by Tyler Burgener
Why they will be better
They boast a strong signing class including a couple transfers from FBS programs such as WR Randal Grimes (USC), and TE Jordan Allen (Tennessee).
Even with these additions, the Wildcats bring back much of their team from the spring season. This team will be experienced and focused on not only repeating the successes from the spring season, but improving on the things that were considered failures.
Even with a tougher schedule (continue reading to see a breakdown of the schedule), Weber State should be favored to win the Big Sky title again and make the FCS playoffs.
If the injury bug can stay away from this team and young players such as QB Bronson Barron and RB Dontae McMillan can continue to improve, the Wildcat’s chances to be better than they were in the spring are favorable.
This season’s schedule is not the Big Sky only slate from the season before. This team is very talented but will face a P5 team in the Utes to the south and an FCS power in James Madison in the first three weeks of the season.
What the Wildcats have going for them, however, is they do not leave the friendly confines of the State of Utah for the first month of the season, despite a couple road trips to Salt Lake City and St. George to face Utah and Dixie State, respectively.
Below is a breakdown of Weber State’s schedule:
In the first week of the season, Weber State travels to Rice-Eccles Stadium to face the Utah Utes. Although this game is by all purposes a scheduled loss, there is still a lot the Wildcats can take from this game. This game, if played well and fairly mistake free, can be a springboard of confidence for the rest of the season if they can hang with the Utes, even for a short time.
Unless they can prove to be the next Appalachian State, the Wildcats will open the season with a loss.
In Week 2, Weber State hits the road again to sunny St. George, Utah to face newly renamed Utah Polytechnic State University Trailblazers. Utah Tech had a strong first season as an FCS program under coach Paul Peterson, but will likely need time for their recruiting to catch up with a team like Weber State.
This game should be a win for the Wildcats, but the Trailblazers will not make it easy for them in Greater Zion Stadium.
Week 3 presents a challenge that, if the Wildcats prove worthy, could vault the program into the stratosphere. James Madison, along with North Dakota State, has been one of the strongest and most successful recent FCS programs.
The fact that the Dukes are willing to travel to Ogden is already a win for the Wildcats in that it shows a tremendous amount of respect from one of the blue bloods of the FCS ranks. It speaks to the level that Coach Jay Hill has his program at to have James Madison be willing to take on the Wildcats in the regular season.
This game will be close, but it will be hard to beat a team like James Madison at home or on the road.
Weber State then goes into their Big Sky Conference slate with home games against UC Davis, Montana State, Portland State, and Northern Colorado. They also have away games against Cal Poly, Eastern Washington, Idaho State, and Southern Utah.
UC Davis is always a tough matchup for the Wildcats. Facing Montana State after a year off will be another challenge for Weber State to overcome as the Bobcats are another team that regularly challenges for the Big Sky title.
A game to watch in the conference slate is against rival Southern Utah. The Thunderbirds are going into their final year as a member of the Big Sky Conference before they become a member of the revamped WAC. Weber State and SUU always provide entertaining games. With this one being their final game as conference foes, expect some emotion on both sides.
Overall, expect another strong season for the Wildcats this fall. They will not be undefeated once the dust settles, but Weber State returns a very good team that will win many games this fall.
It is not unreasonable to think that the Wildcats can come out of the Big Sky slate undefeated. If they can pull off the upset against James Madison, Weber State will be sitting pretty for another FCS playoff run in December.