10 storylines: NAU/Arizona

Normally a game between the UA and NAU would not arouse a whole lot of interest. Most fans would chalk it up to a Wildcat win and move on. After last weekend's performance against BYU coupled with the Michigan upset at the hands of a I-AA team, there are a lot of storylines heading into the contest.

1. Air Zona or Err Zona
After nearly eight months of hype the Arizona offense came out with a thud. The first half against BYU was among the worst offensive performances in the past 20+ years and there have been some doozies. No one really expected the new offense to put up the points that Texas Tech does, not yet anyways, but I think most expected the Cats to at least attack some in the first half.

2. Play calling
Was it all Sonny Dykes or did Willie Tuitama check down to the run too much. It is hard to tell, but for the better part of three quarters the Cats were conservative to a fault. Most fans will remember the fourth and five at the BYU 30 in the first quarter. The Cats ran a draw play and Wildcat fans had a Dick Tomey flashback. Observers expect a more wide open attack against NAU, but no one got what they expected against BYU.

3. Motivation
The past two games the Cats have come out flat. They looked flat in the season ending loss to ASU and they looked like they lacked fire against BYU. That is strange considering how the Cats have almost always been the more motivated team under Mike Stoops. It is hard to get up for a D-IAA team, but the Cats better find extra motivation if they hope to motivate their fan base.

4. Earl and Gronk
Two of the bright spots on the offense last week were Earl Mitchell and Rob Gronkowski. The bad news is they had just one touch each. Expect the two young players to get more attention their way.

5. Appalachian State factor
All summer long word has been from Flagstaff that they think they can win. After watching Appalachian State last week the Jacks now believe it. The worst thing the Cats can do is let NAU hang around. The longer the game is close, the more NAU will believe.

6. Alex Watson
Watson is legit. Just ask ASU. The Sun Devils gave up 214 yard and two first half scores against the NAU wideout. Overlooked by D-I teams Watson isn't being ignored anymore. He's good and the Jacks find ways to get him the ball. As good as the Wildcat defense is, they have their hands full with this one.

7. Running backs
Chris Jennings was ineffective against BYU. The Cats will give the senior the start against NAU, but he will share time with Xavier Smith and true freshman Nicholas Grigsby. Will one of the players grab the job or will this be a position by committee again?

8. The receiving corps.
Delashaun Dean was better than expected. Terrell Turner was nice, but where was the rest of the unit? Anthony Johnson, the star of the spring and fall camps, was shut out and Mike Thomas did not factor much. Did Mike Turner and B.J. Dennard even see the field? Expect a lot of bodies to play, but some players have to step up impress.

9. Defensive intensity
It is not that the defense was bad, they just didn't look great.. They have always been sort of a bend but don't break defense under Mike Stoops, but they took it to new extremes last week. Like the offense, they seemed to be playing very conservative on the road. They need to take it to the Jacks.

10. Pass rush
The Cats need to find a way to put pressure on the QB, without mortgaging pass coverage. The first quarter touchdown to Harvey Unga came off the blitz, but so did the first half fumble by BYU's Max Hall. The defensive ends especially need to put more pressure on the quarterback.


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