LAKE CHARLES, La. -- There's a storm coming.
Along with the flood warnings and heavy thunderstorms predicted this weekend, McNeese State's offense, ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring offense (51.7 points per game), has the potential to make it rain against Weber State's defense, which through three games is allowing an average of 60 points per game.
Against FBS schools Utah and Utah State, the Wildcats have given up 70 points in each of the past two weeks on the road; in a season-opening win against FCS Stephen F. Austin, WSU allowed 40 points in a shootout win.
After two brutal in-state losses, the 'Cats are happy to return to playing against someone at their own level. Now the question is how they've weathered the turbulence of a pair of demoralizing defeats and and how they'll weather No. 12 ranked McNeese State's attack.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Cowboy Stadium.
Weber State (1-2) will start true freshman quarterback Austin Chipoletti for the second consecutive week. Chipoletti played against USU as senior Jordan Adamczyk was held out with knee soreness.
"Right now we're gonna go with Chip and then Jordan's feeling a lot better, we'll get him in the mix as well," 'Cats coach Jody Sears said. "Jordan's feeling a ton better with a week on the shelf. The score doesn't show it but Chip did some good things in that Utah State game."
That said, Adamczyk is the starter when he's healthy, Sears said. "I don't want to throw Jordan right back to the wolves, because I want to make sure he's healthy and feeling good."
The Wildcats didn't score an offensive touchdown against Utah State but hope to return to the form that saw them put up 50 points in their first game.
"We don't have to do anything special, we're just going to go out and play how we know we can play," offensive tackle and team captain Shelton Robinson said.
McNeese State (3-0), of the Southland Conference, was one of a number of FCS schools to knock off an FBS foe, South Alabama, in Week 1, but had to get a last-minute score and career-highs in passing yards (366) and touchdowns (five) from quarterback Cody Stroud last week to defeat Division II school West Alabama.
"You can't look at that at all," Sears said. "South Florida, for whatever reason, it happened, and then you take West Alabama, they're one of the top Division II teams in the country. You can't read into any of that. I know McNeese State's got a really good quarterback. Their offensive line is very well coached and they've got two receivers and a returner that are going to be just as good as we've seen in the past three weeks."
The Cowboys easily defeated the Wildcats last year in Ogden, taking a 35-7 advantage before a pair of late scores made it a more respectable 35-21 final.
"McNeese is a good team and we know what we're going to get out of them. They're going to play hard. They're ranked No. 12 in the nation, so I think from a preparation standpoint, we're a lot better off than we were. We know what to expect, we know what kind of team they are, so I think we have a little better mindset going into the game this year than we did last year."
Sears remembers the game.
"We gave up two big plays and we didn't convert on offense," he said. "Defensively, we gave up two really big runs and offensively, we didn't convert on third down. It killed us."
That game is in the past, but it does give Weber State's coaching staff a baseline for building a game plan for McNeese State.
"It's going to be the team that shows up Saturday night and plays the best that's gonna win the football game," he said. "Not the most talented team; the team that plays the best."
The Cowboys' returning talent includes Stroud and receiver Diontae Spencer, who ranks seventh nationally in all purpose yards (180 ypg) and reeled off a 91-yard TD run at Stewart Stadium last year.
"As a team we still have all of our goals intact," Robinson said. "We can still go compete for the Big Sky. For the leadership team and coach Sears, we're just preaching the same message -- just stay the course, stay consistent, because all of our goals and everything we want to accomplish is still ahead of us."
WSU NOTES: Athletic director Jerry Bovee said earlier this week the Wildcats were hopeful of having a resolution by this weekend in the case of some of the eight players who have been suspended for academic reasons. ... This will be the fourth meeting between Weber State and McNeese State, with the Cowboys leading the series 2-1.