The Arizona Wildcats opened the 2013 season with a 35-0 victory over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. They did so without star running back Ka'Deem Carey, who was suspended about two hours before the game "per team policy", and with a quarterback in B.J. Denker who has very limited game experience coming into this year.
@azdesertswarm a lot of work.— Brian Pace (@AZinSeattle) August 31, 2013
The defense showed some of the vast improvements from last year, including many contributions from freshmen Scooby Wright, Derrick Turituri, and an interception from Devin Holiday. And the game-changing play, a pick-six from junior Tra'Mayne Bondurant.
@azdesertswarm Opponent be damned, I'll take a shutout with 3 turnovers!— Scott Mather (@scott_mather) August 31, 2013
@azdesertswarm A shutout against any team is a welcome result.— SB (@hophead68) August 31, 2013
@azdesertswarm Scooby Wright is a beast. Passing game needs work.— Shoaib Aziz (@shoaibaz) August 31, 2013
@azdesertswarm A shutout is always hard to do. And I find it funny that fans think this is our offense.. way more to the playbook— Brandon Sepulveda (@BSepulveda) August 31, 2013
@azdesertswarm I liked the Defense they did a good job but don't really know about our WR yet. The RB's looked good.— Tim Barkley (@tcbdbackfan) August 31, 2013
One run by QB Javelle Allen, a 61 yarder up the gut, left Arizona fans wondering if maybe he should be the QB going forward.
@azdesertswarm denker is too much of a run first guy. Throw the ball— Joe Maya (@Joe_Maya) August 31, 2013
@azdesertswarm If it was the 1930s and you never had to throw the ball, this team would be amazing. (Small sample size)— Charlie Gebow (@CLEFOAINTACRIME) August 31, 2013
@azdesertswarm Denker did some things, but not enough to separate himself, d looks better, special teams is……. Concerning.— Justin J (@jollything) August 31, 2013
@azdesertswarm qb's can run, can they throw? Special teams... umm special. D looks a lil better.— z (@Bigz3109) August 31, 2013
To be fair to the passing game, it is the first game against an inferior opponent, so RichRod's not going to show the entire playbook. Also, NAU's secondary is the most skilled part of their defense, so challenging it over and over with a fresh face at QB would not have exactly been smart anyway. The way to succeed against NAU is to run bootlegs and call designed sweeps for the quarterback. Last but not least, it was raining the entire game. Why risk a ball slipping out of Denker's hand and ending up with NAU gaining momentum on a turnover?
I don't think it was that big of deal that the Cats didn't throw the ball very much.
Special teams were bad. Freshman Nate Phillips had a rough time trying to catch punts, and was eventually replaced by Johnny Jackson in the second half. And what would an Arizona Football game be without a missed FG? A 28 yarder no less. Jake Smith did go 5-for-5 on PATs though, which are definitely not a forgone conclusion in Tucson. And Drew Riggleman had a couple of horrible punts.
A couple of final stats: Arizona finished with 306 rushing yards on 34 attempts, good for an average of 9 yds/att. A lot of that has to do with Daniel Jenkins' 91 yard gallop and Javelle Allen's 61 yarder, but still a good looking number.
Passing yards? NAU had 176, Arizona had 87, all by B.J. Denker. 393 total yards on offense on just 47 plays ain't bad people.