Observations: UA vs. NAU

Arizona defeated Northern Arizona on Friday and there is plenty to take away from the victory. Read on to see what it means for the three phases of Arizona and more.

There was a lot to like as Arizona opened up the 2013 season with a convincing 35-0 win over Northern Arizona.

The Lumberjacks may just be an FCS team, but as powerhouse conference schools around the country learned the hard way this weekend, they are not to be taken lightly. Just ask Kansas State, Kentucky or Oregon State.

Here are the major takeaway points from Friday night's victory.

  • The main storyline prior to the game, other than who would start at quarterback, was the full-game suspension to Ka'Deem Carey.

    In the opinion of this writer, Rich Rodriguez made the correct call by suspending his star tailback.

    He sent a loud and clear message that he would not put up with shenanigans, regardless of how talented that player may be, and also allowed Daniel Jenkins and Jared Baker a handful of touches.

    Everyone benefited in the end and the team can now put the issue to bed.

  • B.J. Denker only took a couple of shots down the field and drew the ire of a lot of fans for his run-first tendencies.

    While Denker did miss a couple of open receivers to move the chains, it's important to remember Rich Rodriguez and the coaching staff had zero reason to open up the playbook for other teams to scout.

    Once the competition improves, look for Denker to start tossing the ball down the field more and more.

    He isn't going to be Matt Scott, but he also isn't going to just throw for 87 yards as he did Friday.

  • It was pretty clear the defense was much better off with added depth, size and skill at nearly every position.

    Scooby Wright made the start and played as well as anyone on the field after earning high marks from the coaching staff all summer.

    Freshman cornerback Devin Holiday intercepted a pass as well. NAU isn't exactly an offensive powerhouse, but there was a lot to like from Jeff Casteel's defense.

  • For as good as the offense and defense looked, special teams were a mess. Nate Phillips muffed two punt returns and was quickly replaced by Johnny Jackson.

    Jake Smith missed a field goal that he should have made, but Brian Chacon also had a high snap on the play.

    Drew Riggleman nearly whiffed on two of his four punts. It's early and the special teams units tend to be sloppy early in the year, but improvements need to be made.

  • The Wildcats did a good job of not beating themselves. They took just two penalties all night long, including a somewhat questionable late-hit call on NAU quarterback Kyren Poe in the first half.

    Denker and the offense did not turn the ball over. The only real blemish was Phillips' two muffed punts, and the ‘Cats still managed to cover the ball up.

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