FOOTBALL: Grading the Idaho State Game
Following Weber State’s 49-21 drubbing of Idaho State on Saturday, we asked several members of the Weber State Weekly crew to give us their grades for the Wildcat offense, defense and special teams.
AC: I’m giving the offense an A. They weren’t picture-perfect, but had the fanbase been told before the game that the offense would put up over 600 yards of offense, score 49 points and the QB would be named Big Sky player of the week, I think everyone would have been thrilled. I don’t know how much more you can ask of them.
Joe: A. Considering quarterback Bronson Barron went over 1,200 days before playing in a competitive game, his effort was something special. Even in the scoreless first quarter, he showed an ability to throw the ball downfield, then he hit another level in the second and third. The chemistry between Barron and wide receivers such as Rashid Shaheed and David Ames could be something very special this spring. Also, Josh Davis scoring a pair of touchdowns in Pocatello? Brings back some good memories for Wildcat fans.
Colby: I’m giving offense a B+. It was obvious that there was a little bit of rust, coupled with a new system on which to execute. But, after the first quarter, they really got going, totaling more than 600 yards of offense. I was unsure of how Bronson Barron was going to handle the starting job, but OC Matt Hammer and HC Jay Hill knew what they were doing. The Wildcats let up a bit in the fourth quarter, scoring only seven points, but I think that changes as the season progresses. In order for Weber to maintain their high ranking throughout the Spring season with a very soft schedule, they’ll need to consistently put up a high number of points.
Sean: B+. The biggest question for me on offense going into the season was QB play. While I am still admittedly skeptical that a freshman can lead a team to a national title, I was very impressed with Bronson’s play in his first outing. If his level of play keeps up and improves as the season moves along and he gains experience, I think this could be a special season. My biggest fear going into Saturday was that the coaches would rotate QBs, as we’ve seen in the past. Credit to the coaches for sticking with their guy and proving doubters like me wrong. By my count, the offense had eight of the 14 total penalties called against the Wildcats, five of which were formation or delay penalties, which can be corrected for future games. I also downgraded them for only scoring on three out of five red zone opportunities. In the playoffs, WSU cannot be leaving points off the scoreboard.
AC: A-. As Mitch Tulane told us in the postgame show, they surpassed Jay Hill’s ”Rule of Six” (get a combined total of six sacks/turnovers to put yourself in position to win the game), had tons of pressure on the QB and caused multiple turnovers, but I’d like to see them give up less big plays (they gave up over 300 passing yards) and a have stronger finish in the fourth quarter.
Joe: A-. It was nice to see the ‘Cats bring the pressure from the get-go, with the sack by George Tarlas on the opening possession, then interceptions from Conner Mortensen and Logan Lutui later in the first half. Bengals starting quarterback Tyler Vander Waal did finish with over 300 yards passing, but a large slice of this production came on chunk plays in garbage time. Anyone who has watched football in the last few years will understand that is just part of the game, with the way offense is up at all levels across the country.
Colby: B+ for the defense. In the first half, they were working out the rust and trying to get back into a rhythm, but they got key takeaways to keep the Bengals scoreless at the half. In the second half, the Wildcats gave up three touchdowns, allowing Idaho State to save some face in the contest. Things would have been a lot different if the Wildcats had allowed just two touchdowns or less. Vander Waal was sacked five times, but still achieved over 300 yards passing. The secondary also committed a number of P.I. penalties that will need to be cleaned up, as well. A lot to like, but more to do.
Sean: B. I’ll give the D credit for the first half shutout, and for several drive-killing plays. But the three second half TDs, especially two in the garbage time fourth quarter, made the game seem closer than it really was. Allowing 300-plus passing yards to a team that was picked by both coaches and the media to finish in the bottom third of the conference standings is a concern to me.
AC: C. I just wasn’t super impressed with anything the special teams did in this one. There was a missed field goal, as well as a muffed punt, which kind of put a downer on things for me. This is a good group, and I have no doubt they’ll turn it around.
Joe: C. I agree with AC, in the sense that things were a bit sloppy for the special teams unit. It was something that could be overlooked against the Bengals, but a contest against a more quality opponent may very well come down to executing a field goal or a kickoff return. Jay Hill’s teams have historically delivered clutch special teams plays, especially in big games, so I am sure this is something the coaching staff will be preaching during the bye week.
Colby: D+. Special teams struggled on kick returns, punt returns and field goals in this game. With the most dangerous kick returner in the country, the Wildcats only mustered an average of 15.8 yards per kickoff and 2.3 yards on punt returns. The Wildcats also missed a chip shot in the first quarter off the foot of Freshman kicker Kyle Thompson. Special teams are normally a hallmark of a Jay Hill-coached team. I think we see improvement here as the season progresses.
Sean: C+. Were the special teams great on Saturday? No. Did they completely blow the game? No. This was a completely average performance that earned a completely average grade from me.