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OGDEN -- Coming off a disappointing loss against Montana State, the 21st ranked Weber State Wildcats face another tough test this Saturday in Cheney, Wash., against the 14th ranked Eastern Washington Eagles.
The Eagles, who currently lead the Big Sky Conference, disrupted the Wildcats' perfect Big Sky season when they came into Ogden and beat the ‘Cats 33-26. That loss forced the Wildcats to share the conference title with rival Montana.
"We can't afford another loss," said Wildcat Head Coach Ron McBride. "Last week's game hurt, but we need to regain our confidence back. This team has been able to bounce back after tough losses, and we have good leadership. I expect the leaders to step up, as well as the coaches, in keeping this group positive this week."
The Wildcat defense will have its hands full with the Eagles' leader, quarterback Matt Nichols. Nichols, a four-year starter, needs only 300 yards to become Eastern Washington's career leader in passing yards.
Nichols has played three career games against the ‘Cats and has just torched the defense. He has completed nearly 50 percent of his passes for 591 yards and seven touchdowns. Not only that, he is effective on the ground as well rushing 34 times for 177 yards.
Another threat the Wildcat defense will have to contain is the Eagles' speedster Taiwan Jones. Jones is having a career year as a sophomore in 2009 carrying the ball 63 times for 577 yards and nine touchdowns already in just five games. He currently leads the conference in rushing, averaging 115.4 yards a game and 9.2 yards per carry.
"They are playing with a great deal of confidence right now," said Coach McBride. "Nichols is a solid quarterback with an accurate arm. Jones is probably the fastest back we have faced as a defense. Their offense is solid. Their defense is solid. This is a very good football team right now."
Another factor playing into the game on Saturday will be whether or not the Wildcats can cut down on the turnovers. In five games this season, the ‘Cats have last two fumbles and thrown 11 interceptions. Eastern Washington leads the conference in turnover margin, while the Wildcats are sixth.
The Wildcats and Eagles square off this Saturday, Oct. 10, at Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Mountain Time.