The Arizona Wildcats roll out a new starting quarterback when they try to end a 14-game losing streak against visiting FCS opponent Northern Arizona on Saturday night in Tucson, Ariz.
First-year coach Jedd Fisch turned to Will Plummer in place of Gunner Cruz, a Washington State transfer who got the call for season-opening losses to BYU (24-16) and San Diego State (38-14).
Cruz has completed 44 of 64 passes for 406 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Fisch said film review after Saturday night’s game revealed too many missed opportunities, noting Cruz held the ball too long, which resulted in negative plays.
Plummer played one series in the first half against BYU and entered late in the third quarter for Cruz last weekend, when he went 8 of 17 for 109 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought he did a very nice job when he got in there, but he’s handled himself extremely well throughout the entire process here,” Fisch said.
Plummer played in three games last season as a true freshman, starting one as an injury replacement. Fisch added that South Florida transfer quarterback Jordan McCloud, who arrived on campus this summer, is expected to see more practice time this week, a potential precursor to some game action.
Arizona (0-2) is looking for any spark after failing to reach 20 points in five consecutive games.
NAU (0-2) is coming off a 34-7 loss at South Dakota after opening with a 42-16 setback to visiting Sam Houston State.
“I’ve got to do a better job of mentally preparing our guys,” coach Chris Ball said. “At the end of the day we’ve got to put together a game plan that we can execute and play fast in. Then we have to be able to handle the swings of a football game a lot better.”
The Lumberjacks were picked to finish seventh in the 13-team Big Sky in a preseason poll of league coaches.
Quarterback Jeff Widener leads the offense, completing 42 of 67 passes for 476 yards, but he has four interceptions to go with two touchdown passes. He’s the second-leading rusher (85 yards), trailing Kevin Daniels, who has 90 yards on 24 rushes. NAU is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry.
This is Arizona’s best opportunity of the season to end a losing streak that dates to the 2019 season. The Wildcats have beaten NAU in 14 consecutive meetings — all of which have been played in Tucson — and have scored more than 60 points in each of the past three matchups.
The last meeting was a 65-41 Arizona win on Sept. 7, 2019.