It's hard to find a slew of negatives in a 37-3 effort, and as the score would indicate, Arizona looked pretty effective in most areas. Many will hearken to the running game as a potential issue of concern, but with the talent Arizona boasts at that position, it seems likely the ground attack will improve significantly as the season progresses.
Arizona delivered good grades in areas of efficiency Saturday night. NAU obviously made a concerted effort to stop the UA's running game, so as a result, Arizona carved up the Lumberjack secondary through the air. Jason Johnson had a highlight reel showing, converting on 20 of his 36 pass attempts for 381 yards, three touchdowns, and perhaps most importantly, no interceptions.
His favorite target, Bobby Wade, was on the other end of two scoring passes and 133 receiving yards. Simply put, Arizona took what NAU gave it, and did so very well. Perhaps the most telling number was 13-for-21 on third down conversions. If Arizona can register a similar percentage on third down efforts throughout the remainder of the year, it obviously bodes well, not just in terms of offensive efficiency, but in keeping the defense fresh.
Speaking of the defense, many undoubtedly take note of NAU's total yard numbers: 202. I was more pleased with an issue the Wildcat coaching staff covered all spring and into the August camp. The desire to swarm to the ball and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. The UA defense looked a lot more active in Saturday's opener. It was very reminiscent of the intensity that was a trademark of this program for many years.
The special teams did pretty well. Arizona averaged more than 43 yards on four punts and Wildcat kickers converted on three-of-four field goal attempts.
Was it a perfect performance? Not even close, but there were numerous positive elements from which to build. And Arizona gets an opportunity to continue that building process in a couple weeks when it squares off against Utah.
For one week in August, I was quite the popular guy. More popular than normal, which isn't hard. Because, for one week in August, I possessed a Nielson diary. Amazing indeed. Nielson, as you probably know, is the ratings service for television. Somehow, I was called at random, and instead of pretending I wasn't there, as is generally the case when a foreign voice calls (figuring it's a telemarketer) something prompted me to actually respond to the human on the other end. In the process of the interview, after announcing he was from Nielson, he asked if I had any affiliation with newspaper, television or radio. So I did what any true-blue American would do in the same situation when faced with the opportunity of being one of television viewing's elite. I lied.
He bought it. Whew.
Landing a Nielson diary, even for one week, is like winning the lottery. All of a sudden, friends who had forgotten about you, people who seemed bored by your very presence (which is pretty much everyone) started acting jovial again. They wanted me to include all their faves. And being the great pillar of humanity I am, for the most part I obliged. So basically, Schu's one-week Nielson book took on a sort of communal feel. Cat Tracks Editor Brad Allis wants me to be sure to log all 37 reruns of SportsCenter. His girlfriend Stacey insists I include CSI, American Idol and NASCAR. My friend Gabe begs me to make room for the UFO shows on the Discovery Channel. Laura petitions for The Daily Show and Beat the Geeks on Comedy Central (as a side note, I saw the Movie Geek at Fangoria in LA in mid-August. He was a pompous dweeb). Kelly in Chandler insists I make a reference to Big Brother. Ryan Radtke at KNST wants me to include Oakland A' s broadcasts, then wouldn't talk to me for two weeks when I tried to explain to him that an Internet broadcast doesn't quite count.
So to say the least, it was a diary with interesting viewing patterns. I went with most of the suggestions, being the rockin' cool guy I am, but since I had final say, Greg the Bunny on Fox didn't make the cut. It is MY Nielson book after all. Wrestling and UFOs, Passions and Geeks. That's ok, but a talking bunny puppet is just stepping over the line.
[Editor's note--I also asked him to plug "Behind the Music" and "Saved By The Bell"--Brad]