Guest Column: Wildcat football has a bright future

In the late 1970s and in the ’80s, the New Orleans Saints of the NFL were so abysmal the fans started wearing paper sacks over their heads so they would not be recognized as fans of the team.

As I look at the Weber State football team, I wonder if Weber State fans have wanted to do the same in response to the struggles the Wildcats have had lately.

It is no secret that the football program here at Weber State has struggled over the last few years. With blowout losses to teams like Utah State and the struggle to keep up with fifth-ranked Montana State, it is clear that something is not right with the football program.

When only looking at the scoreboard, it is understandable that many might think football is dead at Weber State. In my opinion, Wildcat football is alive and well. In fact, I daresay that, in just one or two short years, the scoreboard will be changed to the Wildcats being back on top.

In order for a team to be successful, they need to have three important factors: coaching, coaching schemes and players.

A coaching staff can either make or break a team. Time after time, football teams have struggled with losing seasons just to be turned around by great coaching. Take, for example, the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year, the Chiefs struggled to win games and ended up on the bottom of the NFL. They bring in Andy Reid, former Philadelphia Eagles coach, and suddenly they are one of the best teams in the league.

Weber State has been fortunate to pull in some great coaches in the last few years. Head coach Jody Sears leads the program in the right direction with his experience in coaching. Before coming to Weber State, he coached for Army, Eastern Washington and Washington State. That is a very impressive resume.

Along with Sears, the staff is filled with experienced coaches such as Steve Morton, Robin Pflugrad, Eric Lewis and many more. Like Sears, these coaches also have impressive resumes with coaching experience at schools such as Ball State, Oregon, University of Montana, USC and more. I think it is safe to say that Weber State football is in the hands of very experienced coaches and not just some Little League dad pulled off the streets.

Such a variety of coaching experience brings with it a valuable knowledge of football schemes and philosophy. Don’t worry, I will not go football nerd and talk about all the different football schemes for the entire article, but there are important factors to mention.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Wildcats are using the most popular scheme in football today. They have a solid foundation in the zone-read offense, which they rely on to open up their playbook. With the read option offense, they also play at an up-tempo speed. They call their plays at a rapid pace to try and catch the defense off guard.

It is clear when watching the Wildcat offense that there are University of Oregon influences throughout each play. In fact, the Oregon offense is the closest thing to the offense that Coach Plugrad has installed this year. This is not a bad thing, considering that Oregon is one of the most explosive offenses in the NCAA.

Though schemes and philosophy are important and can make the difference between winning and losing, it is important to have the players who can execute the plays.

On this year’s roster, the Wildcat football team is filled with great talent — players that many might not know such as Cody Raymond, Deon’tae Florence and Eddy Hall. These players, and many more on the roster, are legitimate Division I athletes who can play at the highest level.

The one glaring issue on the roster, however, is the youth and inexperience of the players. True freshman Austin Chipoletti leads the offense at quarterback. He hands the ball off to Bo Bolen, who is still a junior. Around them is a young offensive line with only one senior and a group of wide receivers who are still young as well.

Defensively, the Wildcats are equally young and inexperienced. Outside of Anthony Morales, who is a senior this year, the starters are a mix of juniors and sophomores.

So what does all of this mean for the Wildcats and the future of the football program?

Unfortunately, when looking at this year, it looks like there will be some hard times still ahead for the team. The mix of a new coaching staff and young players has caused them to not be very successful.

Though they have struggled, there have been flashes of greatness. The future looks bright for this team and the coaching staff. So, as frustrating as it is to watch the team struggle, I say to keep the paper sacks under the sink and come support the football team as they grow and improve this season.