In the first afternoon home game of the season for the Weber State University football team, the Wildcats will host the Bobcats of Montana State University. The game will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Stewart Stadium.
The Bobcats are currently ranked fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision. MSU is coming off of a big win against Northern Arizona University, 36-7. NAU was previously ranked No. 15 in the FCS.
“They play very physical and they can dominate you on the line of scrimmage,” said offensive coordinator Robin Pflugrad. “That’s been their success. You add that defensive seven and the outstanding quarterback the last four years, (and) that’s what has brought them championships.”
On the contrary, WSU is coming off of its first shutout loss since the last game of the 2009 season, when the Wildcats lost to the College of William and Mary 38-0 in the FCS playoffs. Their last shutout loss in the regular season came against California Polytechnic State University in 2006. The Wildcats fell to Cal Poly on Saturday night, 47-0.
“They were pretty angry about the outcome of Saturday for several different reasons,” said head coach Jody Sears about his players, “mostly because of the plays that we left out there. There were a couple of opportunities. (But) morale is good. They have a good look in their eye.”
The Wildcats had few answers to the Mustangs’ running game, giving up more than 350 yards on the ground. WSU quarterback Austin Chipoletti turned in one of his best performances of the season, at least statistically, finishing 16-23 for 115 yards.
The offense was unable to move the ball effectively, however. WSU racked up just 53 yards rushing and only three drives of more than six plays. The offense has scored just 41 points in the current six-game losing streak. With the struggles, the offense doesn’t look to change too much of what it is doing.
“I think the adjustments come with studying what the defense gives and doesn’t give you,” Pflugrad said. “We are not totally going to change our offense. We still have guys growing and learning it. I think there are obviously growing pains. You gotta grow through them.”
The Wildcats’ only win of the season came against Stephen F. Austin State University. The Bobcats have lost just two games on the season, one against SFASU.
The Wildcats lost to MSU last season by a score of 44-24. WSU has not beaten MSU since 2008.
The Bobcats have averaged just more than 39 points a game this season, while holding opponents to a little more than 22. The Wildcats are averaging just 13 points a game, while giving up nearly 49 a game.
“Guys are still hungry to compete,” Pflugrad said. “They understand, probably with our youth, everyone has to be not quite perfect, but pretty close to excellent — all 11 guys, because it’s been nine and a half guys have it right, then eight, then 10. We got to get 11 guys getting it right, and that’s a challenge with so much youth.”
The Bobcats will be another test for the running defense of the Wildcats, who were without two of their best linebackers last week. Linebacker Anthony Morales, who leads WSU in tackles, is questionable for the game, and linebacker Luke King is ruled out.
“Anthony is coming along,” Sears said. “Anthony practiced a little bit today. Luke is going to be out for a little while longer. Anthony we are holding out; we will know a little more Thursday or Friday. But we are hopeful he can play this week.”
The Bobcats have been a relatively balanced offense in the first six games of their season. They have averaged just less than 243 yards passing per game and 211 yards rushing. The Wildcats are averaging just 110 yards passing and 145 yards rushing.
“They are big up front and they have two really good backs,” Sears said. “They like to run with power and run downhill at you. Their play-action game is really good. They have two really good receivers. Their quarterback is a two-time MVP, who’s a lot like the kid at Eastern. We are going to have our hands full.”