#28 Weber State FCS Football 2017 Preview


Weber State Wildcats


Overall Rank: #28

#5 Big Sky

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Weber State is coming off a very successful 2016 campaign in which they finished third in the Big Sky with a 6-2 record and reached the playoffs. Their trip to the playoffs was short lived with a 45-14 drubbing at Chattanooga, but it was a big step for Coach Jay Hill’s program. Now the Wildcats hope to build off that success and have another good season with perhaps another trip to the playoffs. With some holes to fill though, it will not be an easy task.
2016 Record: 7-5, 6-2
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Jay Hill (15-20 at Weber State, 15-20 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Fesi Sitake
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Hill
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Treshawn Garrett, RB, 531 yards
Passing: Stefan Cantwell, QB, 28 yards
Receiving: Andrew Vollert, TE, 840 yards
Tackles: Landon Stice, LB, 103
Sacks: Jonah Williams, DE, 2.0
Interceptions: Landon Stice, LB, 1; Xequille Harry, CB, 1
Other Key Returnees: WR Darryl Denby, WR Drew Batchelor, CB Taron Johnson, LB Legrand Toia, S Arnold Lopez
Key Losses: RB Haini Moimoi, QB Jadrian Clark, WR Cameron Livingston, OL Calvin Steyn, OL Cameron Young, LB Tre’von Johnson, S Josh Burton
Quarterback Jadrian Clark needs to be replaced after throwing for 3,033 yards and 23 touchdowns. His 14 interceptions were an issue, but Clark managed the offense very effectively and could make plenty of big plays too. Stefan Cantwell was Clark’s backup last year and figures to step into a starting role during his senior season. He spent a couple years at the junior college level and has thrown just three passes for Weber State. The return of tight end Andrew Vollert will give Cantwell a big, safe target. Vollert caught 62 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Darryl Denby and Drew Batchelor both caught at least 40 passes in 2016 and will be the deeper threats. While the passing game retools, Weber State could attempt to spend more time on the ground after ranking 11th in the Big Sky with 131.8 rushing yards per game last year. Treshawn Garrett is back after leading the team with 531 yards and five touchdowns.
Despite a non-existent pass rush, Weber State boasted the best pass defense in the Big Sky. With Taron Johnson and Xequille Harry back at cornerback and Arnold Lopez at safety, the Wildcats should again be extremely difficult to pass against. If the front seven can get to the quarterback, it would be even better. Jonah Williams was one of two players to record more than a single sack last season and he will headline the front line. Linebacker Tre’von Johnson was the other player to have more than one sack and he could be the toughest player for the Wildcats to replace. Landon Stice is back though after tallying 103 tackles as a sophomore. Look for Legrand Toia to become more of a pass rushing threat from an outside linebacker spot.
The Bottom Line:
Weber State has non-conference games against Montana Western, California and Sacramento State. Sacramento State is a Big Sky member, but that contest will not count towards the conference standings. After that conference play begins with three very winnable games against UC Davis, Montana State and Southern Utah. None of those games will be easy, but if the Wildcats want to return to the playoffs, they may have to win all three, especially with road games against Cal Poly and Eastern Washington in late October and early November.
Projected Postseason: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 131.8 (85th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 256.1 (28, 5)
Total Offense: 387.9 (51, 8)
Scoring Offense: 26.0 (65, 10)
Rushing Defense: 195.2 (90, 8)
Pass Defense: 193.5 (36, 1)
Total Defense: 388.7 (59, 4)
Scoring Defense: 30.0 (80, 7)
Turnover Margin: -0.83 (113, 13)
Sacks: 1.25 (111, 12)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (62, 8)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#129 Zeke Birch
#214 Creston Cooledge
#236 Shamon Willis