Photo by Whitney Young
Mike Hoke evades a tackle in the game against California Polytechnic State University last week. The team will now head to California to face California State University, Sacramento.

The Weber State University football team will head back on the road this weekend, traveling to California State University, Sacramento, still in search of its first win of the year.

Head Coach Jody Sears said that, while the Wildcats are still searching for their first win of the year, he has seen a lot of good things in his team.

“There are a lot of positive things that are happening for us,” Sears said. “We have great veteran leadership. We are becoming more mentally tough, and we are moving forward and trying to improve on our weaknesses.”

The Wildcats have lost their first six games of the year. Last week, they lost to California Polytechnic State University, 45-23. The CSUS Hornets have a 4-2 record this season and are coming off a 27-22 victory over Southern Utah University last weekend.

CSUS ranks third in the Big Sky Conference in rushing defense, allowing 113.2 yards per game. It is seventh overall in scoring defense, allowing 30.3 points per game, and ranks second in the conference in sacks with 16 so far this season. Offensively, the Hornets are fourth in rushing offense at 194.8 yards per game, and rank seventh in the conference in total offense at 432.8.

The Hornets also have a strong rushing attack. Junior running back Ezekiel Graham is ranked third in the conference in rushing. He is averaging 9.5 yards per game. Against SUU, Graham was the team’s second-leading rusher with 50 yards on the ground. CSUS was led in rushing by quarterback Garrett Safron, who rushed for 109 yards.

Sears said the Hornets’ offensive unit will challenge the Wildcats, and that he is expecting a tough game on Saturday.

“We face another really good team this week at Sacramento State,” Sears said. “They have a very balanced offense and apply great pressure on defense.”

In last week’s game, quarterback Mike Hoke had one of his best performances of the year. He threw for a season-high 291 yards and finished the game completing 22 of 39 passes, with an interception and a touchdown on the day. He also racked up 51 rushing yards in the loss. On the season, Hoke has passed for more than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.

WSU will be going into the game without one of its biggest stars of the season, Tony Epperson. Epperson left last Saturday’s game with a torn MCL in his right knee.

Last week, following the loss, WSU’s C.J. Tuckett said the team has to try and stay positive despite the poor start to the season.

“Football is a game of momentum,” Tuckett said. “You’ve got to try and stay up when things are down.”

In the game against Cal Poly, Tuckett became the 27th Wildcat to rush for more than 1,000 yards. He ran for 98 yards and one touchdown. He also had seven catches for 53 yards.

In the overall series history, WSU has held the upper hand, winning 11 games while losing five against CSUS. The last time the teams met, the Wildcats took a 49-17. WSU never trailed in the game, and finished the game with 522 total yards of offense.

The Wildcats are the only team in the Big Sky Conference without a win this season. The Hornets are ranked fifth in the conference, with a Big Sky record of 2-1. WSU is in last place in the conference standings. It is one of three teams in the conference without a conference win.

Following the game against CSUS, the Wildcats will stay on the road but return to Utah, where they’ll face off against in-state rival SUU. Following that game, WSU will have a bye week before returning home to take on the University of Montana.

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