FOOTBALL: Grading the UC Davis Game
(Image courtesy of ESPN)
Weber State football found a way to make a second half comeback against the 23rd-ranked UC Davis Aggies on Saturday and get an 18-13 victory, moving the Wildcats to 2-0 on the season. We asked our crew to grade the offense, defense and special teams performances from this weekend.
AC: If I’m only grading the second half, I’d probably say B+, but since I’m grading the whole game I think I’ve gotta go C-. Let’s be honest, the offense just wasn’t clicking in the first half. The squad went into the locker room, came out with tempo and passion, and things changed awfully quickly for the Wildcat attack, but I can’t disregard the fact that they didn’t get anything done for an entire half.
Joe Traub: C. In the first half, I thought it was 2018 and the Wildcats were facing the Maine Black Bears. The Wildcats could just not move the ball, no matter what they tried. A variety of factors led to the rough opening 30 minutes, then something just clicked. Jay Hill and his staff likely used the intermission for the best possible adjustments, as we’ve seen so many times over the last few years. The first third quarter that put Weber on the board was fascinating in the sense that it was anything but electric, but rather a great job by Bronson Barron to calmly lead the team down the field on several basic, good football plays. After getting the ball back, Barron decided he wanted to keep the crowd riled up by firing a strike to Ty MacPherson, then Daniel Wright Jr. quickly put the ‘Cats in front. The fourth quarter was a tad sloppy from the offense, but they did enough to ensure a field goal that made it a five-point lead.
Dustin “Chappy” Chapman: B-. They got it done when they needed to and really that’s what prevents this grade from being a D, but it took too long to get going and there were too many dropped passes. Against elite-tier competition in the playoffs we can’t have slow starts like that and expect to win.
Sean Lewis: C+ grading up for the win, but this is the second game (out of two that have been played) that the Wildcats have come out flat to start the game. It was clear the gameplan was to throw deep, but in the stands I was wondering why there wasn’t a more concerted effort to work the short pass game to help establish the run, continue to open up the deep routes, and, most importantly, give Barron a chance to establish a rhythm and success to give him confidence. The first half throwing numbers were abysmal. The Wildcats are lucky that Jay Hill and staff are some of the best coaches in the country at making halftime adjustments.
AC: A stellar performance from the defense on Saturday, so I’m going to give them an A-. I’d have liked more pressure on the QB, but overall I thought they stymied the Aggie offense, held them to under 50% completions, no 100 yard rushers, two turnovers. Great day for the defense.
Joe: A. Fans who were able to attend Saturday’s game got a glimpse of “Back to the Future” for Weber State football. Before the pandemic, one could usually count on at least one big-time defensive play to quell a late rally. It happened twice on Saturday, when Eddie Heckard and Preston Smith did a great job of reading routes and snared interceptions near the sideline. In the first half, UC Davis quarterback Hunter Rodrigues was able to lead his team down the field on multiple occasions, but the stout ‘Cats defense was able to stand tall and limit the Aggies to 10 points.
Chappy: A-. Defense was back with intensity and great play against a well coached Aggie offense. For those who were concerned with the defense after the Idaho State game, this was a message to you. The reason I gave an A- instead of an A was because they only recorded one sack and let Rodrigues break containment a lot on scrambles. Credit to the defense, though, because they kept Weber State in the game in the first half when the offense was sputtering.
Sean: B+. The Wildcat defense kept the game close while the offense was putting up a lackluster first half. The DB’s were ballhawks, leading to drive-crushing turnovers, and several additional near turnovers. I downgraded here just because every positive run for the Aggies seemed to go for 4 yards. The defense only really broke once, but from my seat didn’t really dominate in the way they will need to in the playoffs.
AC: Kyle Thompson nailed a 41 yard field goal. Mackenzie Morgan landed multiple punts inside the 15 or even further despite some pesky wind, Rashid Shaheed had a big 32-yard return, and there was a trick play for a two-point conversion. They looked MUCH improved over what we saw against Idaho State. I’m going to give them an A-.
Joe: A-. To me, one of the biggest aspects on Saturday was Morgan’s ability to pin the Aggies very deep in their own territory late in the game. It is so tough for an opponent to drive the length of the field for a go-ahead drive against the Wildcats in the fourth quarter at Stewart Stadium, and Morgan’s leg made sure that was basically an impossible task. The two-point conversion brought back sweet memories of previous seasons for Wildcat football, and it was good to see Thompson rebound from a miss in the opener to convert on a tricky 41-yarder late in the game. As we’ve seen often in football, kicking is a mental game and one miss can unfortunately turn an entire season around for a placekicker. Thompson should have confidence back now.
Chappy: B+. It was probably just the lack of having the wind at our back that affected some of the first-half punts. Mackenzie Morgan did a great job -especially in the fourth quarter- of pinning UC Davis deep inside their own territory. Thompson was good, Shaheed almost busted his first kick return for a touchdown of the season, we even had a great two-point conversion. Special teams were really good.
Sean: A. The two-point conversion proved to be a strategic advantage for the Wildcats as for much of the second half, the Aggies were playing needing a TD to take the lead. Coach Hill has made it a habit to go for two after the first TD. On Saturday that was a big advantage for the Wildcats. There were a few lackluster punts, but I’m chalking that up to the weather more than actual mistakes by the team. Once again, special teams did nothing that cost the Wildcats an opportunity to win the ball game.