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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Last tune-up against NAU

Football
Football

Arizona football finally has some breathing room. They battled through youth, not naming a starting quarterback and the challenges posed by a talented Central Michigan team en route to starting the season 1-0.

And now they can relax, using this week’s matchup against NAU as a final tune-up before a rigorous schedule begins with a Sept. 19 trip to Iowa.

But the team probably won’t admit that.

“”Going into this week, we don’t want to get content and think that just because it’s NAU that we can take a week off and not play,”” said senior safety Cam Nelson. “”You saw a lot of that this past Saturday with all the close scores with the big-time schools against the smaller schools. We don’t want to come out and make that mistake.””

The theme of practice this week has been to focus on the task at hand and for the players to be more concerned with what the Wildcats do than what NAU or any other future opponent can do. That holds especially true with the offense.

“”The main thing is to just work on us right now,”” said senior wide receiver Terrell Turner. “”Not worry so much about the other team, just focus on what we have to do right now in our execution and get that down.””

Turner now has the luxury of knowing who his starting quarterback will be, as sophomore Matt Scott took all of the snaps against CMU despite weeks of speculation that Scott and fellow sophomore quarterback Nick Foles would split duties.

“”I was expecting him to go and throw it up a couple of times, but he didn’t,”” said Turner when asked if Scott is more comfortable now that he has a start under his belt. “”He kept his composure throughout the game so I was very proud of that. That’s his job, as the quarterback, is to go out and hold his composure and keep the offense moving.””

Coaches guaranteed that Foles will get some snaps this weekend, but whether or not they are meaningful or mop-up snaps remains to be seen. If he does play, the Arizona offense will be more of the same — a steady rushing attack with a conservative passing playbook that will see moderate expansion as time goes on.

Like Central Michigan, NAU runs a spread offense so the defense should be familiar with what is lining up against them.

“”There aren’t a lot of changes,”” Nelson said. “”There’s a lot of carryover from last week, so it’ll be sort of the same gameplan with a few tweaks here and there.””

The main tweak in the Wildcat’s strategy will be a focus on NAU’s rushing attack, which is better compared to what CMU had to offer.

“”Central Michigan is pretty much a pass team,”” Nelson said. “”But this week, (NAU) does run the ball pretty well. They have a really good running back and he’s been there a long time, and I remember facing him my sophomore year. He was a pretty good back.””

Looking at the big picture, NAU is merely a blip on the radar screen compared to the Wildcats’ next two games against Iowa and Oregon State. But a convincing 2-0 record heading into those games would be much more comforting than a 1-1 record.

“”We don’t see (them as an inferior school), we just see them as a big-time school in Arizona,”” senior linebacker Vuna Tuihalamaka said. “”We’re just going to do us and not worry about what they bring to the table.””

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