Arizona-Northern Arizona: Five Things We Learned This Week

Tom PhillipsCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2009

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Running back Nic Grigsby #5 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring a 3 yard rushing touchdown against the UCLA Bruins during the second quarter of the college football game at the Rose Bowl on September 20, 2008 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

1. Grigsby Has To Hit The Hole

Nic Grigsby is by far the best running back on the team. His explosiveness and running is unmatched on the team and he can hit the end zone on almost any play. As much as this is his strength, it is also his weakness.

Grigsby is always looking to score on every run. What he has to realize, and has gotten better at, is sometimes it’s better to get three yards than to lose three trying to go for the home run.

He likes to dance too much behind the line of scrimmage looking for holes when he should take the short gain and get some yards for the Cats.

The 94-yarder was impressive, the second-longest in Arizona history. Who had the longest? The answer is at the bottom.


2. This Team Showed Flashes of Old Arizona Teams

For all the talk from Mike Stoops this week of not looking past NAU, the Cats were thinking about their trip to Iowa next week. The performance reminded of the New Mexico game from 2008.

The team came out very flat in that game, looking like they knew it would be a sure win.

Arizona made lots of mistakes: Willie Tuitama threw a couple of picks and the defense looked lackluster and lazy. Luckily for the Cats, it was NAU and they turned it on when they needed to.

If the Wildcats plan on moving into the upper echelon of the PAC-10, they have to realize what the USC’s and Florida’s of college football realize. The next game is your most important one.


3. The Kicking Game Will Cost The Cats

Despite his famous lineage, Alex Zendejas may cost Arizona a game or two. I do not trust him to win a game with a last-second field goal.

Zendejas missed an extra point and a field goal. The field goal kick was so low that it hit an offensive lineman in the back. 

Arizona has been spoiled the past six years with Nick Folk and Jason Bondzio and will go through some growing pains with a young, inexperienced kicker.

The Adventures of Alex should make for an interesting season for the Cats.


4. The Cats Plan To Win: Run

The pass-happy Arizona offense that we have seen in years past is seemingly gone, as is the shotgun. I don’t think that Arizona lined up under center last year as much as they have in the past two games.

The ground-based game plan is made out of necessity. With a young and unproven quarterback, the Cats are relying on their most proven assests. Grigsby and Keola Antolin proved that they are PAC-10 running backs.

The “other” Gronkowski, Chris, is a versatile fullback who excels at creating holes. Plus, Scott is a mobile quarterback who should think about using his feet more.

The spread will still be used, just don’t expect the ball to be thrown as much.


5. Foles Showed What Scott Hasn’t

Foles is by far the more complete throwing quarterback. Foles showed quick decision making and big arm ability when he was in the game. Scott, though, brings an intangible that the Cats haven’t seen since Ortege Jenkins, running.

I am all for using a two-quarterback system, but to be an effective quarterback, Scott needs to develop a rhythm. Foles does not. He showed that he is capable of coming in and leading a touchdown drive.

What will the Cats do if Scott shows he cannot be an effective thrower but is effective as a running quarterback?



-Sophomore wide receiver Juron Criner showed big-play potential, getting a touchdown catch and almost connecting with Foles in the third quarter for what would have been a huge play. Criner turned heads in training camp and once Scott becomes more confident in his arm, Criner will emerge as his go-to receiver.

-The defense started out very slow. You could tell they were relying on their athleticism to make plays in the first half. Once they realized they needed to show up, they turned on the gas. The D will need to step up big next week against Iowa if the Cats have any chance of winning.

-The one good thing about the tape delayed game for Arizona? No halftime. End of the second quarter, BAM, start of the third quarter. Beautiful (The game was tape delayed on Fox Sports ARIZONA, so Purdue vs. Oregon could be shown live and not NAU vs. Arizona)

-Answer: Trung Canidate. Canidate had a 96-yard touchdown rush in 1997 against San Diego State.