Arizona isn’t a young team. The Wildcats have 11 projected senior starters between the offense and defense.
Arizona’s isn’t an old team. The Wildcats have five new starters on the offensive line, three on the defensive line, and they have virtually no juniors with more than a handful of experience.
So many key juniors are on the sideline — safety Adam Hall, linebacker Jake Fischer, running back Greg Nwoko and defensive tackle Willie Mobley — while they rehab from ACL injuries.
Their absences have created an unusual gulf between the team’s veterans and its promising young players.
It will be the progress of those young guys that determines if Arizona goes up, down or sideways this season.
“We are relatively young in some areas, but we have a lot of experience in other areas,” Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. “It’s a unique team. It’s a little bit of a transition with a real stable group of senior leaders. I like that combination. I think it works well. …
“The youth movement is a little more than we like but that’s just due to a rash of injuries that put us in this situation where we have to rely more on our depth than we have in the past. That’s going to help your team in the long run.”
Numbers to note
Stoops is 4-0 against NAU, starting with a 21-3 victory in the 2004 season-opener, his first game with the Wildcats.
Arizona has ramped up its offense in subsequent meetings against the Lumberjacks after gaining 307 yards in 2004. The Cats went for 442 yards in 2005, 490 two seasons later and 559 yards in 2009.
That’s an average of 497 yards in the past three meetings.
NAU player to watch
RB Zach Bauman — The sophomore from Chandler Hamilton High School ran for 1,059 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as a freshman. Bauman (5-10, 200) also caught 28 passes for 308 yards and two scores. “He is a guy we really looked hard at,” said Stoops. “He’s a very complete player, comes from a very good program here in state. I’m sure he will be champing at the bit to come down here and prove himself.”
NAU junior quarterback Cary Grossart won a three-way fall camp battle to replace the departed Michael Herrick. Grossart attempted four passes last season.
“We’re really excited with how guys have improved in that position,” NAU coach Jerome Souers told the Arizona Daily Sun. “Cary’s been here and one of the things that separated him from some of the other guys was his rapport with the seniors. It was really obvious in the way they responded to him.”
He said it
“They are not going to give you anything. You’re going to have to go out and earn it, and that’s OK. We want to go out there and prove ourselves.” — Stoops, on NAU.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 14th installment of our 24 Hours of Arizona Football Blogging — one post at the top of every hour. Keep checking back at TucsonCitizen.com through Friday at 11 a.m. or follow the entire series with the “24 hours of blogging” tag.