The UA’s report card for its 44-20 road win at Colorado.
Quarterbacks: A-: The only thing that keeps Denker from getting a straight A here is his second quarter interception. Other than that, the lefty was about as good as he can be. The senior made strong reads all game on the ground and knew when to hand it off to Ka’Deem Carey and when to get chunks of yards with his own legs. Colorado isn’t a Pac-12 power obviously, but to average nearly 13 yards per carry (12.8) in a league game is impressive. He finished with 192 yards on 15 carries. Denker also threw some of the best passes he’s had all season. He was throwing downfield with confidence and trusted his arm in big spots.
Running backs: A: Carey wasn’t great, and he still went for 119 yards, four touchdowns and a 5.2 yard per carry average. It was clear that the Colorado defense was focused on shutting Carey down and taking away his inside runs. The junior still managed to get chunks of yards when his team needed it. His 30-yard run in the second quarter — his longest of the night— set up Denker’s lone touchdown pass of the game and put Arizona in great shape before halftime. Daniel Jenkins also had a 56-yard run in the fourth quarter and had 87 yards on nine carries. As a team, Arizona rushed for 405 yards.
Wide receivers: B+: Like Denker, this group continues to get better and more active. Freshman Samajie Grant was a nice safety option for Denker all night and had a team-high six catches. Nate Phillips had four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. He now has a score in three straight games. Senior Terrence Miller had one of his better games of the season with three catches for 69 yards, including a 43-yard gain from Denker. David Richards was active early and had three catches for 50 yards.
Offensive line: B: This is a tough unit to grade. They certainly deserve credit for opening up enough holes for Arizona to run for more than 400 yards, but the holes weren’t huge for Carey and he didn’t always have a lot of room to run. Lene Maiava played plenty at right tackle for Fabbians Ebbele. Ebbele wasn’t hurt and UA coach Rich Rodriguez said he wanted to get Maiava in there. Center Steven Gurrola was hurt and missed a few snaps. Carter Wood stepped in and seemed to do fine before Gurrola returned. This group was above average, but probably not excellent, which is why it earns a solid B.
Front six: B+ The front didn’t generate a lot of pressure on Colorado freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau early in the game and he was able to sit back and have time to throw. The UA got a lot more pressure in the second half and his production trailed off. Colorado averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and the UA’s defensive front pretty much eliminated the Buffaloes running attack. Freshman linebacker Scooby Wright led the team with nine tackles. Reggie Gilbert continued his strong play on the line with six tackles.
Back five: B: Colorado receiver Paul Richardson gave UA’s defensive backs fits in the first half, but the group did a solid job adjusting to him in the second half and limiting him to one catch. Considering this group was down two starters — Jared Tevis and Tra’Mayne Bondurant — it’s hard to be critical about much. Sophomore Will Parks did a solid job filling in for Tevis, registering seven tackles, two pass breakups and an interception. Anthony Lopez had five tackles in Bondurant’s spot. Corners Jonathan McKnight and Shaq Richardson didn’t have the greatest night, but they were good enough.
Special teams: B: Starting with the kicker, Jake Smith had a very solid game. The senior was 3 for 3 on field goals, including a make from 37 yards out. He was also perfect on extra points and had seven touchbacks in nine attempts. It was one of his stronger games of the season. Punter Drew Riggleman had a 19-yard punt in the second quarter he’d surely like to have back , but still managed to end with a decent 37-yard average and land two punts inside Colorado’s 20. The return game didn’t generate much, but held onto the ball.