clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona vs. NAU: Thoughts and Reactions From Season Opener

There was a lot of good, a little bit of bad, and even some ugly from the Wildcats in their matchup with the Lumberjacks. Let's take an in-depth look at the game:

The Good:

The Air Attack:

Maybe Northern Arizona doesn't have the best secondary around, but the Wildcats passing attack looked really strong on Saturday night. Nick Foles ended his night going 34-for-42 for 412 yards and five touchdowns. He did not have a turnover.

As far as his targets go, Juron Criner had six catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. David Roberts led the unit with seven receptions for 58 yards. Keola Antolin hauled in five passes out of the backfield, including an impressive 16-yard touchdown catch-and-run that wowed everyone at Arizona Stadium. Gino Crump, Austin Hill and Richard Morrison -- who, in my opinion, had one of the best overall games of any player on the team -- all brought in touchdowns as well.

This unit is going to be relied on heavily this season to win games, and if this performance was any indication, the team will be in good hands.

The Defensive Line:

For a unit that only returned one full-time starter, the defensive line was in the NAU backfield all game long. Defensive ends C.J. Parish made plays and Mohammed Usman's name was seemingly being called out every other play. Justin Washington solidified the rush defense up the middle and the massive Sione Tuihalamaka wrecked havoc on the much smaller Lumberjack offensive line.

CatVision HD

Honestly, it's tough to keep your eyes on the actual football field. The gigantic video board is that awesome. How did we ever watch a game without it?

The Bad:

The Running Game:

The Wildcats finished with 101 rushing yards. Of those yards, about 60 of them came from freshman Ka'Deem Carey once the game was out of hand in the fourth quarter. To be fair, the team did only run the football 17 times, but when they did, Antolin struggled to gain more than a few yards. That has to improve.

Shaquille Richardson

If fans did not see the fuss over Jonathan McKnight's injury last season, now they all know why: the Wildcats have a potentially serious problem at the corner back position opposite of Trevin Wade. Richardson did make quite a few tackles and did break up a few passes, but the NAU offense targeted the cornerback's side of the field whenever they could.

Two of the next three games for UA (Oklahoma State, Stanford) feature one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and the other (Oregon) has an offense that can put a lot of points in a very short amount of time. If Arizona's defense wants to have a chance against these teams, Richardson -- or a different player -- needs to step up and step up in a hurry.

The Ugly:

The Kicking Game:

A botched snap in the first quarter, a missed field goal, and a missed extra point all happened in this game. The worst part is this scenario could be from just about any UA game since the 2009 season. Junior college transfer Jaime Salazar did not impress and Alex Zendejas' struggles are well documented.

At what point does Arizona start going for it on fourth down once they're inside the 40-yard line? At what point does Arizona start going for two after every touchdown? 


10 penalties for 74 yards. While most of those were caused by false starts from the offensive line, the Wildcats need to clean up their game if they hope to win big this season.

What's Next?

Arizona now has less than five days to prepare for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who will enter Thursday night's game ranked in the top-10. Their last meeting in the Alamo Bowl was not pretty. The game will be televised in front of a national audience on ESPN.