz because if he gives it to Taylor, the UW linebacker lights him up for a loss. Damion Turpin is caught out of position, but the play ends when Dawkins runs right into Gerhard de Beer. If that doesn't happen, he has a bunch more yards because the only UW player within five yards that can tackle him is Sidney Jones.
This is a nice initial play by Washington linebacker Psalm Wooching. He would have had Taylor if the ball was handed off and did not bite, thus staying in position to tackle Dawkins. However, Wooching does not wrap up and Budda Baker completely overplays him. There is a decent chance that Baker is at least able to slow him down, but you won't see him make many mistakes as bad as this one. Once that happens, all Dawkins needs is a wide receiver or two to get a hand on a defender and he's gone. Trey Griffey adds a nice block at the end, but Dawkins probably did not need it.
Arizona goes empty, so right away you know it is passing or Dawkins is taking off. Dawkins drops back, but the middle of the field is wide open and he does not hesitate to attack it. Dawkins realizes he has nowhere to go and takes a dive, gaining about for or five yards. It's not a big gain, but it is nice recognition of Washington's defense.
It's third and eight, so you have to assume Arizona is going to pass here. The pressure on the left isn't much, but Jacob Alsadek gets beat by Elijah Qualls and Dawkins decides to run. Trey Griffey going across the field brings the defensive back away from the middle and the Husky backs are playing deeper to begin with because it is an obvious passing play. By the time Washington recovers, Dawkins had gained some speed and Bierria and Victor can't make the play with arm tackles. Shun Brown puts on a block and Dawkins is off to the races. You can tell he gets exhausted near the end of this run and Baker is able to catch up to him, but not before Dawkins has done major damage.
On second and goal, Washington is playing the run. It's a designed run behind Alsadek and Dawkins has an open running lane. He cuts inside a bit and gets the easy touchdown. This was the blocking by the offensive line that Arizona could have used on the failed fourth down conversion earlier in the game.
As nice as the blocking is on the previous run, it's just as bad on this one. Washington completely blows up the line and there's nowhere for Dawkins to go. He can hand it off, but it isn't going for anything, so he decides to keep and nothing is going on there either. There's no wrong decision here because the line just doesn't do its job to the point where it almost looks like a broken play.
Arizona goes empty and this one looks like a designed passing play. Dawkins does not see anybody open, but feels he has enough of a lane to gain some yards on the ground. Eldridge has nobody to block and Dawkins likely sees this and tries to run behind him. Instead, Joe Mathis is able to get away from the block and tackle Dawkins.
Analysis: Not every one of Dawkins' run were for big yardage, but you can see the talent. He gained yardage because the pocket broke down, by design, and because of his ability to break tackles. We don't want to sit here and compare his running ability or overall ability to make plays to Anu Solomon because they are different quarterbacks. Instead, you can see that his ability to run extended numerous plays and put Arizona in a position to win the game.
His decision making continues to improve and he did a nice job for the most part, though he did miss a few open receivers. Without J.J. Taylor in the game, you could make an argument that Dawkins was the only respectable runner that Arizona had in the game and he was still able to be successful. As he becomes a better passer, Dawkins will become an even better runner because it will force the opposition to respect his passing game more.