Northern Arizona 2009 Football Preview

 

2008 Record: 6-5, 4-4 Big Sky

 

Postseason: None

 

Head Coach: Jerome Souers

 

Returning Starters: 14 (7 Offense, 7 Defense)

 

Preseason Ranking: #21 by the Sporting News

 

Schedule

 

Sep 12, 2009 at Arizona Tucson, Ariz. All Day

Sep 19, 2009 Southern Utah Flagstaff, Ariz. 3:05 PM

Sep 26, 2009 Montana* Flagstaff, Ariz. 3:05 PM

Oct 03, 2009 Northern Colorado* (Family Weekend) Flagstaff, Ariz. 3:05 PM

 Oct 10, 2009 at Montana State* Bozeman, Mont. 12:35 PM

Oct 17, 2009 at Portland State *Portland, Ore. 1:05 PM

Oct 24, 2009 Idaho State* (Homecoming) Flagstaff, Ariz. 3:05 PM

Oct 31, 2009 at Sacramento State Sacramento, Calif. 2:00 PM

Nov 07, 2009 at Ole Miss Oxford, Miss. All Day

 Nov 14, 2009 at Weber State Ogden, Utah 12:05 PM

Nov 21, 2009 Eastern Washington* Flagstaff, Ariz. 3:05 PM

* Big Sky Conference

 

OFFENSE

NAU must replace multiple skill position performers. Junior Micheal Herrick (6’1″ 195lbs) takes over the quarterback responsibilities for NAU. He appeared in 10 games last year for the Lumberjacks, completing over 65% of his passes for 1043 yards, 3 TDs and 6 INTs. His best performance last year was in the season finale vs Eastern Washington, throwing for 283 yards. At running back, senior Alex Henderson (5’10” 205lbs) takes over after an injury plagued 2008 season. He ran for over 400 yards at a 5.9 yards per carry clip, but only appeared in 6 games due to injury. The Lumberjacks return their top 3 receivers from 2008 in senior Ed Berry (5’9″ 185lbs), senior Curt Sweeney (5’11” 179lbs) and senior Conrad Meadows (5’9” 180lbs). The 3 combined for 128 catches, 1722 yards and 6 TDs.

DEFENSE

The Lumberjacks boasted one of the best defenses in the NCAA FCS in 2008, ranking in the top 10 in many defensive categories. The leader of the 2009 defensive unit will be preseason Big Sky All Conference pick, LB Cody Dowd (Sr. 6’3″ 250lbs). Dowd is the only Lumberjack to be picked preseason All Big Sky. Sr. DE Micheal Battisti (6’3″ 235lbs) will anchor the NAU defensive front. Battisti had 6 QB sacks last year and was named to the Big Sky Honorable Mention team in 2008.

 

Outlook

The Lumberjacks are coming off of their 3rd consecutive 6-5 season in 2008, looking to challenge Montana and Weber State for supremacy in the Big Sky Conference. Facing the Lumberjacks are many different challenges in the 2009 season.

The schedule provides both challenges and opportunities for NAU. The Lumberjacks face two FBS (formerly Division I-A) opponents in the Arizona Wildcats in the season opener, and the Ole Miss Rebels on November 7. Both teams won 8 or more games, as well as their bowl games. The Lumberjacks must also travel to Ogden, Utah to face Big Sky power Weber State, as well as Bozeman, Montana to challenge Montana State. NAU does get to host Big Sky preseason favorite Montana on September 26 and Eastern Washington on November 21. The other home games for NAU are: September 19 against Southern Utah; October 3 against the Northern Colorado Bears; October 24 against the Idaho State Bengals for homecoming. The other road games for the Lumberjacks are: October 17 at Portland State; October 31 at Sacramento State.

 

Season Prediction:

Overall Record: 7-4

Conference Record: 6-2  3rd Place