Weber State football to ‘stay the course’ after disappointing home losses
OGDEN — Weber State football isn’t used to losing at home, so the last three home games have been different.
WSU lost to Southern Illinois in the spring playoffs, then James Madison and UC Davis to open this season’s home schedule.
Head coach Jay Hill knows all of them were ranked teams, the Wildcats are playing backup quarterbacks, and big turnovers have been too costly for his team. No drastic changes are coming, he says, as WSU prepares for Saturday road game at Cal Poly.
“Right now, we’ve got to stay the course. We can’t freak out,” Hill said. “We lost the turnover margin by two against James Madison and we lost the turnover margin by three against UC Davis. If we win the turnover margin those two games, we’re sitting here 3-1 and everybody’s praising us, we’re a top two or three team in the country.
“The reality is, that’s not it. I don’t think it has as much to do with finishing as take care of the football with these quarterbacks who are now playing … we’ve just got to do a better job taking care of the ball. I promise you, we’re singing a completely different tune just by that one thing alone.”
Both Hill and cornerback Eddie Heckard spoke to media Tuesday and mentioned the need to find ways to make plays: make an extra block downfield, know the scouting report enough to see which guys give defenders the best takeaway opportunities, go get the football.
“If that’s the offense, we’ve got a chance to convert on third down, if we convert in that game (UC Davis) on third down, the game was over. If we just make a tackle — we had an open-field tackle on third-and-12, and we’ve got a chance to make it fourth-and-12. Instead we miss the tackle and it’s fourth-and-5, and they complete a hitch and go down and score a touchdown. Just find a way to make a play.
“We’re not far off, it’s not ‘we’re going to reinvent the wheel.’ We’ve won four straight conference championships, we know how to win games, we’ve just got to do it.”
‘CATS STAY RANKED
It seems because of track record and quality of opponents, voters have given these current Wildcats (1-3) the benefit of the doubt. WSU came in ranked No. 19 in this week’s STATS FCS Top 25.
Weber State has now been ranked for 50 consecutive weeks in that poll, dating back to Oct. 30, 2017, after trouncing No. 24 Montana and moving to 6-2 in that season.
After a trip to Cal Poly (1-3) this week, the Wildcats have a bye, then return home for a fourth consecutive home game against a ranked opponent, No. 11 Montana State (currently 3-1), for a Friday night ESPNU showdown on Oct. 15.
HARRIS, ALLEN LEAVE
Sophomore safety Ja’Kobe Harris has started nearly every game at WSU since his first season in 2019. He had the game-sealing blocked punt and touchdown recovery against Montana in the 2019 quarterfinals. Harris had five career interceptions in 19 games, including two this season.
So it was more than conspicuous when Harris did not start at free safety in Saturday’s loss to UC Davis. Senior safety Braxton Gunther got the call instead because Harris has left the team.
“Ja’Kobe’s decided the situation here was not what he wanted to do, so we mutually agreed to part ways,” Hill offered Tuesday.
Gunther is listed as the starter at free safety on this week’s depth chart, with freshman Abraham Williams as backup.
Tennessee transfer tight end Jordan Allen has also left the team, a promising big-impact talent who leaves Weber without ever seeing the field due to injury. He joined WSU ahead of the spring 2021 season, which he was required to sit out, before a hip injury flared up in fall camp and didn’t resolve itself.
Hill said this would have been Allen’s final season of college football, having already graduated, so he decided to move on.