Game Talk: Arizona 37, NAU 3

The Cats are now 1-0 after winning the season opener against Northern Arizona. While a 34-point win is nothing to sneeze at, it could have been a lot worse. The Wildcats have 32 first year players on their travel roster and John Mackovic wanted to get as many of his rookies into the game as possible.

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"We took 68 players on our travel team to the hotel last night, and 32 of them had never played here, and they played well," said Mackovic. "Not only have they had little experience, they had no experience."

Nic Costa saw his first action of his career and connected on 3-of-5 passes for 26 yards. The speedy quarterback also had a bootleg for 19 yards, but was also sacked 3 times for 24 yards.

"I needed Nic to get in there," Mackovic said. "He can only bet better by playing football. He needs to get some real-life experience."

"It was exciting. It was a little different than I expected, we had some mishaps," remarked Costa. "I am glad I got it under my belt."

Jason Johnson had a fantastic night. Playing less than three quarters the Wildcat starter had 381 yards passing, including 316 in the first half.

"Jason was sharp tonight," said Mackovic. "He was on target. I think he can get better and he knows he can get better too, which makes him fun to coach. He had his best deep-game ball ever, with the exception of the USC game.

"It was a team effort," said Johnson of his performance. "My line gave me some great blocks and some new receivers stepped up. Lance Relford and Ricky Williams had good games and of course Bobby (Wade) played like an all star."

Michael Jolivette had two blocks, not bad considering he is new to the punt team.

"They just put me on the (punt) team this week for this very reason," Jolivette said. "We are putting a new emphasis on special teams."

The defense did a great job, limiting the ‘Jacks to just 202 total yards. Although NAU rushed for 115 yards, 65 of them came on one single carry.

"We had him wrapped up, but he still got out," explained Mackovic. "You take that away and they have 55 yards. We would have been very happy with that."

Arizona struggled on the ground, gaining just 103 yards on the night. Mackovic part of it is due in part to a depleted offensive line.

"With five of our top linemen out our offensive line had a hard time rooting them out," said Mackovic.


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