The Wildcats came out of the NAU game relatively unscathed. Other than a few bumps and bruises, no players were injured. Mike Stoops said a lot of that was due to the Wildcats' great conditioning.
Stoops admitted that the Wildcats ran a very simplified version of their offense and defense. He said that they did not want to show too much in an effort to leave Utah and Wisconsin a little bit in the dark. He indicated that the offense will show a lot more of the playbook this weekend.
Stoops agreed with one reporter who felt the team lacked a little bit of emotion. He said that part of it was due to a quiet crowd. He liked the turnout, but was concerned they were too quiet.
"It was almost like they were waiting for something bad to happen." He went on to say the players feed off the crowd and that he has been in the stadium when the fans were very loud.
AREA OF IMPROVEMENT
Stoops was concerned with the special teams. He indicated that one of Danny Baugher's punts was blocked and that some of their coverage teams left a little bit to be desired.
There was also some concern about Mike Bell carrying the ball 31 times. Bell was surprised to carry the ball that much but said he felt good. He has no problems carrying the ball that many times, but also indicated that he thought Gilbert Harris and Chris Henry were worthy of more carries.
The Cats fumbled twice and Stoops was not real happy about that.
Punt returner Ryan Eidson's alma mater De La Salle had its 151-game win streak snapped this weekend. Eidson played three years on the varsity and never lost a game. He did lose a game as part of the freshman team.
"It's a sad day in the land of the Spartans," the sophomore said.
Stoops joined four other first-year head coaches that won their debuts. He joined Eastern Michigan's Jeff Genyk, Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom and Nebraska's Bill Callahan. All told schools with new head coaches went 4-8. Just two of the last six Wildcat coaches, and just three of the last 11 coaches, won their debuts. Jim Young and John Mackovic also won their initial games on the Wildcat sideline.
Stoops indicated the Wildcats have been working on the Utah offensive attack all through fall camp. Since the option, especially Utah's complex option attack, is so tough to prepare for, the Cats have spent extra time working on defense.
Wildcat defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasasopo coached last season at Utah. Offensive coordinator Mike Canales coached and attended college in the state of Utah.
As of Monday afternoon Darrell Brooks had not seen his big hit on Kory Mahr. The shot not only caused a fumble, but it led to the NAU receiver stumbling several times as he tried to leave the field. The hit made ESPN's top-10 plays of the night on Saturday.
FIT AS A FIDDLE
To a man the Wildcats were thrilled with their conditioning. Most of the players admitted that they were not tired late in the game.
"I wasn't tired in the fourth quarter," Brooks said. "That's the first time I've ever been able to say that."
"I can't believe I carried the ball 31 times," Bell said. "I felt beat up a little bit, but I wasn't that tired. Last year I probably would have been injured or something."