Intense play defines NAU's first scrimmage

BY foxsports • August 20, 2016

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- The clock is ticking away as two weeks from today the Northern Arizona football team will go up against Pac-12 opponent Arizona State on Sept. 3 in Tempe. The Lumberjacks held their first scrimmage of fall camp Saturday afternoon in the Walkup Skydome.

One thing that offensive coordinator Tim Plough took away from today's scrimmage was that "the defense is really good."

Talking to Plough after the scrimmage, he commented that, "they're talented and fun to watch, but it's one of those give and takes. I like when they make plays because I know they're going to have a good year."

The defense was on point today, but that didn't stop the offense from putting up 20 points on the board; all 20 were hard fought. The Lumberjack defense from the start was letting it be known that they came to play. A five-yard sack from senior defensive lineman Lorenzo Melvin set the tone for the scrimmage. The message was clear: If you want to get up the field you will have to fight for every yard, because the defense was not going to make it easy today.

"We wanted to start fast and finish strong today," defensive coordinator Andy Thompson said. "Any time you have guys that make plays consistently, everyone feeds off that energy."

If there was anything that fans in attendance took out of today's scrimmage, it was that NAU has options when it comes to its kicking game, and the loss of key contributors to the Lumberjack secondary from a year ago has only motivated players currently sitting in that role.

"The secondary is improving a lot every day," Thompson added. "We have a lot of older guys back on the line and when they rush the ball comes out quicker, so it's a combination of things. I think the guys had a great summer and they're reaping the rewards of a lot of hard work."

Reaping the rewards is just what the secondary did. Sophomore cornerback Cole Sterns picked off the first ball of the day, while sophomore Kam'ron Johnson added one to his fall camp reel snatching the ball with no one in sight.

When it came to kicking duties, freshman Griffin Roehler connected on a field goal from 22 yards out, and then from 17 yards away to give the offense its first set of points on the day. Later, Roehler completed a PAT after quarterback Hunter Correll rushed for the 2-yard score.

NAU's run game was on par for every back that touched the ball. Reaching the end zone was freshman Nate Stinson, who tucked the ball in for a 3-yard score with time winding down. It was followed up with a made PAT from freshman Luis Aguilar.

"I like how physically we attacked the line of scrimmage at the end with the run game," Plough said. "I'm really excited about our skillset at wide receiver and running back. As long as we do our job, the season is going to be exciting for the Jacks."

If the biggest improvement the offense wanted to take away from fall camp was depth, well mission accomplished. From the wide outs to the backs to the offensive line, there are plenty of players battling for a starting spot with time winding down until the first kickoff of the season.