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Turnovers take spotlight as Weber State football hosts Montana State

By Brett Hein - | Oct 13, 2021

Robert Casey, Weber State University

Weber State defensive back Preston Smith (32) begins his run for what would be an 86-yard touchdown after scooping up a fumble against Northern Arizona on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Weber State football returns to action after a week off — head coach Jay Hill says the bye “came at a great time” — and the No. 19 Wildcats (2-3, 1-1 Big Sky) now prep to host No. 9 Montana State (5-1, 3-0).

The Bobcats visit Ogden for the first time since 2018 and bring with them a plus-10 mark in the turnover margin, which is second-best in the country at the FCS level.

Weber State, meanwhile, is a far cry from where they have often stood in the turnover department.

“We’re talented enough, we’re good enough,” Hill said. “What cost us in the James Madison game and the UC Davis game was not that they were way more skilled or talented than we were, or way more physical, or any of that stuff. We had more yards than James Madison and UC Davis. What we have to do is take care of the ball better. That’s the bottom line. Those two games would have been way different had we won the turnover margin.”

WSU quarterbacks have thrown six interceptions and the Weber defense has caught three through five games; one of those three was an end-of-half heave to the end zone at Utah. WSU has also lost five fumbles to gaining four so, overall, the Wildcats are minus-4 in the turnover margin this season.

“Ball security is a team deal,” Hill said to prelude his list of examples. “It’s pass protection. It’s the running back running the check-down the right way. It’s the receivers running the route at the right depth. It’s everybody holding the ball the right way. We’ve got to do a little bit better job of all that.

“If you look at a lot of the turnovers we’ve had, a lot of young guys, a lot of backups. Those aren’t excuses, it’s just the reality of what’s going on. So we’ve got to get these young guys caught back up to be able to make sure they’re ready to roll on what the expectation is on taking care of the ball.”

Led by quarterback Matt McKay, Montana State has thrown just one interception and lost two fumbles in six games. Its defense has pulled down 11 interceptions and gained two fumbles.

“You wonder why they’re 5-1 … but their turnovers are coming, I promise,” Hill said.

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