PULLMAN, Wash. — Arizona’s report card for its 59-37 win over Washington State.
Quarterbacks: A: Rich Rodriguez said after the game he thought it was one of the best games Anu Solomon played this season and we agree. Solomon had a couple overthrows early in the game, but settled in to be extremely productive. The redshirt freshman finished 26 for 38 for 294 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added 31 rushing yards on nine carries. Solomon made smart decisions throughout the game and had some really nice passes. He got some help from his receivers, but had more success throwing downfield than in previous weeks.
Running backs: B: Terris Jones-Grigsby returned after missing the second half of the USC game with a concussion and averaged 8.2 yards per carry. The redshirt senior had 107 yards on 13 carries. Jones-Grigsby had some critical runs on Arizona’s second possession of the second half that eventually led to a UA passing touchdown. Freshman Nick Wilson, who didn’t play against the Trojans with an ankle injury, was held in check. He had 10 carries for 18 yards, but did manage to score a 2-yard touchdown. Redshirt freshman Zach Green got a couple carries late and had five yards.
Wide receivers: A-: Arizona’s depth at receiver was on display against the Cougars. Five different receivers caught a touchdown and Solomon completed passes to 10 different targets. Cayleb Jones led the way with seven catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. Austin Hill, who made a couple nice snags, had four grabs for 63 yards and a score. DaVonte’ Neal, Nate Phillips and Trey Griffey all caught touchdown passes, as well. Phillips’ catch on his 21-yard touchdown and Hill’s catch on his 14-yard score were two of the best of the day. Griffey’s touchdown catch was his first of the season. Samajie Grant had a 41-yard catch early in the second half with the UA faced with a 3rd-and-10. True freshmen Jonathan Haden and Tyrell Johnson each had one catch for three yards. The receivers had a really solid day with just a couple of drops on the day.
Offensive line: A: Wazzu coach Mike Leach complimented the maturity of Arizona’s offensive line after the game because of a strong performance. Junior Cayman Bundage started at left guard after missing the USC game with a knee injury. He looked solid and certainly didn’t appear to have a weak game. Tackles Mickey Baucus and Fabbians Ebbele held up well on the edge and Steven Gurrola and Jacob Alsadek were quiet on the inside. Arizona averaged 4.4 yards per carry in the win and Solomon was sacked just once. Solomon having one of his sharpest games of the season is definitely tied to the line’s performance.
Front six: B: Arizona rolled out some new wrinkles on defense against the Cougars and the front looked considerably different. Instead of starting three down linemen with a nose guard, Arizona had four on the line most of the game without using a nose. Ends Dan Pettinato and Reggie Gilbert pinched inside and linebackers Scooby Wright and Derrick Turituri came down to play defensive end. Tra’Mayne Bondurant then served as the only true linebacker. The move was made to get more pressure on the quarterback and protect against the pass. In the end, Arizona held Wazzu to 2.7 yards per carry and, despite ending up with 489 yards, quarterback Connor Halliday did most of his damage late when the outcome was decided. Wright had three sacks and three forced fumbles. Anthony Lopez entered when Bondurant exited with an injury and had seven tackles and 1 ½ tackles-for-loss. Antonio Smothers and Trevor Wood got some reps throughout the game.
Back five: B+: The secondary looked a little different Saturday as well. Jamar Allah, who normally serves as Jourdon Grandon’s backup at free safety, started next to Grandon. Allah had eight tackles and was active. Jared Tevis had the best game on the back end with 13 tackles, 3 ½ tackles-for-loss and one sack. True freshman Cam Denson saw extended time and had his first career interception. Safety Will Parks notched his second pick of the season. Jonathan McKnight had seven tackles and two pass breakups. Jarvis McCall was shaken up in the first half and Denson came in. McCall never returned.
Special teams: A: This unit had its best game of the season. Neal had an 81-yard punt return just more than a minute into the game and showed off the return skills that had the coaches excited in the preseason. Jones picked up a loose ball on a Wazzu onside kick and returned it 44 yards for a score. Johnson had a 38-yard kick return. Kicker Casey Skowron had just one field goal attempt, but connected on it from 31 yards. He also had six touchbacks on 10 kickoffs. Punter Drew Riggleman averaged 49 yards on four punts.