Weber State looks to bounce back in road tilt against Dixie State

Weber State quarterback Bronson Barron under center Ben Bos during the Wildcats' FCS spring opener at Idaho State, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2021.

Weber State quarterback Bronson Barron under center Ben Bos during the Wildcats' FCS spring opener at Idaho State, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics)

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SALT LAKE CITY — After a disappointing 40-17 loss in their season opener against Utah, Weber State will be looking to bounce back as they travel down to St. George to face in-state foe Dixie State.

While facing the Utes was a great test and assessment of where Weber State is as a program, the Wildcats will have a much better chance to emerge victorious as the Trailblazers present a much more evenly matched competition.

Scouting the Wildcats

Ranking: No. 10 in the Power Poll Ranking

Record: (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky)

Last Week: L vs. Utah, 40-17

While a loss is always disappointing, nobody expected Weber State to upset Utah, especially on their home turf of Rice-Eccles Stadium. For the Wildcats, it's focusing on the positive and attempting to build off of what they did well as they seek their first victory of the season.

Freshman quarterback Bronson Barron was one of the bright spots for Weber State. He finished the day 21-of-33 (63%) for 213 yards (6.5 average) and a touchdown. While he did throw an interception and experienced a drive that ended with a goal-line stance that resulted in a turnover on downs, Barron faced one of the top defenses in the country and nearly matched Utah quarterback Charlie Brewer in passing yards.

As for Barron's favorite targets, the receiving wealth was evenly distributed: Justin Malone finished with 50 yards on five receptions, Ty MacPherson had 48 yards on five receptions and Randal Grimes had 41 yards on two receptions.

From a rushing standpoint, the Wildcats struggled as they were unable to find anything on the ground and finished with a measly 57 yards on 30 carries (1.9 average). It is important to note that the Utah defensive line clogged every hole; and even if they broke through, linebacker Devin Lloyd was on the other side and quickly shut things down.

Defensively, Weber State had their work cut out for them; they allowed 40 points, 450 total yards and 28 first downs. But again, it's important to note they were facing a top 25 team with a lot of promise and a plethora of offensive talent.

Wildcats to watch

Bronson Barron

Barron will, again, be one of the top players to watch for the Wildcats this week. The true freshman showed a ton of promise during the spring season where he threw for 1,071 yards. Facing a much less talented defense, don't be surprised if Barron throws for 250+ yards and multiple touchdowns against Dixie State.

Josh Davis

Facing one of the toughest defenses in the country, Weber State standout Josh Davis was held in check and finished the night with only 17 yards on seven carries. This week, Davis will be facing a defense that previously allowed 208 yards on the ground in their week one matchup. With that, Davis very well could be back to his old ways as someone who led the Big Sky during the spring season with 96.2 yards per game.

Scouting the Trailblazers

Ranking: N/A

Record: (0-1, 0-0 WAC)

Last Week: L vs Sacramento State, 19-7

Dixie State is also coming off a loss; the Trailblazers significantly struggled against Sacramento State at home and lost 19-7. Not only did they lose by two possessions, but Dixie State was heavily outplayed where they allowed 401 total yards, 208 rushing yards and 26 first downs.

Quarterback Kody Wilstead had a below-average night, finishing 15-of-31 for only 158 yards (5.1 average). He also struggled to find a rhythm: he was flagged for an intentional grounding that resulted in a safety, threw an interception, and failed to connect with any of his receivers for a touchdown.

Despite his struggles, several of his receivers had decent nights. Jalen Powell finished with 48 yards on four receptions and David Fisher had 40 yards on four receptions, as well.

As for the run game, it didn't play a significant role in the Trailblazers offense. The team only recorded 55 yards on 24 carries (2.3 average). Notably, Quali Conley was the only back to break 20 yards (he finished with 26 yards) on eight carries.

Defensively, the game was a nightmare. The Hornets moved the ball all over the field, and, collectively, Dixie State couldn't figure out a way to stop them. Despite the team's struggles, freshman defensive back Tyrell Grayson had a career night and finished with 13 total tackles, 12 of which were solo.

Trailblazers to watch

Kody Wilstead

Wilstead's game against Sacramento was an out-of-character performance for the quarterback. During the spring season, Wilstead thrived and threw for 1,339 yards and 10 touchdowns. If he can return to his spring form, the Wildcats may be in for a long night.

Malaki Malaki

Malaki is another player who, despite the team's struggles, had a pretty decent performance against Sacramento. He finished with 11 tackles and one tackle for loss against Dixie Stat. As the team's leader in tackles during the spring season, Malaki will be commanding the defense and in charge of keeping Weber State's weapons in check in order to keep the game competitive.

How to watch

This week's game will be available to stream via ESPN+ and the ESPN app, with kickoff set for 8 p.m. MT. Fans can also listen to 103.1 "The Wave" with Steve Klauke and Jerry Graybeal on the call.

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