WSU football set to face Utes

football (Tyler Brown)-2099
(Photo by Tyler Brown)
Wide receiver Kela Marciel returns a punt against Stephen F. Austin State University. The Wildcats will take on the University of Utah on Saturday.

The Weber State University football team will travel to Salt Lake City on Saturday to take on the University of Utah. The game will be held at noon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

WSU is coming off a win against Stephen F. Austin State University, its first home victory under second-year head coach Jody Sears. The Wildcat offense put up 50 points in the game, its highest regulation total since the 2008 season, when it scored 59 points against Idaho State University.

The Utes are also coming off of a win this past week. They beat Utah State University by a score of 30-26. They totaled 450 yards of offense against the Aggies, including 302 passing yards and two touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson.

The game will be one of two consecutive matchups against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent for the Wildcats, with a game against USU next Saturday.

“We just try to take it one game at a time,” said running back Bo Bolen after the game against SFASU. “You can look at our schedule, look ahead a couple games and say it’s going to be a pretty tough first four games, pretty tough schedule, period. We are not worrying about that. We were worrying about Stephen F. Austin tonight, and tomorrow we are going to start worrying about Utah.”

(Source: Robert Casey) WSU linebacker Anthony Morales celebrates after a defensive stop against SFASU. Morales and team face a tough challenge at the University of Utah.
(Source: Robert Casey)
Weber State University linebacker Anthony Morales celebrates after a defensive stop against Stephen F. Austin State University. Morales and the team will face a challenge at the University of Utah.

The Utes finished with a record of 5-7 last season in their second season as part of the Pacific 12 Conference. The Utes’ coach is Kyle Wittingham, who has an overall record of 71-32 as a head coach, all at the U of U. The Utes own the overall series record against WSU, beating the Wildcats in all three meetings, the last one a 37-21 win in 2008.

The Utes have never played an away game against WSU. They also hold a record of 35-0 against current members of the Big Sky Conference.

“We’re going to be the underdog, maybe throughout the entire season,” said offensive coordinator Robin Pflugrad. “I think we have to take that mentality. Whether it’s Utah or Utah State or Stephen F. Austin, we have to continue to do what we do well.”

The Wildcats went through noise drills this week in practice. Their goal is to make calls in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage easier to hear.

“Crowd noise is going to be a factor, which will be awesome for us,” Sears said. “It will be an awesome environment. We’ll probably have to make sure to simplify the game plan so the guys know what they are doing — not try to get too fancy. It’s about executing our fundamentals and executing our technique, controlling the things we can control: running, catching, blocking, tackling, the pure fundamentals.”

The Utes will most likely be the toughest matchup WSU will face all season. It will make pulling out a win that much harder.

“We know that Utah has probably the best speed that we will see all year,” Pflugrad said. “Those holes are going to close in a hurry. If we are open, we have to get the ball to that spot in a hurry, because that open area is going to close probably much faster than we are used to, even in practice.”

However, Sears said his faith in his team is not shaken. He pointed to Eastern Washington University’s last-minute win against 25th-ranked Oregon State University as proof of how tough the Big Sky Conference can be. He said he doesn’t want to be counted out just yet.

“There’s a lot of FCS schools. I think there were seven or eight of them that won last week,” Sears said. “The Big Sky has always been real strong. I don’t know if there is one thing that you can attribute it to other than that I know that this conference has tremendous coaches and good talent. It says that the Big Sky is no slouch and that you better make sure you come ready every weekend.”