We had football this weekend! Not only that, the football was actually pretty entertaining! The Arizona Wildcats traveled to Honolulu to take on the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii in a week zero showdown. The game did not disappoint, there were plenty of entertaining moments as Hawaii was able to escape with a 45-38 victory. Let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly moments of week zero:
Cedric Byrd II
Byrd was the best player in this game and it wasn’t particularly close. The Wildcats bounced between zone and man defenses and had no answer for the speedy receiver. Byrd was electric over the course of the game and was a reliable target for both McDonald and Cordeiro. Byrd finished the game with an insane stat line of 14 receptions, 224 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Byrd is looking like an offensive player of the year candidate.
Cordeiro came on late in the third quarter for a struggling Cole McDonald. Cordeiro showed great poise in what was ultimately the game winning touchdown pass to Cedric Byrd. Did Cordeiro do enough to make this a quarterback controversy? I’m not so sure, but if McDonald goes down or continues to struggle, the Rainbow Warriors will be in good hands. The offensive line also did a phenomenal job protecting their quarterbacks.
Tate had a rough start to the game, his throws were off and he looked rattled. However, he is the only reason that Arizona was able to hang in the game. Tate finished with 361 yards passing and 108 yards rushing. He wasn’t as fast as he was a few seasons ago, but his speed and experience did keep the Wildcats in the game.
McDonald looked great one drive and awful the next. It almost became predictable, touchdown one drive and turnover the next. McDonald has the ability to be one of the best quarterbacks in the Mountain West. It isn’t very often that a quarterback throws for nearly 400 yards and 4 touchdowns and lands in this category, but four interceptions is unacceptable. Hawaii should have destroyed Arizona, but turnovers kept the Wildcats in the game.
Hawaii’s Quarterback Situation
Cordeiro or McDonald? This is a question that we may hear pretty frequently over the course of the season. For a freshman, Cordeiro looked poised and controlled operating the Hawaii offense. Hawaii has a week one bye and Nick Rolovich will have two weeks to make a difficult decision before the Rainbow Warriors take on the Oregon State Beavers on September 7th.
It was expected, but boy were they bad. Both of these teams have offenses that are electric and fun to watch, but their defenses looked poorly coached and lacked discipline. The teams combined for more than 1100 yards with most of them coming through the air. The secondaries for both squads really struggled as well.
As someone who has followed Marcel Yates career closely, I was shocked that he was still the defensive coordinator for the WIldcats. They were clearly the worst defense in the PAC 12 last year and the former secondary coach had a squad that looked lost for a large part of the first contest. Forcing six turnovers is great, but their defense had no answer for the electric Hawaii offense.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Stay tuned for next week’s edition as I will be covering week one in the Mountain West.