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OGDEN — After an impressive 2021 spring season, a 5-1 overall record and a Big Sky Conference championship, expectations were high coming into the fall campaign for Weber State.
There was hope the team could replicate their spring success against a full schedule, but it's been a somewhat underwhelming and a surprising start as the Wildcats sit at 2-4 without a single victory against a ranked opponent.
So the natural question is: What's going on with the Wildcats? How could a team that went 5-1 in April be 2-4 in October and be at the bottom of the conference they dominated just a few months ago?
While there's a myriad explanations for their current struggles, there's a few obvious reasons that have contributed to a slow and somewhat alarming start to the season.
Strength of schedule matters, and this season has been much more difficult
During the spring, the Wildcats played six total games, only one of which was against a top 25 FCS opponent. This season, Weber State has played four ranked opponents, including a then-top 25 FBS team in Utah, and three top 15 FCS teams, which accounts for all losses.
All but one of Weber's victories last season were decided by 5 points or less, so it's not like they were blowing teams out — their games were incredibly close. Now, Weber has been on the losing end of those close games — a 17-14 loss to No. 12 UC Davis and a 13-7 loss against No. 9 Montana State.
So while games are still close, and Weber State is by no means in over their heads, they are losing the tougher matchups. The spring season is looking a bit less impressive since the competition wasn't anywhere near the level it has been as of late.
Play at quarterback has been unreliable due to injuries and rotations
Without consistency under center and a constantly revolving quarterback taking snaps, it hasn't been easy to win football games for the Wildcats. In spring, freshman quarterback Bronson Barron was a welcomed surprise as he quickly acclimated to the starting position and proceeded to lead the team. He finished throwing for 1,071 yards and seven touchdowns on 72-of-130 passing.
Barron, however, suffered an injury against Dixie State this season and missed the next three games, which included No. 2 James Madison and No. 12 UC Davis. In his absence, Randall Johnson and Kylan Weisser took on the responsibilities under center, but it was a bit of a rough go.
Johnson didn't last too long and recorded just 12 completions on 23 attempts for 163 yards, one interception and no touchdowns. Weisser, on the other hand, took a minute to find his stride; and while he was a formidable replacement, posting 545 yards and four touchdowns, he also threw two costly interceptions against UC Davis and finished his assignment with a record of 1-2.
Barron has returned to the lineup, but the Wildcats aren't out of the woods just yet. It will take some time for him to shake off the rust and regain chemistry with his receivers. In the team's last game, Barronwas unable to find the end zone in a 13-7 loss to No. 9 Montana State.
The run game has been non-existent compared to the spring
Weber State's run game has been a glaring issue in fall and hasn't been anywhere near the production level from last season. In spring, Weber State averaged 207 yards per game, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. In comparison, the Wildcats have only averaged 139.3 yards per game this season, which is only 3.6 yards per carry.
While it's not reasonable to blame just one single player — it's a team effort — there seems to be somewhat of a correlation between the run game struggles and the performance of junior running back Josh Davis. In his fourth full season at Weber State, Davis has experienced significant career lows in total yards, yards per carry, and yards per game. For the year, he has only produced 266 yards on 62 carries, which is an average of 4.3 yards per carry and 53.2 yards per game.