ACU football opens up its home schedule with the nationally-ranked Northern Arizona Lumberjacks at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The ‘Cats hope to build upon their first game offensively led by Southland Conference offensive player of the week, quarterback Parker McKenzie.
McKenzie broke the ACU record for most passing yards in a first start with 403 yards. He spread the ball to nine different receivers last week.
“The receiving corp did a phenomenal job,” McKenzie said. “We have been training for this, everybody’s been wondering what the receivers were going to be like and they really stepped up, I’m proud of them.”
The running game, however, couldn’t find its stride with starting running back Herschel Sims, who carried the ball 14 times for 37 yards, and the offense as a whole carried the ball 36 times for only 95 yards.
Head coach Ken Collums thought the offense could’ve done a better job of getting the running game going.
“We didn’t get Herschel and De’Andre plugged into the game enough,” Collums said. “You have to get them the ball, you can’t just let them take away some of your best weapons.”
McKenzie entered the game as a question mark but left as a record breaker. Coach Collums thought that McKenzie had a solid game but did make some dangerous throws and errors that could’ve cost them.
“Offensively we played well,” Collums said. “Parker was a little careless at times with the ball, but it only cost him once.”
ACU’s defense looks to rebound as they won the turnover battle 3-to-1 but were gashed for 567 yards. They will have to do that without senior and three-year starter safety Angel Lopez. Lopez suffered a concussion last week after he tackled a Georgia State receiver head on.
“Angel won’t play this week, that’s part of the protocol,” Collums said.
The defense will be led by senior defensive end Nick Richardson, who moved up the all-time sack leader board with two sacks last week. Richardson’s 25.5 sacks put him at nine away from the ACU sack record. The defense will need to stop runs if it hopes to win Saturday.
“Defensively we have to stop the run,” Collums said. “These guys are a little bit different from Georgia State; they are not quite as up tempo. They rely a little bit more execution and more pro style, which we match up pretty good against that.”
Northern Arizona enters this matchup as a highly touted program from the prestigious Big Sky Conference. The conference has four of its 13 schools inside the top 25 including no. 25 Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks had a 9-3 record last year while making the Div. I FCS playoffs.
“For the most part we have to give them some issues in what they do well is running the ball,” Collums said. “If we can’t stop the run it will be a long afternoon.”