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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcats out to avoid fate of UM

    By no stretch of the imagination is the Arizona football team at the same level nationally as Michigan football.

    Then again, when a team like Appalachian State, a Division I-AA opponent, comes into the Big House and beats a team like the then-No. 5 Wolverines last week, the eyebrows of every NCAA coach are raised as the men from Boone, N.C., became the first D-IAA team ever to knock off a nationally-ranked team.

    A major upset. That’s what NAU head coach Jerome Souers might have on his mind.

    Arizona head coach Mike Stoops said last week’s Big 10 Conference upset opened up his eyes.

    “”You can’t take anything for granted,”” Stoops said. “”We certainly won’t.””

    “”You always think that it’s only a matter of time before (the game) gets turned,”” he added. “”The longer those teams hang around, the better chance they have to win, and that’s exactly what happened.

    “”You gain confidence as games go on, especially when a superior team is playing a lesser team and the pressure goes on that team. That’s kind of what happened.””

    Although the Wildcats are coming off a loss and a very poor offensive showing at Brigham Young last weekend, the Lumberjacks are one-up in the win column after razing Western New Mexico, 47-0.

    Last year in NAU’s matchup with its other intrastate rival, ASU, the game was tied at 14 going into the fourth quarter. The Sun Devils won the contest, 35-14, but the Lumberjacks showed the ability to compete for the majority of the game.

    “”They have weapons at skill positions and a quarterback that’s very elusive,”” Stoops said. “”Hopefully our guys will understand that this is a very good, well-coached team.””

    The Lumberjacks will not have 2006 Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year Jason Murrieta, a quarterback who used up his college eligibility last season. This year’s passer, Lance Kriesien, had more success as a wide receiver than a quarterback before this season.

    Entering the 2007 season, he had four rushing touchdowns, three receiving and one passing in only 12 pass attempts.

    Alex Watson returns at wide receiver after transferring from Houston before last season. He recorded 1,017 receiving yards and caught 15 touchdowns passes in his first year as

    a Lumberjack.

    Defensively, the Lumberjacks do not posses a lot of size on the line or at cornerback, but the team makes up for it with speed.

    “”They try to create confusion, and it can be disruptive,”” Stoops said.

    Although the possibility of an upset is not imminent, some UA players realize the mentality that nothing is to be taken for granted.

    “”That’s how you have to play against teams like that,”” cornerback Antoine Cason said about last week’s Michigan game. “”You can’t sit back and be conservative on the road. You can’t go in and say, ‘This is a good team: We’re going to

    get beat.””

    “”They went out there and played hard and they did things they weren’t expected to do.””

    Added wide receiver Mike Thomas, “”We can’t discredit the teams that are going to come

    in here.””

    The team is also just pleased to have its home opener. In the last 19 years, the Wildcats have lost one home opener, and that was against Ohio State in 2000.

    “”I think it’s gonna be a good atmosphere,”” strong safety Cam Nelson said. “”Hopefully we’re going to come out with a win.””

    For NAU, the preparation of playing a team like Arizona is certainly a much taller task than the previous week, but next week NAU plays the very team who just upset Michigan – Appalachian State.

    “”Every game we approach the same way,”” Stoops said. “”Hopefully we execute. This is a very talented team that can make you look silly.””

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