NAU Defensive Preview

NAU's strength is likely on the defensive side of the ball. Read on for a complete preview, including the players to watch out for and more.

With the season kicking off Friday, quarterback Kyren Poe's inexperience is the obvious concern for any Lumberjack fan, but it will be fascinating to observe the performance of the undersized defensive line.

NAU will be giving up north of 50 pounds per man up front, making it necessary for its linemen, particularly preseason all-conference defensive tackle Tim Wilkinson, to penetrate up field in order to stop Arizona's run game and to avoid letting B.J. Denker get into any sort of rhythm.

MLB Austin Hasquet is the leader of the linebacking corps. The 225-pound junior can be a force stopping the run, but needs to contribute more game changing plays. The other linebackers are largely undersized and lacking experience.

The unquestioned strength of the NAU defense is its secondary. Despite playing cornerback, Anders Battle is the team's leading returning tackler and a solid cover man as well.

Look for him to rely on his strength and contest the UA wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.

Battle is afforded chances because one of the best safeties in college football is lining up behind him. The epitome of a ball hawk, there is nothing "lucky" about Lucky Dozier's game.

Weighing only 185 pounds, Dozier is a disruptive force who led the Lumberjacks in interceptions, while finishing among the team leaders in tackles.

The other safety, Blair Wishom, is a solid player in his own right, and though he doesn't have the name recognition of the aforementioned defensive backs, he might be just as important to the team.

Because of Marcus Alford's inexperience, the second corner spot is a slight concern for the Lumberjacks, but the nickel seems to be in a good spot with veteran Mike Dosen.

If NAU's front seven gets consistently blown off the ball, the game is over. But if the unit can slow down Arizona's run game, things could get interesting, given the talent in NAU's secondary.

Players to Watch

#20 S Lucky Dozier: One of the best safeties in FCS football, Dozier is undersized, yet stout in run-support and instinctive in coverage. He figures to make an impact early.

#19 CB Anders Battle: Dozier and Battle are the leaders of the lumberjack defense. Battle is a sure tackler and will be counted on to be physical while blanketing most teams' top receiver.

#90 DT Tim Wilkinson: The star of a scrappy line, Wilkinson is one of the top returning interior pass-rushers in FCS football. The UA interior line must limit his impact on Denker's comfort level.

Keys to the Game

Create an Early Turnover: Looking to alleviate the pressure on a first year starting quarterback, NAU will likely try to run the ball early. When NAU is forced to throw, it's imperative that the UA's playmakers -- Bondurant, Flowers, Tevis etc.-- shut down the quarterback's first reads.

Run the Ball: Whether it's Ka"Deem Carey or Daniel Jenkins, UA should take advantage of its strength in the trenches.

Avoid the early turnover: As stated above, BJ Denker will be operating against a very talented secondary, making it crucial that he hold on to the ball so Arizona can fully exploit its superior team talent.

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