2021 FCS Season Preview: Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

The Lumberjacks finished the season 3-2 and likely would have been 4-2 if Cal Poly was available to play. Despite a winning record for Spring, the wins were scrappy and against teams with plenty of fault lines. NAU beat a dysfunctional Southern Utah twice by a one-score margin and a heavily injured Idaho team by 10 points. The close loss to Weber State was impressive, but still, a worry persists if the “defensive genius” of Chris Ball can craft an offense to deal with the EWU’s of the conference. The Lumberjacks know how to defend the dome, but can they go on the offense successfully?

Schedule

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Walkup Skydome. Capacity 11,230. Photo via blogspot.com

Key Players

Keondre Wudtee – Quarterback – 6’4″ 210 lbs. – Grad Student

Wudtee is a Russell Wilson-like quarterback where he can hurt the opposing teams through the air or on the ground. Wudtee transferred to NAU for the 2019 season from Oklahoma State where his talents were definitely high caliber, but would not win him the job for the Cowboys. Big Sky defenses should be on their heels playing the Lumberjacks as Wudtee is unpredictable and athletically gifted.

Harrison Beemiller – Linebacker – 6’0″ 210 lbs. – Grad Student

Beemiller is a threat to any offensive playmaker that crosses his path. Harrison made both Phil Steele’s and the Big Sky’s all-conference list. Both Beemiller brothers are extremely useful multitalented players who have an instinct for finding success. Opposing teams should take notice when he plays zone in the middle of the field and any time he lines up on the edge to rush.

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Coach Chris Ball. Coaching Record 7-10 (All NAU). Photo via arizonastate.rivals.com

Predicted Finish

Eighth. NAU has impressive qualities and individual players, but the teamwork of all eleven players working at the same time remains to be a consistent part of the Ball era. Looking at the schedule, Sam Houston State and Arizona in the first two weeks will be a significant hill to climb. Despite the elevation of Flagstaff, AZ the Lumberjacks are in the clouds if they think those two games will result in wins. NAU also needs to be careful not to get too injured since the majority of their backup talent is quite young. An upside to the schedule is their tougher opponents come to them later in the season. Can the Walkup Skydome help NAU steal some games from Montana, UC Davis, or Idaho State?

Records
Best: 8-3
Worst: 4-7
Predicted: 5-6 (4-4)

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