Arizona beat NAU, 41-10, which is about what you would have expected for a final score, but a couple of problems from last season resurfaced: poor coverage in the secondary and a comedy of errors in the kicking game.
The good news was that the Wildcats, fueled by Trevin Wade’s interception early in the third quarter, grabbed momentum after leading only 14-10 at halftime.
“I thought it was a much better second half,” coach Mike Stoops said.
“Our guys played pretty clean most of the second half. The second quarter was disappointing. They controlled the ball almost the whole second quarter. Our coverage just wasn’t what it needed to be.”
At one point, NAU completed 16 consecutive passes, often targeting CB Shaquille Richardson.
“Shaquille can play better,” Stoops said. “He knows it. I wasn’t pleased with the way he played, and neither was he.”
Stoops said he doesn’t know what he will do at place-kicker for Thursday’s Oklahoma State game. Jaime Salazar missed badly wide right from 46 yards, and pushed a PAT wide right — not what Arizona wanted after Alex Zendejas’ misadventures late last season. Zendejas came in to kick the final PAT.
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Arizona has this one in hand. I’ll be back after the game with quotes, notes and observations. In the meantime, have your say in the comments section; what did you think?
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Nick Foles has his fifth TD pass of the game, this one going to WR Gino Crump in the back right corner of the end zone for an 18-yard score. Take note: Alex Zendejas — not Jaime Salazar — comes in to convert the extra point. Arizona leads 41-10 with 9:26 to go.
Foles is 34 of 42 for 412 yards. Nice start.
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Ka’Deem Carey gets his first college carry early in the fourth quarter. The true freshman from CDO gains 5 yard on his first attempt … and then runs the ball on the next play for 10 yards.
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Austin Hill’s first career catch is memorable. The redshirt freshman hauls in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles with 35 seconds left in the third quarter as the Wildcats have pulled away nicely after halftime. The Cats now lead 34-10.
Yes, 34 — not 35 — because Jaime Salazar was wide right on the extra point attempt.
Paging Alex Zendejas?
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Back to the blowout, as expected. Arizona drives 85 yards in five plays, fueled by a 28-yard pass to Juron Criner, who danced across the field to avoid several tackles, to take a 28-10 lead with 3:10 to go in the third quarter.
Nick Foles capped the drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass over the middle to a wide-open Richard Morrison.
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Arizona’s defense makes a play and helps give the Cats breathing room early in the second half. After a three-and-out by the UA offense, cornerback Trevin Wade jumps on a quick out, stepping in front of the receiver to pick off Cary Grossart at the 18-yard-line.
One play later, Nick Foles swung a pass to RB Keola Antolin to the left side. Antolin cut up field, broke out of an attempted leg tackle, headed down the left sideline and dived into the end zone, sticking the ball out inside the pylon.
Arizona leads 21-10 with 13:07 to go in the third quarter.
Until the interception, Grossart had completed 16 consecutive passes.
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Bad first-half sign, Part 1: NAU QB Cary Grossart has completed 16 of 17 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. Just think what Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon can do next week.
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Bad first-half sign, Part II: Arizona, with the memories of last year’s last-season kicking disaster still fresh, has botched field goals of 44 and 46 yards. A bad snap was the culprit on the 44-yarder, and then Jaime Salazar, who beat out incumbent Alex Zendejas this fall, missed badly from 46 yards.