A collection of information written and said about particulars in tonight’s season-opener for Arizona at Arizona Stadium:
— NFL.com writer Bucky Brooks recently wrote a report that quoted one NFC scout saying UA junior running back Ka’Deem Carey “has some Reggie Bush” in him, comparing their physical running style. Brooks added that as long as Carey stays out of trouble off the field, his grade with NFL scouts will not be affected. “At a time when the NFL is trending toward two-back systems with running backs assigned to specific roles, Carey is thriving on the college landscape with a game that should make him a three-down back as a pro,” Brooks writes.
— Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com wrote a note about freshman return specialist/receiver Nate Phillips, who should electrify fans with his athleticism and strength. He’s tough to bring down in the open field. Gimino writes: “He set a UA receiver record early in camp by benching 225 pounds 16 times. This was a two-star athlete (out of Chandler Basha High School)”? “It kind of drives me,” Phillips told Gimino of the low rating, “but I didn’t buy into it that much.”
— The Wildcats’ marketing campaign claims that the state of Arizona is “Our state, your Wildcats … Make a STATEment”. NAU coach Jerome Souers begs to differ. Souers, entering his 16th year as NAU’s coach, has 48 players on his roster from Arizona, including two from Southern Arizona (former Nogales lineman Andy Bachelier — the Lumberjacks’ long-snapper — and Sabino offensive lineman Kyle Walker). Arizona features 33 players from the state, 14 of whom are listed as walk-ons.
“With the level of high school talent in Arizona improving day by day, I think it is important to get as many kids to stay in state as possible,” Souers told The Arizona Daily Sun. “I use the (Twitter) hashtag #StayInState because almost 50 percent of our roster is from the state of Arizona, and I’m happy to promote that fact.”
ASU lists 24 from the state on its 2013 roster, but does not signify if any are walk-ons.
UA coach Rich Rodriguez told reporters at the time of National Signing Date in February that recruiting Arizona is a priority to get to the Rose Bowl.
“We talked about it quite a bit when we first got here,” Rodriguez said in an interview with Sirius/XM. “There’s probably anywhere between 10 to 12 to 14 high-caliber BCS-level football players in-state and for whatever reason we don’t have a lot of them here.
“And they haven’t stayed in-state. They’ve gone out of state to different places. We want them to stay in-state. I want them all. I don’t want half of them. I want them all to come down here to the U of A. If we get the best players in the state of Arizona to come to the U of A every year, we’re going to be competing for the Rose Bowl. That’s kind of our pitch.”
— NAU has a former Pac-12 player on its roster, former Oregon receiver Nick Cole, who spent two years with the Ducks before transferring to the Flagstaff school in 2011.
Cole played in two games in 2010 for Oregon as a redshirt freshman, most extensively against New Mexico (although he did not catch a pass in the Ducks’ 72-0 victory). He practiced with Oregon’s first and second units in the spring and early fall of 2011 before transferring because of a lack of playing opportunity.
A senior from Concord, Calif., Cole caught 25 passes for 349 yards and three touchdowns last year for the Lumberjacks.
— The Wildcats’ opponent next week — UNLV — lost its season-opener at Minnesota 51-23 last night, adding to the misery of the Rebels program under embattled coach Bobby Hauck. UNLV has lost 23 consecutive road games, three short of the school record set from 1994 to 1998.
NAU upset UNLV last year in Las Vegas. It was the first win over an FBS school for the Lumberjacks since 1987. That occurred a week after ASU routed NAU 63-6 in Tempe.
The Wildcats play the Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Many fans from Tucson are expected to make the hour-long flight (or six-hour drive) to Las Vegas for the game. It could be a mixed crowd with as many UA fans as UNLV supporters at the 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium.
Many disgruntled UNLV fans wrote their opinion about the Rebels’ program in the comments section of the Las Vegas Review Journal’s game story this morning. UNLV has flirted with the idea of disbanding its football program in the past. The Rebels drew only 15,000 a game last season, when UNLV finished 2-11.
“My goodness what a horrible football program,” one fan named Kaotic wrote in the comments section. “All the hype this week that this team was much improved and even the coach had a chance to keep his job after the season. Scrap this train wreck and use the money for anything else because anything else is a lot better than this debacle.”
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.