Currently sitting in seventh place among the Big Sky crowd, Northern Arizona hits a point in their season where they can either further climb the ranks of the conference or sink into obscurity as they look to take the momentum of their Homecoming victory and challenge the team that sits directly beneath them among the Big Sky in Northern Colorado. The Jacks hope two straight weeks of home cooking will be enough to help in the cause for victory, as they will surely have the assistance of the ghouls and ghosts sitting among the crowd for a Halloween edition of Big Sky Football.
Butler Needs To Continue To Serve
Emmanuel Butler has become quite a name to be reckoned with in the FCS as he has found himself in the middle of a tremendous season with quarterback Case Cookus throwing him the ball throughout the year. Butler finds himself in the top ten of receptions per game and receiving yards per game. He has also put his name in the running for the scoring title in the Big Sky with his 54 points scored thus far where he ranks in at fifth in the Big Sky. This upcoming match looks to be another opportunity for Butler to pad his stats and make an imprint on the game as Northern Colorado’s pass defense ranks at just 9th in the conference. That being said, it would not be a surprise to see the sophomore wide receiver double covered through most of the game and it will be interesting to see who would step up after that if Butler can’t find the soft spots in the zones. It is a large drop off after Butler, but it will likely be up to Dejzon Walker and Alex Holmes to take advantage of the added attention Butler will take up.
Keep The Ball In Your Hands
The turnover battle has not been quite pleasing for the Lumberjacks this year as they sit at a -4 at the moment. And they haven’t been all on one person sadly. The team has had three interceptions thrown by Case Cookus this year, with another two thrown by backup Kyren Poe and four lost fumbles on the year. Northern Colorado sit currently at +2 in that category and if that trend continues the Bears will find themselves with a short field to work with and would further put pressure on a defense that has now been favorable to watch as of late. The Lumberjacks continue to search for that first red zone stop of the season and sit in the bottom half of both rushing defense and pass defense among the teams in the Big Sky. They’ve gotten quarterbacks to throw them some errant throws throughout the year and look to try and add to the 5 they’ve already collected this year. The more time and care the Jacks put into controlling the ball should lead them to a good result this Halloween day.
Still A Third Of The Game
Field position is everything when you are a football coach and Ernest Collins has been getting that all season after forcing his opponents to punt the ball back to his team. Ellis Onic is becoming a serious weapon in the Big Sky with his returning skills that puts the Bears at the top of the Big Sky in both categories. Northern Colorado has returned two kick offs and two punts for touchdowns and the averages of 31.9 and 24.5 yards for each of those situations respectively makes the concept of kicking the ball in bounds a very dangerous suggestion. And the Big Sky has taken note of that fact as there have only been 11 kick offs that have been returned by the Bears as well as just 10 punts that were able to be brought back for them. If the Lumberjacks have any ideas of kicking to Onic or the Bears as a whole they should check themselves into a clinic immediately. Special teams are still a third of the game, and this third could ruin the whole game for Jerome Souers and company if they allow Northern Colorado to use it.
The game will air of Fox Sports AZ at 2 PM in Flagstaff, Arizona in the Walkup Skydome.