The Associated Press
TUCSON — Arizona has started the season under a new coach and hopes to end a school-record losing streak.
The Wildcats narrowly missed a first loss to BYU and took a step back in a home loss to San Diego State last weekend, extending the losing streak to 14 games.
The next move to end the streak seems to be the best: Saturday against Northern Arizona.
Beating an FCS program without a win wouldn’t normally be a big deal for a Power Five school, but the Wildcats will get every win possible.
“I can’t wait to get our first win and lift that cloud and then from there go out there and play ball,” Arizona coach Jedd Fisch said. “I know that’s what we’re going to do.”
Fisch found hope in the desert after being hired last year, but the results on the pitch have yet to change.
Arizona (0-2) got off to a slow start against BYU before a late rally fizzled out in a 24-16 loss, then struggled in almost every phase of a 38-14 home loss against San Diego State.
Disappointed, the Wildcats had a week to sort things out before hosting the Lumberjacks.
“There were a lot of things that went wrong on Saturday night,” Fisch said. “I was very disappointed that we couldn’t get things done. I hold myself very responsible for all the losses and make sure the players get the rewards for the wins, as they should.
The numbers are in Arizona’s favor to end the losing streak against NAU (0-2).
The Wildcats haven’t lost to an FCS opponent since 2002, a 15-game stretch, and have won 14 straight against the Lumberjacks, averaging 68 points over the last three.
THE BEGINNING OF NAU
Northern Arizona got off to a rocky start to its third season under coach Chris Ball.
After a pandemic-delayed spring season, the Lumberjacks opened the season with a 42-16 loss to Sam Houston State and lost 34-7 to South Dakota last week.
Northern Arizona is allowing 470 yards per game, including 221.5 rushing yards, and quarterback Jeff Widener threw four interceptions to make up for 476 passing yards.
It certainly won’t get any easier on Saturday night against a bigger and faster team at almost every position.
“When we come up with a game plan it has to be simple and we have to be able to handle the swings of the game,” Ball said. “We are still not dealing with the wobble and physics of the game right now.”
Fisch makes a change at quarterback for Saturday’s game, leaving with Will Plummer after Gunner Cruz starts the first two games.
Cruz was solid against BYU, but threw for just 70 yards and a touchdown with an interception before being replaced by Plummer against San Diego State. Plummer threw for 109 yards and a touchdown after coming on in the third quarter after attempting three passes in limited action against BYU.
South Florida transfer Jordan McCloud could also see playing time on Saturday.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Arizona punter Kyle Ostendorp has a Pac-12 of seven punts for at least 50 yards and is averaging 45.8 yards on 16 punts. … Northern Arizona’s Carson Taylor has 14 career sacks, fifth on the school’s all-time list. … Arizona WR Stanley Berryhill III has 17 receptions for 169 yards in two games. … Lumberjacks WR Stacy Chukwumezie is 14th in the FCS with an average of 103.5 yards per game.
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