By Mick Holien
So just how does a football program react when their 21-year head coach is given his walking papers after consecutive losses at the start of the campaign.
Especially when one of the non-conference matchups is Northern Arizona’s traditional butt whipping down the hill at the hands of FBS Arizona.
Now granted this annual “money game,” a 62-24 whipping, was followed by an 18 point home loss to Western Illinois and thus came the announcement that the popular Jerome Souers, admittedly my good friend since he came to Missoula on Don Read’s staff, would not be retained after the 2017 campaign.
But undismayed the Lumberjacks went to San Luis Obispo and using a bye week to lick their wounds dropped Cal Poly before dominating Northern Colorado 48-20 followed by a just as domineering Hall of Fame game three touchdown, 37-16 whitewashing of Illinois State before doing likewise to the tune of 42-20 in Oregon’s Rose City to win for the fourth consecutive week.
NAU hosts UC Davis, a team they have defeated three of the last four meetings, before returning to Flag for Homecoming against the Hornets of Sacramento State when they will look for a five-game win streak for the first time since 2013.
The Lumberjacks then face Montana in Missoula Nov, 4 before facing the Bobcats at the Skydome, then finishing up at Southern Utah.
True Northern Arizona may not win the Big Sky Conference but baring a complete collapse they may well be headed for the playoffs for the first time since ’13.
Sophomore quarterback Case Cookus is quoted as saying they want to send Souers out with a terrific season and the current record makes one wonder if bosses, though you know they won’t, reconsider and keep the Big Sky Conference’s most prolific winner at the helm for a 22nd season.
Cookus has assumed his share of productivity by going mistake care in the win streak and connecting for 14 touchdowns while attempting 195 passes without a pick.
Wide out Elijah Marks leads FCS in total yards per game receiving while former Griz Andy Thompson has cracked the defensive ice as well holding the last four to less than 3 TDs a game.
Jerome is no spring chicken but I guarantee if he so desires with his personality he will land another gig and count on this – Souers teams always play hard and are competitive.