Arizona Wildcats football is finally here. After a rough end to the 2010 season, the team returns with a nice mix of both veterans and up-and-coming underclassmen who are ready to create their legacies at UA. Injuries will derail the team of displaying their true potential early in the season, but there isn't any more time for excuses or days lost in the training room. It's game time.
The first opponent? The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks.
NAU is led by head coach Jerome Souers, who has spent 14 years with the program. The veteran coach tends to build his teams on the defensive side of the ball and then work from there. The Lumberjacks, similar to the Wildcats, have a mixture of both veterans and newcomers on each side of the ball.
Honestly, this game should not be close. Anything less than a 20+ point route would be considered a huge disappointment for Arizona. NAU could certainly hang around for a few drives, but the 'Cats should be able to use their athleticism and skill advantage to put the game away by half time.
Just How Good Is This Offense?:
Nick Foles is a dark horse candidate for the Heisman. Juron Criner is one of the best wide receivers in the nation. When healthy -- and he is healthy -- Keola Antolin is a solid running back and Ka'Deem Carey has the talent to have a big freshman season. Dan Buckner, David Douglas, and David Roberts all have the potential to have big games in the secondary. Will the offense live up to the hype and potential? Or will injuries and questions along the offensive line lead to a big letdown in Tucson?
A Cause For Concern:
The offensive and defensive lines are huge question marks for this team. While a big game from both units would provide nothing other than a confidence boost, there is a serious cause for concern should either line play poorly. With the exception of two returning starters, none of the other projected starters have played consistently in their careers to this point. With three top-10 teams looming in the following weeks, each unit will need to play well early and often with hopes to work out the kinks before the tough stretch of schedule arrives. Saturday may be the only chance they get.
The Future Is Now:
Ka'Deem Carey will enter the game as the No. 2 running back behind Keola Antolin. Everyone who has followed Wildcat football the last three seasons knows Antolin can only handle a few snaps before needing a breather. That means a lot of snaps for Carey, especially if the game gets out of hand in the second half. The top-ranked recruit will have all eyes on him for each snap and it will be interesting to see how the true freshman will react in the spotlight.
A Big Pretty Screen:
No, we aren't talking about the fifteen screen passes Arizona will throw on Saturday. The big deal in Tucson this weekend will be the unveiling of the massive LCD scoreboard that has been placed over the south end zone. The project has taken a year to complete and it provides a huge upgrade to the aging Arizona Stadium. It should be pretty damn cool to see the scoreboard in action.
Game Outlook and Prediction:
It may take a few snaps for the offense to get moving, but Foles, Antolin, Criner and Co. should have an easy game against the Lumberjacks. While Arizona's defense doesn't project to be stellar, they should be able to stop the opposition with relative ease.
Expect a few trick plays early for the Lumberjacks as they look to steal a touchdown or two, but in the end, Arizona wins 38-13 with the starters leaving in the third quarter.