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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats football preview: Axing the NAU Lumberjacks

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Tyler Besh
Tyler Besh / Arizona Summer Wildcat Head coach, Rich Rodriguez, speaks with the media at the Arizona football media day held in the new Lowell-Stevens Football Facility August 18, 2013.

On first impression, the NAU Lumberjacks and Arizona Wildcats football teams might seem to be in two completely different leagues.

Logistically, yes, NAU is in the Big Sky Conference and Arizona is in the Pac-12, but the matchup really isn’t that much of a stretch — there are many similarities between the two squads.

Last year, both teams finished with eight regular season wins. In fact, NAU had a winning season against Big Sky opponents, whereas the Wildcats finished fourth in the Pac-12 South.

“NAU is a good football team,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a press conference. “They have most of their team coming back, and they’re going to be fired up and jacked up to come play Arizona.”

The Lumberjacks have 18 returning starters this year, bringing depth to their squad, a theme that the Wildcats defense is very familiar with. According to senior receiver Terrence Miller, NAU’s defense brings depth as well.

“I have watched film on them, and they’re a great team,” Miller said. “They have a great defense and an experienced secondary mostly made up of upperclassmen.”

Similar to Arizona, NAU had a quarterback competition going on throughout the fall camp. Earlier this week, however, it was announced that sophomore Kyren Poe beat out the experienced junior Chase Cartwright, according to an NAU press release.

Poe was a fourth-string quarterback last season, while Cartwright found himself in a starting position after former starter Cary Grossart was injured.

Here in Tucson, Rodriguez has yet to announce the starting quarterback, although he mentioned in a press conference that senior B.J. Denker was the frontrunner coming into camp, and continues to have an edge. However, Rodriguez hasn’t counted out any of the underclassmen in the race either.

“With the inexperience we have, it’s an ongoing competition,” Rodriguez said in a press release.

There are a few other notable similarities between the two teams as well: Arizona was 79 percent in red zone scoring while NAU was 80 percent, and both teams scored averages in the 30s.

They might be from opposite ends of the state, but football-wise, the teams aren’t that far apart.

Last year, both NAU and Arizona fell to ASU. This game will be the first in-state matchup — and the first chance the Wildcats have to truly live up to their “our state” campaign.

The Wildcats take on NAU tonight at Arizona Stadium. Kick-off will be at 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

-Follow Scarlett McCourt @scarlettnoelani

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