RC 083119 Weber State vs San Diego State 02

Weber State defenders Noah Vaea (13) and Preston Smith (7) celebrate a stop against San Diego State on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego.

The numbers paint the story for Weber State football’s offense from its loss at San Diego State: zero points, 1.8 yards per carry, 5.7 yards per pass completion.

For the second straight season, the Wildcats found themselves offensively challenged in the opener.

“That was a very good defense and I thought they played great,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said. “I don’t think we executed well enough at times. We had opportunities for big plays and didn’t hit them.”

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Big plays like a fourth-and-1 from the SDSU 43 where a trick play nearly had Weber in the end zone and with a lead. Or, like Rashid Shaheed’s second-quarter kick return for a touchdown that was nullified by penalty.

“Some of the biggest opportunities we missed were on the special teams game. Those things were uncharacteristic of us. We’ve got to take advantage of opportunities that are there and we didn’t do it,” Hill said.

But any time you still have 11 regular-season games ahead of you, there’s always plenty of hope, and chances to go along with it. The 2018 opener at Utah yielded only 59 total yards and that team went on to go 9-2 in the regular season.

“We’re pretty much past San Diego now,” junior running back Kevin Smith said. “We had some little mistakes to clean up on, like on special teams, and we had a whole bunch of penalties. I feel like this week we’ll have more preparation on the little things and on special teams.”

Smith played in his first game in nearly two calendar years Saturday in San Diego after a knee injury kept him out in 2018.

“As I got going, my adrenaline started to rush and I started to feel normal again. I started to look up in the sky and be thankful to be back, thank God to do what I love to do again,” Smith said.

He said the team was confident moving forward and it’s on each player to put in the work to bring improvement.

“We can’t control what happened already. So I’m just watching more film to see what I can do myself to help the team,” Smith said. “And look out for these younger guys. I noticed me talking to these guys and meeting with them in the morning has helped out a lot. That’s something I’ve never really done before but I’m noticing a big difference it has.”

When Weber State struggled offensively last season, it usually wasn’t breaking big plays and that theme held true for the 2019 opener. A 31-yard pass from Jake Constantine to Devon Cooley in the first quarter against SDSU was the game’s biggest play, yardage-wise, but it came with Weber deep in its own territory and only got the Wildcats just shy of midfield.

WSU now hosts Cal Poly in Saturday’s home opener. The Mustangs needed most of its offensive output — 52 points, 607 yards — to beat San Diego because Cal Poly gave up 535 yards and 34 points to the Toreros. If not for the three interceptions San Diego threw, the two teams might’ve staged an all-time offensive classic.

“We’ve got to get the run game going way better than we did the other day, and that will open up some throws,” Hill said. “We’ve got to get more chunk yardage plays — throws down the field, big runs that go for distance ... Whatever we’ve got to do, we’ve got to get some chunk plays and get the run game going.”

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3/@WeberHQ and at facebook.com/WeberStateSports.

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