Weber State football: Kylan Weisser makes his case at quarterback
OGDEN — But for occasional use, sophomore quarterback Kylan Weisser, in his fourth season at Weber State, got his first big turn Saturday in WSU’s 37-24 loss to James Madison.
Junior signal-caller Randall Johnson has been second on WSU’s depth chart since the start of the spring season and has started twice in the absence of freshman Bronson Barron due to injury.
Johnson’s attempt to hand off to Kris Jackson despite falling down after having his foot stepped on near the goal line was a near-fatal blow to WSU in the first half Saturday. It was Johnson’s second fumble inside the red zone in his limited snaps for the Wildcats, the first coming in the spring opener at Idaho State.
Johnson threw an interception at the JMU 3 late in the half as WSU tried to get off the mat and answer the big fumble return from the bad handoff that put the Wildcats down 17-3. That was Johnson’s second interception thrown inside the opponents’ 5, with the first coming in the spring against Northern Arizona.
When asked about changing from Johnson to Weisser at halftime Saturday, WSU head coach Jay Hill’s first answer: “turnovers.”
Hill continued: “Just needing the spark. I didn’t think we were seeing some of the stuff that was there early.”
Weisser seemed to immediately have a positive effect on the offense. Despite his team being down 24-3 to James Madison by the time he got the call, the offense found consistency under Weisser’s command. Hill noted after the snaps he took in a 41-3 win over Dixie State in Week 2 that he liked how Weisser took control of the huddle and led the unit when he entered that game.
The sophomore led WSU to a touchdown drive in his first appearance Saturday. That command and confidence was on full display on a third-and-14 throw to Rashid Shaheed, which saw Weisser fire a bullet into what looked like double coverage. But it was right where Shaheed ended up as he came out of his break on a post route, and Shaheed made the snag at the JMU 2 to set up a touchdown.
For the game, Johnson finished 6 of 13 for 69 yards and the interception. Weisser was 13 of 22 for 164 yards and a touchdown. Johnson took one sack and netted 13 yards on 12 carries. Weisser totaled 8 net yards on three carries.
Hill said he’d have to look at the game film to ultimately learn more about how the two quarterbacks performed.
“I thought we had guys running open and we’ve got to hit them better,” Hill said, then continued with other areas of concern: “We’ve got to do a better job of pass protection. We’ve got too much pressure on the quarterback, not enough creases in the run game. There’s a lot we can clean up.”
Defensive end George Tarlas saw Weisser’s performance Saturday as a bright spot.
“He always is in the meeting room, 6 in the morning, putting in the work. He’s trying to find his opportunity to get in,” Tarlas said. “Him doing that (Saturday), I was proud of him.
“He did some really good things and had the confidence and everything to make the plays. I think he’s going to be a really good add-on for the offense. That’s good for the coaches to see that, too.”
Freshman Bronson Barron has appeared to give WSU the best chance to win on most nights, but he’s sidelined with a knee injury that may hold him out a few more weeks.
From first glance Saturday, Weisser has earned more playing time. If Barron is still out when No. 14 UC Davis comes to town Sept. 25, the tape seems likely to reveal a need to give Weisser his first career start and see where that takes the offense.