Game Preview: SUU @ Northern Arizona

Flagstaff, Ariz. — After three straight losses to start the season, the Southern Utah football team head to Flagstaff to take on Northern Arizona to kick off Big Sky play.

This will be the third straight road contest for the T-Birds and will also play for the Hinton Burdick Grand Canyon trophy. SUU looks to shake the first three losses of the season and begin conference play on the right foot.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Helbig has been the bright spot of the team thus far. Helbig has thrown for 926 yards and five touchdowns so far this season. Junior running backs James Felila and Jay Green Jr. lead the team with 182 and 173 yards respectively.

Ty Rutledge has caught 13 balls for 214 yards and a TD so far this year. Frank Harris III leads the team with two receiving touchdowns. The offensive line has been strong and Helbig has played well because of the time he’s had in the pocket.

The defense has struggled so far this year. The team has given up 144 points through three games this year. Now, they’ve played against two Pac-12 teams, but the defense needs to elevate their play and give the offense a chance to take control of the game.

The T-birds have played against three very talented teams in the preseason and are in for another tough game against the very talented Lumberjacks. NAU finished last season 7-5 (6-2) and competed in the FCS playoffs.

Lumberjack wide receiver Emmanuel Butler is one touchdown catch away from breaking the program record of 28. Junior QB Case Cookus was the 2015 STATS Freshman of the Year and is closing in on 8,000 yards for his career. Cornerbacks Jalen Russell and Taelin Webb will be tested in this game.

NAU is 1-2 so far this year. They beat UTEP to start the year but have lost their last two games against Eastern Washington and Missouri State. UTEP is an FBS team and NAU went and beat them on El Paso. This is a good team, and the T-Birds will need to play their best game to win in Flagstaff.

SUU has won the last four matchups in a row and last year beat the Lumberjacks to take home a share of the Big Sky title. The defense held the Lumberjacks to 20 points last year, and they’ll need a similar result if they want to keep the winning streak alive.

The game will be broadcast Saturday, Sept. 22 at 5 pm on channel 239.

Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: Easton Bowring