Arizona-Hawaii college football opener promises offensive fireworks

Arizona’s season-opening matchup at Hawaii on Saturday will be a study in contrasting offensive styles.

While both teams ranked in the top 50 nationally in total offense in 2018, the Wildcats (5-7 in 2018) did a lot of their damage on the ground, averaging 202.4 rushing yards per game to lead the Pac-12. The pass-heavy attack of the Rainbow Warriors (8-6, first winning season since 2010) aired it out at a clip of 310.3 yards per game, tops in the Mountain West.

Arizona running back J.J. Taylor and Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald are expected to take center stage when the teams meet Saturday for the first time since 2016.

Taylor, a 5-foot-6, 185-pound redshirt junior, ran for 1,434 yards last season, good for seventh nationally. It was the fourth-highest single-season rushing performance in Wildcats history.

McDonald, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior, finished eighth nationally in passing yards (3,875) and sixth in passing touchdowns (36). He threw for over 300 yards seven times and eclipsed the 400-yard mark three times last season.

“The scary part about this guy, McDonald, is he had a great year last year … and he’s coming back this year bigger and stronger, so they’ve got some weapons offensively and defensively, but I think they’ve got a quarterback that’s as good as probably there is in the country,” Arizona second-year coach Kevin Sumlin said.

McDonald has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Manning, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards. Taylor is on the Maxwell Award and Doak Walker Award watch lists.

Washington names QB: No. 13 Washington named Georgia transfer Jacob Eason its starting quarterback for the season opener against Eastern Washington.

Eason started as a freshman at Georgia, playing in 13 games and throwing for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016. He was injured in the first quarter of the season opener the following year and never regained the starting job after Jake Fromm led the Bulldogs to the national championship game.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Arizona-Hawaii-college-football-opener-promises-14375189.php.

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