David Potts over from Arizona Desert Swarm was nice enough to answer some questions before the Beavers and Wildcats kick-off this evening. Check out what we told them here. And get the inside scoop below.
Q: Tell us about Arizona's quarterback situation. Anu Solomon came into the year as the starter, but Brandon Dawkins has taken a majority of the snaps this year. Has it been entirely injury related or is the coaching staff just experimenting?
A little bit of Column A, a little bit of Column B. Anu Solomon has been hurt the majority of the year — frankly, I’m surprised he even came back this year instead of trying to take a medical redshirt — but Brandon Dawkins is probably the future regardless. Dawkins is more athletic and has more potential while Solomon has, to some extent, plateaued. When the coaching staff plays Khalil Tate for significant snaps, they’re experimenting. But when they play Dawkins instead of Solomon, they don’t lose anything on the field and give the Wildcats a better chance going forward.
Q: Arizona started the season off strong and even took Washington to overtime, but has not looked sharp the last 4 weeks in Pac-12 play. In your opinion why has Arizona struggled this season and failed to secure their first Pac-12 victory?
It’s been a combination of injuries and general lack of talent. In the backfield, Anu Solomon, Nick Wilson, J.J. Taylor, and Brandon Dawkins have all missed significant time, and guys like Cody Ippolito and De’Andre Miller have missed time on defense. This Arizona team would have had trouble making a bowl even if fully healthy, and given the number of guys who have missed significant time, it’s not surprising that the Wildcats have struggled so much. The Washington game was a fluke.
Q: Vegas has Oregon State favored by 6.5 points this weekend. What is your reaction to that news? Beaver fans seemed to be fairly surprised since Oregon State had previously opened up has double-digit underdogs in every other Pac-12 game.
Not surprised at all. Oregon State is a better team and gets to play at home, and a 6.5 point line is fair. In fact, Bill Connelly over at Football Study Hall gives Oregon State a 6.1 point edge, so 6.5 is about the perfect line. Though Oregon State isn’t great, Arizona (and Arizona State, for that matter) are both worse, and I’m not surprised to see the Beavers open as a relatively significant favorite.
Q: Who are a couple players Oregon State fans should keep an eye out for on Saturday?
The obvious answer is Brandon Dawkins. Given how Oregon State has struggled against the run, I’d expect to see a heavy dose of Dawkins on the read-option and on designed runs. Samajie Grant should get a good number of carries as well. Grant, a former wide receiver, is adapting to the running back position, but has made some pretty spectacular plays hurdling over defenders and escaping to the outside.
On the defense, look out for Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. The Arizona defense has been disappointing, to say the least, but Flannigan-Fowles is the Wildcat with the most potential to wreak havoc, force turnovers, and get into the backfield.
Q: Prediction time! Who ya got?
Oregon State by 7 seems about right to me - I’m not going to trust this Arizona team to win a game until they can keep one close. I’ll say Oregon State 38, Arizona 31.