Northern Arizona - Arizona TV viewer guide
Game day: August 30, 7 p.m. PT
Stadium: Arizona Stadium - Tucson, Ariz.
Northern Arizona - Arizona TV information: Pac-12 Networks
Story lines: At a school known much more for its storied men’s basketball program, there seems to be a real buzz about this Arizona football team. You can thank Rich Rodriguez for that, as he turned a 4-8 2011 Wildcat squad into an 8-5 2012 New Mexico Bowl champion in his first year. It wasn’t just that Arizona won more games that made this team exciting; it was how the Wildcats did it. With the help of fifth-year senior quarterback Matt Scott, RichRod’s quick-hitting spread offense racked up more than 525 yards per game (seventh in the nation) while tallying up more than 38 points per contest (tied for 15th). On the other side of the ball was a new look as well, and while the 3-3-5 odd stack was responsible for giving up its fair share of big games to opposing offenses, it also allowed individuals like rising senior linebacker Jake Fischer to shine, as he has been named to the 2013 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List.
In order for Fischer’s swan song to be as good as 2012 or better from a team perspective, a new signal caller will have to pick up where current Jacksonville Jaguar Matt Scott left off. Despite the season nearly here, we still don't know who the starting quarterback will be in Tucson. Will it be B.J. Denker, the only quarterback on the roster that has taken a snap at the U of A and completed more than two-thirds of his passes in limited action last year? Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham? USC-turned-juco dude-turned-Wildcat Jesse Scroggins? Or perhaps it will be true freshman Anu Solomon, a dual-threat QB who led Bishop Gorman High School to near-perfection with a 57-3 record in his four years as a starter in Vegas. You might scoff at the idea of a rook taking over the reins, but don’t put it past RichRod – Pat White and Denard Robinson both saw significant playing time at QB in their freshmen seasons at West Virginia and Michigan under his tutelage.
Hey, you know what? We might see some combination of them against Northern Arizona, because RichRod hasn't ruled out playing two or three quarterbacks in the early stages of the season before making a real decision.
[Related: 2013 Arizona football schedule]
Northern Arizona will come into Arizona Stadium as perhaps one of the best teams to not make the FCS playoffs last year. Like this year, the Lumberjacks started off their season against a Pac-12 school with a lid-lifter at Arizona State in 2012. The Sun Devils romped the ‘Jacks 63-6 as part of the first night of Pac-12 Networks’ football broadcasts, but Northern Arizona went on from there to win its next eight games (including a defeat of the Mountain West’s UNLV on the road) and finish the season at 8-3. NAU returns plenty of talent from that team—nine starters are coming back on both sides of the ball. Running back Zach Bauman is one of those to watch out for on the Flagstaff side of things, as the ball carrier has been placed on the 2013 CFPA FCS Running Back Award watch list.
Last but not least, watching this Friday Night Lights game will give you a first look at Arizona’s new uniforms in game action. The change of color in the number sold me.
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