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Coming off of its bye week, the Weber State University football team will travel to Oregon to take on Portland State University on Saturday afternoon. The Vikings are coming off of their first conference win of the season, while the Wildcats look to win their first Big Sky Conference game.
“They do a lot of things that can create some problems for us,” said WSU head coach Jody Sears of PSU. “Our success will be dictated on how well we can execute, playing hard and playing united. We are going to have our hands full.”
PSU got its first conference win Saturday, a 14-10 win over the University of North Dakota, bringing its record to 4-4, 1-3 in the Big Sky. The Vikings trailed 10-0 going into the fourth quarter of the game, but had two game-changing special team plays. The Vikings blocked a UND punt, which put them in prime position to score. The other play also came on a punt as the UND punter was forced to scramble and lost the ball on downs.
“For us, you have to win some games that are muddy when things aren’t clicking and things aren’t going well,” said PSU head coach Nigel Burton during a conference call. “If you can win those games, it really does good things to your team’s confidence and ability to work themselves through a tough, tight game and pull it out.”
The Wildcats are coming off of a closely fought game against Montana State University, falling 34-16 after three strong quarters. The game was the best game statistically WSU has had since its opening game of the season. Quarterback Austin Chipoletti threw for more than 300 yards and got some help from his offensive line and the running game.
Burton mentioned the success Chipoletti had against MSU and his improvement since taking over the starting job earlier in the season.
“I thought he did some great things against Montana State,” Burton said. “You can tell, going from one from one week to another, (that he’s improved). They have so many different packages. For an average guy, I think it would be very difficult, but obviously he’s been able to grasp it all and excel.”
Burton added that he looks for a tough game against the Wildcats. He said the team is better than its 1-7 record suggests.
“Obviously, Weber is playing very well,” he said. “When you watch them on film, their record is not even close to indicative of the talent they have and the plays they are making. I’m hoping we will be able to put ourselves in a position to win.”
One of the things WSU hopes to work on is causing and preventing turnovers. Chipoletti emphasized the importance of protecting the football and the need to continue to work on it during the bye week.
“Turnover margin is the biggest stat in the game,” he said. “We need to protect the ball. We’ve got to work on that.”
Sears expressed confidence that the team can continue its progress from the previous week and build on it.
“I’ve been really pleased with Chip — and the whole team, for that matter — during the last couple weeks of practice,” Sears said. “That’s been one of our demons. We practice good. The kids come out with good energy. Their execution has been great. It was good to see some carryover to how they have been practicing. There has been nothing different from last week to this week.”
WSU has won its last five games against PSU, the last one coming on a 48-33 win during the 2011 season. The overall series is tied at 8-8.
The game will begin at 2 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time and will be broadcast on 1430 AM. It can also be seen online at http://www.americaonesports.com/bigsky.asp.