The Cats managed to pull one out, beating NAU 31-12. All in all it was a pretty much forgettable performance, missing that spark that we were hoping to see. I guess the Cats thought they could just mail this one in. Some talking points:
The crowd was really in to this one at the start. There were a few changes from last year, like the replacement of the inflatable helmet-tunnel with a pretty generic Bear Down Club banner that the team ran under to take the field. The big-screen video also took on a few changes, with the fireworks timed to explode with a shot of an NAU helmet. I thought both of these were a step backwards from previous years' introductions.
The ZonaZoo was in full voice, and actually got the crowd to sing along to the National Anthem. I can't remember the last time the student section extended all the way up to coffin corner. After halftime, though, the Zoo was half-empty, coinciding with the half-assed effort the team put forward in the second half. Stick around and keep 'em pumped, students!
The Pride of Arizona, again this year, did little but put on a pregame and halftime show. Seems like the rest of the time they are too busy pulling little stunts like dancing on the track or rolling their cymbals. Rarely did I hear Bear Down, and never did the band play the "2001" version. Come to think of it, I didn't even get to sing "Fight Wildcats." Or "All Hail Arizona" after the game. Empty those spit valves and play some songs. The NAU band and cheerleaders did much more to support the Jacks than their UA counterparts. As a former member of the band I lament the lack of support the band now gives the team. Hey - how about a few catchy drum cadences or something? Forget about playing to the camera and play for the TEAM.
I like the Crazy Train sound bite each time the offense took the field. Let's play like we're getting to bite off some heads ourselves.
No game programs for sale before the game? Or did they just run out? Unforgivable.
Coach Stoops gave a great sideline show throughout the game. Watching him alone was worth the price of my new binoculars.
How the heck did the staff and team miss that NAU fake punt in the first quarter? Heck - the Jacks didn't even have anyone back to punt the freaking ball! Nobody in our section was fooled at all. Big brain fart there, coach.
A win is win, each one precious to the Wildcats, so tonight's game will eventually just show up in the W column. What started with such promise tonight fizzled quickly after halftime. If the Cats will play for the entire game, the crowd just might stay til the end. The aisles were too easy to navigate when we left after the clock had run out.
If bigtime college football at Arizona means little noise from the band (would you have known where they were sitting if you'd closed your eyes?), a student section that goes back to the kegs at the half, and a louder visitors' section than home crowd, then we are really missing out folks.
Purdue next Saturday - let's give them a game and venue to remember.