Wildcats Hope to Embarrass Boise State

Boise State will once again play a Big Sky school in the football opener, as no Division I-A teams wanted to begin the season in Boise. Will the Broncos overlook Weber State? The Wildcats feature plenty of talent, as the article shows.

"We're just trying to get on the same page so we can go out there and beat Boise,"

Wide Receiver Bryant Eteuati

 

"If we play our best, we can hang with them and maybe beat them in the end,"

Quarterback Jimmy Barnes

 

Head Coach Ron McBride is hoping to improve a Wildcat offense that averaged about 18 points as Weber State finished 4-7, 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference last season.  WSU averaged just less than 122 yards a game and 171.5 yards passing.  The Wildcats return five starters on offense and five on defense, as well as the kicker and punter.

McBride expects the addition of transfer quarterback Jimmy Barnes (6-5, 235, So.) from the University of Alabama, a strong running game and a veteran offense line should make the Wildcats more explosive this fall.  New offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven, who coached quarterbacks last season, has been working with Barnes.  Barnes was a star at Los Alamitos High School, throwing to receivers Jeremy Childs and Orlando Scandrick.  Childs is now the starting wideout for Boise State while Scandrick will start tonight at cornerback.  Weber defensive end Kevin Linehan also started at Los Alamitos.

Trevyn Smith (5-9, 210, So.) didn't start the first two games of the year last season, but turned heads when he got the starting job. He broke out with a huge game against Southern Utah when he rushed for 186 yards.  Smith finished the season as the Big Sky's leading rusher with 1,182 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 102 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry.  As you might expect with Smith's build, he has a low center of gravity and is difficult to bring down.  Marcus Mailei (6-1, 250, Jr.) will block for Smith. He also carried 15 times for 80 yards last season.  

Smith is primed for another big year behind what looks to be an effective offensive line that is led by offensive tackle David Hale (6-6, 305 Sr.). Hale has started in 25 consecutive games and is rated as one of the top 10 offensive tackles in Division I-FCS.  Paul Carpenter (6-6, 300, Jr.) moves into the starting lineup this fall opposite Hale.  Both guards return in Dimitri Tsoumpas (6-4, 300 Sr.) and Kyle Mutcher (6-3, 285 So.).  Cameron Molifua (6-1, 290, So.) will start at center.

Another player to watch is electric wide receiver/return specialist Bryant Eteuati (5-7, 160, Jr.), who played in just eight games but made the most of his return attempts. He had 19 kickoff returns for an average of 27.9 per return and a 100-yard TD return against Montana.  The Broncos would be well-served to keep an eye on Eteuati, who also averaged 12.1 yards per punt return last season.

Tim Toone (5-10, 165, Jr.) will start at the other wideout position.  BYU transfer Zac Ereksen could also figure into Weber's strategy.  Ed Brown (6-4, 265, Sr.) is the tight end.

Weber State's defense was second in the Big Sky last season but was hit hard by graduation.  Pate Moleni (6-2, 275, Jr.) leads a big defensive line; Moleni paced the team in sacks with 6.5 last year.  Joining Moleni on the line are Linehan (6-3, 255, So.), captain Derek Johnson (6-2, 290, Sr.) and Bryce Scalon (6-3, 290, Jr.).  This unit helped Weber State allow just 112.5 yards a game last season, third in the Big Sky and 19th in the FCS.

Moleni led the team in sacks with 6.5 last year. Other players that should be a key to the defense are Snow College transfer J.D. Folsom at linebacker and sophomore safety Beau Hadley.

Brad Stewart (6-2, 240 Sr.) anchors the Wildcat linebacking crew on the strong side and is a captain.  Jerome's Clayton (Biff" Swan (6-0, 230, Jr.) is in the middle.  RYAN GALOVIC (6-0, 230, Jr.) normally plays rover in Weber's 4-2-5 defense but will likely play near the line to defense against Boise State's strong running game.

The cornerbacks are senior Craig North (5-11, 190) and Duane Paul (5-11, 190, Jr.) while Ty Sparrow (6-4,225, Sr.) and sophomore Beau Hadley (6-0, 185) are the safeties. Sparrow was one of the team's leading tacklers last year with 68 and also had three pass deflections. North had 46 stops with 6.5 tackles for loss and two deflections.

Mike Snoy returns at punter for McBride after averaging 40.3 yards a kick last season.  Conner Foley (6-2, 190, Jr.) will once again handle the placekicking duties. Foley was 10-19 last year with a long of 42 yards.

Bronco fans know full well the quality of the Big Sky; they played in the league for 25 years.  Boise State's wins over Division I-A schools back then (including wins over Utah) serve as a reminder of what Big Sky schools can do.  The Bronco players need only be reminded of the near-win that Portland State had in Bronco Stadium just two years ago.  There's some good football in the Big Sky and Weber State is not to be taken for granted.

If Boise State brings their "A" game, E/A Sports is predicting a good result.  In 100 simulations between the two teams, Boise State won all 100 by an average score of 46.8-5.6.  If, on the other hand, the Broncos allow their opponent to gather confidence, the score could resemble the 21-15 simulation that occurred within that run of 100.  Boise State hopes to field a strong defense this fall.  That is characterized by putting the hammer down for four quarters and not giving the opposition a chance to get momentum.  Going against a former Southeastern Conference quarterback will be a good test for the Bronco secondary.    

Kickoff for tonight's season opener is set for 7 p.m. in Bronco Stadium.

 


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