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Weber State football: Mental says offense planting right pillars for success

By Brett Hein - Standard-Examiner | Aug 11, 2022

ISAAC FISHER, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Weber State receiver Colby Samuels hauls in a pass during the first practice of fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden. (ISAAC FISHER, Special to the Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN — The pillars of Weber State football’s offense, as Mickey Mental explains it, are buy-in, care of the football, efficiency and successful run plays.

Just more than a week into fall camp, WSU’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach says the Wildcats have set the right foundation for his system, which aims to be direct, decisive and fast to create balance and numbers advantages to exploit.

“The first thing is everybody being bought in as far as no matter who scores, who gets attention, at the end of the day are you doing your one-eleventh,” Mental said Wednesday. “They’ve really bought into that and that’s the first pillar of a good offense.

“What I’m most proud of,” he continued, “is we’ve only turned the ball over once in the last three days, and that’s the foundation of winning … we do those two things, and you’re efficient, and you’re running the football against our great defense — all the benchmarks are there, we’ve just got to keep perfecting it and holding it to our standard, never be satisfied.”

Mental’s task is to help deliver an offense that takes the pressure off WSU’s usually stout defense to win most games. WSU averaged less than 28 points per game in 2019 and the spring of 2021, then got to 31.3 points per contest in the fall of 2021 — only after scoring 62 on Southern Utah and getting three defensive touchdowns in a 48-17 win over Northern Colorado.

Prior to the final two weeks last season, WSU averaged 26 points per game and was held under 20 points four times. In Mental’s last two seasons as head coach and offensive coordinator at Division II Notre Dame College, his team scored 51 or more points in seven of 15 conference games.

At this point, his offense is installed and it’s time for quarterbacks to start separating themselves. All four top guys — Bronson Barron, Kylan Weisser, Creyton Cooper and Brian Harper — are taking care of the football and playing efficiently, Mental says.

“All of them are competing and taking care of the ball, so the foundation is set in the quarterback room,” Mental said. “So now it’s about the guy who puts the ball on his receivers and makes the right reads.”

The above list has been the general pecking so far in camp, though Barron began on top based on prior performance.

“Bronson graded out the highest in the spring, so he starts with the first reps in the fall. But we won’t decide anything now. We want guys to stay focused, locked in, perfecting their craft, and having pressure on them because that’s what a game is like,” Mental said about the depth chart. “Nobody in that room has even talked about it. That will take care of itself.”

Like most offenses, Mental wants his to be balanced. But his effort comes by focusing on making the defense choose what to stop and then doing the opposite well, not by simply trying to call an even number of run and pass plays.

“We’re set up for that with our offensive line, and tight ends that have improved a lot,” he said. And from someone he didn’t really get to see much in the spring.

“Josh Davis,” Mental smiled as he talked about the deep running backs group. “He’s as advertised. That guy is a really good football player.”

Mental singled out young receivers Jacob Sharp, Devin Ford and Colby Samuels as guys who noticeably improved from the spring, which he credits to player-run practices and the leadership of his quarterbacks, Sharp and veteran receiver Ty MacPherson.

The trajectory of the offensive unit is on track, by his assessment.

“We’re practicing at an efficient rate right now. There’s nuances and techniques we’ve got to perfect, and then repeating that is the hardest thing,” Mental said. “You make a great play, then make two, make three, be consistent when it comes to your craft and the plays.

“There’s always pieces to improve, but I like where we’re at right now. The guys have done a tremendous job.”

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