The student section was rowdy and ready for another season of college football. After taking a beating in the Holiday Bowl at the hands of Texas, Rudy Carpenter and the boys looked prepared to show their fans that they are a legitimate Pac-10 contender.
The first thing I noticed was the inexperience of the offensive line really shining through. While statistically looking good on paper, Rudy was flushed out quite often. He showed his mettle and got rid of the ball when he needed to, rather than taking those sacks he was so familiar with.
To be fair to the line, they look promising. There are no guarantees in college football, but if they can give Carpenter 4 seconds to find a receiver, there will be hell to pay.
Lets move on to the skill positions.
Kerry Taylor found a seam up the gut to score the first touchdown of the season, a 52-yard beauty that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Taylor is really developing his routes and looks to be a deadly combination receiver playing alongside Chris McGaha and Michael Jones.
Keegan Herring was out with his sore hammy, but it was a good idea to give Dimitri Nance the majority of the carries (and allow Jarrell Woods the opportunity to play). Nance punched in multiple touchdowns, showing his size on the goal line opportunities.
Danny Sullivan has been looking awful. If he can't do any better than 1/7 on passing attempts against a Division 1-AA opponent, Dennis Erickson may have to reorder the depth chart.
This was Danny Sullivan's first Pac-10 passing attempt ever, against UCLA in 2007.
Thomas Weber hasn't slowed down at all, and looks every bit as good as he did last year when he won the Lou Groza award for best kicker in college football. His punting is much improved as well, with a long of 59.
On the other hand, Robbie Dehaze, NAU's punter/kicker, has a fantastic leg. I would not be surprised to see him land an NFL gig when all is said and done. His 63-yard punt was an absolute bomb, and to have actual coverage downfield would make him an asset.
Speaking of punts, NAU's starting QB, Lance Krieisen, tried a pooch punt on 4th and 12 in the ASU 36. It was a complete disaster and ended up going out at the ASU 23 for a whopping 13 yards. Better than an incomplete pass, right?
Kriesien is a speedy player, and his option runs are good practice for the big time opponents like Knowshon Moreno. With experience against a roving quarterback, everything else will fall into place with our maturing defensive core.
Luis Vasquez and Dexter Davis didn't skip a beat and look ferocious on every down. They chase restlessly until the play is over, and set good precedent for the young defensive tackles like Jonathon English.
The new dance/cheer combo looks good in their new uniforms, and the band sounds as good as ever. Now, if only I could get the student section to stop cheering "F*** NAU" or "F*** the Lumberjacks" and come up with something a little more biting...