The Weber State University football team will wrap up a two-game road stint this Saturday as it travels to San Luis Obispo to face the California Polytechnic State University Mustangs. The Mustangs are ranked just outside the top 25 teams in the nation.
The Wildcats are coming off of a loss to Eastern Washington University, 41-19. WSU showed improvements, scoring multiple touchdowns for the first time since its season-opener against Stephen F. Austin State University. The loss was the fifth in a row for the Wildcats, dropping their total to 1-5, 0-2 in the Big Sky Conference.
Cal Poly (2-3) is also coming off of a loss, a 24-10 loss to Yale University. The Mustangs came to Ogden last season, defeating WSU 45-23. The Wildcats started strong in the game, holding a 20-14 lead in the third quarter. But the Mustangs changed gears and rattled off 24 unanswered points, ultimately putting the game out of reach.
“They are obviously a playoff contender,” said WSU head coach Jody Sears. “They run the triple option very well. We had a really tight ball game with them last year. But, obviously, last year is last year. It doesn’t have any effect on this year. They are very well coached. They play extremely hard. They are very much like Eastern Washington.”
The Mustangs are eighth in the nation in rushing yards, averaging more than 267 yards a game. The Wildcats struggled in the run against EWU, surrendering 279 rushing yards to the Eagles.
“It’s important, any time you face an option team, just to be very disciplined in your execution and your fundamentals,” said WSU defensive coordinator Eric Lewis. “That’s the biggest thing. Guys have to run hard and play hard and get to the ball. It’s more of a team defensive thing this week than any other week.”
Sears was quick to point out that the Mustangs are not a team that doesn’t throw the ball. The statistics have changed in the previous year.
“They are throwing the ball about 10 more times per game than they have in the past,” Sears said. “They usually only pass 5-8 times a game, and now they are up to around 20 or so. It’s just like any other week. We have to do a good job preparing. ”
Freshman quarterback Austin Chipoletti, who played his first full game for the Wildcats, looks to build on the success the offense had against EWU, as well as the failures.
“We could have honestly scored a few more times,” said Chipoletti of the team’s performance on Saturday. “We just have to work on finishing, finishing those drives. I threw a pick at the 40. I can’t have that. We had a few missed assignments, I missed a few reads. You always have to have 11 players doing their job to score touchdowns.”
The Wildcats will most likely again be without senior linebacker Anthony Morales, who will be a game-time decision against the Mustangs. The Wildcats will also be without linebacker Luke King, who has been picking up the slack in Morales’ absence.
“We have some inexperienced guys at linebacker and they have to step up,” Lewis said. “Someone has to step up.”
Sears said he is confident that all of the adversity the team has faced this season will eventually work in its favor.
“There were a lot of positives,” Sears said. “As a teacher, you have to build on that. There are winners and there are losers. However, from a teaching standpoint, you have to take the piece, the part and then the whole. There’s a lot of teaching, a lot of good stuff to grow from and learn from.”
The game will begin at 7 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time. The game will be broadcast on AM 1430 and can be watched online at www.bigskytv.org. Full game coverage will be available in the Monday issue of The Signpost, as well as on www.wsusignpost.com.