Weber State football aims for consistency to send Southern Utah out of Big Sky | News, Sports, Jobs

Robert Casey, Weber State Athletics

Weber State’s George Tarlas, 44, fires Southern Utah quarterback Justin Miller (4) during a game in Cedar City on Saturday, April 3, 2021.

OGDEN – Weber state football has not been in this position for six years.

A pretty impressive home loss to Portland State last week saw the end of WSU’s postseason hopes with two games left.

“It was a pretty weak group on Monday, which is what you’d expect,” said head coach Jay Hill. “I think the reality of all the success we’ve had and that we’ve lost a couple of games this year and the likelihood of making the playoffs is slim to no, it was a downed group. But the reality is, you have to recover. “

For the second time in seven months, Weber State travels to Cedar City to face rival Southern Utah.

“We have really good opponents. Southern Utah could be the best 9-1 team I’ve ever seen so we’d better be ready this week because they’ll be ready for us, I promise, ”said Hill.

When Big Sky planners postponed the Weber-SUU game to the end of the season – originally the 2020 schedule, which was postponed to autumn 2021 – they had no idea that it would be the Thunderbirds’ last game in the conference.

Southern Utah (1-9, 0-7 Big Sky) will leave for the Western Athletic Conference on July 1, 2022, and Saturday’s matchup will be the last game on SUU’s football schedule.

While the two programs are likely to play as non-conference opponents in some way, Weber State plays to give the Thunderbirds their fifth straight loss in the series and a 4-26 record in the last four conference schedules to be sent from the Big Sky.

The 2021 campaign in southern Utah was mostly filled with blowouts, although two of them against FBS teams are certainly not a blow to the T-Birds. SUU most notably won a future conference match at Tarleton State, 40-35, played Portland State a 20-13 loss and was one hell of a field goal away from potentially beating Montana at Missoula and losing 20-19.

But the SUU wasn’t even really competitive against unranked league opponents like Idaho or Northern Arizona.

Even so, they play to really send their seniors out and try to end the season with a win.

Justin Miller is still a quarterback in Cedar City. He threw 24 of 43 for just 181 yards against WSU in the spring, a game Weber State won 19-16, something Hill said would be key again.

“Anyone who beats them has to do a good job of stopping the quarterback and giving him multiple looks, both on the front lines and in coverage,” said Hill. “We have to do a good job to stop the run and make it one-dimensional. Defensively, that will be the key. “

In the conference game, SUU only scores an average of 20 points per game. His best result was a 59-35 loss to the NAU and his worst was a 17-9 loss at home to Northern Colorado.

“Your insult can be explosive if you give them a chance to be explosive. So we have to leave the field as defense and put the ball back on the offensive, ”said Junior Safety Desmond Williams.

The T-Birds are still a pass-first, pass-often-offense. Miller throws 236 yards per game, a total of nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season with a completion rate of 62%. His top targets are Brandon Schenks (39 catches, 516 yards, six touchdowns) and Ethan Bolingbroke (53 catches, 515 yards, two touchdowns).

Defensively, the man you should know is still La’akea Kaho’ohanohano-Davis as middle linebacker. The exceptional athlete leads SUU with 67 tackles and three sacks and adds an interception this season. In the spring game against WSU he blocked a punt and gave it back for a touchdown.

Weber State’s offense (4-5, 3-3) has gone through a number of games since that spring match at Cedar City but doesn’t look much better. The Wildcats struggled to combine sound blocking and vision to connect in big pass games and haven’t been doing football well in the past two weeks.

“Somehow we missed the consistency of the game. We had Rashid Shaheed four or five times behind Portland State secondary and just didn’t meet him, ”said Hill. “These are the things that cost us. We have to better hit what’s there … We have to be really well prepared, seen the movie and make sure the fixtures are such that we don’t outsmart ourselves and the players and just go ahead and put them in a position where they can play games this week. “

The WSU had only eight handovers to running backs out of 58 offensive games last week. Hill said some of these attempted to use shots available over the top, which ended up not working because quarterback Bronson Barron failed to identify open receivers or because the timing, throw, and route combination did not match.

But what saved a near-defeat at SUU in the spring was Dontae McMillan, who ran 138 yards despite scoring his first carry 1 minute from time in the third quarter.

“The coaches have to do a better job of making plays with the right block angles and getting hat on hat, all the things you have to do there,” said Hill. “We have to involve the traffic jams more … the backers have increased the game in east Washington and we need them to do it again.”

While losing to Portland State, a 5-4 team now 4-3 in Big Sky, was a difference between the playoff chase or just moderately OK, the WSU’s track record this year has been against teams with records like South Utah better. Weber State has won Cal Poly, Dixie State, and Idaho State, which are combined 2-25 this season, with an average score of 40-11.


Jeff Sagarin, longtime guru of computer ratings in college football, puts all FBS and FCS together. Its system ranks Weber State 130th nationwide and southern Utah 208th.

With his prediction formula and taking home advantage into account, Weber State is favored with 17 points.


The weather forecast promises a nice day in Cedar City with sunny skies and a temperature of 64 degrees when the game starts at 2pm

When the sun goes down at the end of the game, temperatures drop to the mid to high 50s.


As with all Big Sky Conference games, the competition will be streamed through the ESPN + subscription service, available through the ESPN streaming / mobile app or online at The call from SUU will have Chris Holmes for play-by-play and Spencer McLaughlin for color. Weber State’s radio call with Steve Klauke and Jerry Graybeal will be broadcast in northern Utah on 103.1 FM and online at


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