Weber State seeks first home victory in conference matchup with No. 10 UC Davis

Weber State opens up its season on the road at Rice-Eccles Stadium against No. 24 Utah on Sept. 2, 2021.

Weber State opens up its season on the road at Rice-Eccles Stadium against No. 24 Utah on Sept. 2, 2021. (Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics)



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — After a dominant victory against in-state-foe Dixie State, the Weber State Wildcats suffered a tough loss at the hands of No. 2 James Madison. While the Wildcats had high hopes of upsetting the highly ranked Dukes in a top ten matchup on their home field, Weber State conceded an early lead and would never recover. Now, the Wildcats will look to even up their record at 2-2 with a victory over UC Davis.

Scouting the Wildcats

Ranking: No. 15 in the Power Poll Ranking

Record: (1-2, 0-0 Big Sky)

Last Week: L vs James Madison, 37-24

Even though the Wildcats posted the first points of the game with a 36-yard field goal, the Dukes quickly took control and would never look back as they scored 24 unanswered points. While Weber State would score a touchdown to somewhat close the gap, James Madison would rattle off another 13 straight and build an insurmountable score of 37 points to spoil the Wildcats home opener.

With Bronson Barron sidelined with an MCL injury, the Wildcats would play three different quarterbacks against the Dukes. Randall Johnson made the initial start but struggled immensely during the first half, going 6-13 for only 69 yards and an interception.

With Johnson's struggles head coach Jay Hill decided to mix things up and replaced him with Kylan Weisser for nearly the entire second half. Presumably, Weisser went 13-22 for 164 yards and a touchdown.

Additionally, freshman Creyton Cooper entered the game for a single down, connecting with Hayden Meacham for a 1-yard touchdown early in the third quarter.

As for the run game, the Wildcats were held in check on the ground as they totaled only 78 yards on 39 carries (2.0 average). While it wasn't an overly productive day, Josh Davis led the room with 59 yards and a touchdown on 16 touches.

Defensively, Weber State was simply outmatched when it truly mattered as they allowed 359 yards of total offense and 201 on the ground. Notably, even though James Madison had less time of possession and fewer snaps, the Wildcats couldn't slow them down as the Dukes averaged a superior 5.7 yards per play.

Senior Conner Mortensen led the room with eight total tackles, three of which were solo and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Wildcats to Watch

The Quarterback

With Barron most likely sidelined again, Weber State will need to produce a starter by Saturday to face the Aggies. With the recent struggles of Johnson and the solid performance of Weisser, the coaching staff will have their work cut out for them as they weigh the options.

For now, Hill said they have yet to make a decision but regardless of who it is, they'll have a major impact on the game.

The Defensive Line

The Aggies run game has been nearly unstoppable through three games as they've accumulated 759 yards to this point in the season. With all their recent success, it's likely that UC Davis will look to attack the Wildcats on the ground which means the defensive line will need to step up and win the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Hear it from Head Coach Jay Hill

"We have all the respect in the world for UC Davis, always have. Coach Hawkins does a fabulous job with the offense and the defense down there, special teams, they're very well coached. They've always had our full focus and attention every time we've played these guys and they're a very good football team," coach Hill said.

Scouting the Aggies

Ranking: No. 10 in the Power Poll Ranking

Record: (3-0, 0-0 Big Sky)

Last Week: W vs Dixie State, 60-27

UC Davis is off to a tremendous start this season as they Aggies have accrued a perfect 3-0 record. In their latest victory, UC Davis absolutely annihilated Dixie State in a 60-27 victory with five different Aggies finding the end zone.

While the pass game wasn't the primary offensive focus against the Trail Blazers, quarterback Hunter Rodrigues still had a respectable day as he finished 11-19 for 126 yards and a touchdown.

In regards to receiving, the wealth was pretty evenly distributed as five Aggies finished with more than 20 yards receiving. Notably, senior Jared Harrell led the room with 39 yards and a touchdown on two receptions.

The run game absolutely exploded as the Aggies rushed for 380 yards on 54 attempts (7.0 average). Junior Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. had a breakout performance as he led the room with 178 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries (6.8 average).

Defensively, while UC Davis did allow 389 yards through the air, they completely shutdown Dixie State's run game, holding the trailblazers to only 53 yards on 26 attempts (2.0 average). Overall, Junior Jordan Perryman led the team with six tackles, five of which were solo.

Aggies to Watch

Ulonzo Gilliam Jr.

Gilliam Jr. had a breakout performance in the Aggies previous matchup, finishing with 198 total yards and four touchdowns. With his performance, it's likely UC Davis will look his way again as the junior running back demonstrated versatility and consistency against Dixie State.

The Secondary

As the Wildcats look to figure out their situation at quarterback, the Aggies secondary will play a critical role in Saturday's matchup as they look to replicate their performance against Dixie State. Against the Trailblazers, the secondary came up with five interceptions on the night which greatly propelled their offense and gave them multiple extra possessions.

How to Watch

This week's game will be available to stream via ESPN+ and the ESPN app with kickoff set for 6 p.m. MT. Additionally, fans can also tune into KJZZ TV or listen to 103.1 "The Wave" with Tony Parks and Jerry Graybeal on the call.

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