Football uses bye to heal, improve

(photo by Tyler Brown)
(Photo by Tyler Brown)
Weber State University quarterback Austin Chipoletti prepares for the snap in a game against Montana State University. Chipoletti looks to use the bye week to work on protecting the ball and to further his progression as a starter.

After a rough eight games to begin the season, the Weber State University football team had its bye week last week. The team looked to get players back from injury and to continue the positive trend it saw in its game against Montana State University.

“We’ve got a lot of bodies out there taking a lot of shots,” said head coach Jody Sears after the game against MSU. “We’ve got some guys that need a break, but not a full-fledged checkout. We are going to practice three or four times this week.”

The team looks to improve its 1-7 record in its final four games of the season. Senior linebacker Anthony Morales said multiple categories need improvement.

“Everything, obviously, all phases,” Morales said. “We need to do a better job on defense, offense and special teams. It’s pretty much everything. I can’t say we’re in a position to say we are good enough in any phase right now.”

A special emphasis was put on turnovers, after the Wildcats committed three turnovers that led to 20 points in their last game. The Wildcats lost the game by 18 points.

(Photo by Tyler Brown)
(Photo by Tyler Brown)
Weber State University quarterback Austin Chipoletti throws the ball to wide receiver Erik Walker in a game against Montana State University. The Wildcats wanted to use the bye week to improve their game.

“We fumbled the ball twice when we were driving the ball, plus my interception,” said quarterback Austin Chipoletti. “That’s unacceptable. They scored on all three of those. That’s the game right there, if we score or just don’t even turn the ball over. We can’t have that.”

The defense also emphasized the need to create turnovers of its own to help the offense. The defense has caused just 10 turnovers on the season.

“We are still a long ways from where we need to be,” Morales said. “I think I can speak for both sides of the ball: We need to protect the ball. But on defense, we need to get turnovers. We didn’t get any turnovers today. Turnover margin is the biggest stat in football. We didn’t win that.”

Sears said the bye week is also a time to assess the team and to go out and look at high school prospects for the next recruiting class.

“Our main priority is to get everyone healthy and get five or six coaches out and get some recruiting done,” Sears said. “It also allows the guys to stay back and do the local stuff. It will give us a little bit of time to do a self-scout and find out how we can get better and how we can build on our strengths.”

Coaches will also look at what is working and what isn’t. They will try to come up with plans to help the team improve its weaknesses and capitalize and build on its strengths.

“(We’re) taking an assessment of where we are at, who are we,” Sears said. “What are we doing that’s good? How can we build on that? Where’s our weaknesses? What kind of fat do we need to trim off the call sheet?”

(Source: Robert Casey)
(Source: Robert Casey)
Weber State University linebacker Anthony Morales makes a tackle in a game against Southern Utah University. Morales said the Wildcats need to improve in all facets of the game.

WSU has hit the apex of its season. With four games remaining, the team still has many opportunities to end the season on a high note. It will have a chance in the next week, facing Portland State University, which is also having a rough go this season in the Big Sky Conference.

With just four games left, the team feels the urgency and the need to finish the season on a positive.

“We saw a glimpse of what’s to come,” Sears said. “We need to keep pressing on.”