HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days" where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … Weber State.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country with HERO Sports.
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Weber State (10-3 IN 2018)
Big Sky (Weber finished T1st in 2018)
COACH: Jay Hill – At School: 6th Year (35-26) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2018 (Quarterfinals)
2018 OFFENSE: 27.8 ppg (60th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 21.2 ppg (16th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Sept. 28 vs. Northern Iowa: The Wildcats have a couple of huge Big Sky games, but this nonconference matchup has big playoff implications. Both UNI and Weber are consistent postseason teams. While where they finish in their respective conference standings is important, an out-of-conference game like this gives the playoff committee a big "data point."
SUM IT UP: The Weber State football program is on a roll right now. Thanks to impressive recruiting by Jay Hill and his staff, the Wildcats are coming off back-to-back Big Sky Conference titles and quarterfinal appearances. Weber has needed to replace standout senior classes these last couple of seasons and didn't blink, making it one of very few FCS programs that can "reload."
The reloading of the 2019 team could be its biggest challenge yet, though. While the offense returns eight starters and the special teams standouts are back, Weber's stellar defense returns just four starters. That unit loses six First Team All-Big Sky players and seven defensive players overall that earned All-Conference honors.
Weber's defense was the strength of last year's team (21.2 points allowed per game, which was 16th in the FCS). The offense hung around being average with 27.8 points per game, ranking 60th in the subdivision. Huge shoes have to be filled if the Wildcats want to be solid again on defense, although the starters that are back are among the best in the conference. Defensive end Adam Rodriguez is a HERO Sports Preseason All-American and DE Jonah Williams and linebacker Auston Tesch are All-Big Sky performers.
The offense was up-and-down last year and will look for more consistency in its passing game. In his first season with the program, transfer quarterback Jake Constantine went 208-341 passing for 2,205 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Expect a strong running game again, spearheaded by last year's FCS Freshman of the Year Josh Davis, who ran for 1,362 yards and nine touchdowns and can also do damage in the return game. Ty Whitworth leads the big boys up front as a preseason All-American.
Speaking of special teams, Rashid Shaheed is a preseason All-American as a return specialist along with kicker Trey Tuttle. Punter Doug Lloyd earned All-Big Sky honors last year. The Wildcats should have one of the best special teams units in the FCS once again.
OUR TAKE: Weber State is an interesting team to try and predict. We have them preseason ranked No. 11. But here's the thing: the Wildcats lose a lot on a terrific defense and return a lot on a so-so offense. So the return players on offense need to become more explosive and the new faces on defense need to step up if this team wants to continue its winning ways. We'll find out in a hurry how good the Wildcats are. The nonconference features two FBS opponents (San Diego State and Nevada) and 2018 playoff participant Northern Iowa. The Big Sky slate isn't terrible, as Weber avoids Eastern Washington and Montana State, but road trips to UC Davis and Montana are tough. Because of the recruiting job Weber has done, we expect this team to be back in the playoffs. The offense should be improved and the defense shouldn't take that big of a step back even with all of the new starters. This program reloads and will do it again in 2019.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: So./RB Josh Davis (HERO Sports Preseason All-American, 2018 Jerry Rice Award winner, 1,362 rushing yards and 9 TDs)
THE FOUNDATION: Jr./WR-RS Rashid Shaheed (HERO Sports Preseason AA as a RS, 34.3 yards per KR and 2 TDs); Jr./OL Ty Whitworth (HERO Sports Preseason AA); Sr./DE Adam Rodriguez (HERO Sports Preseason AA, 7 sacks and 15 TFLs); Jr./K Trey Tuttle HERO Sports Preseason AA); Sr./DE Jonah Williams (All-Conference 1st Team, 42 tackles and 7 TFLs); Sr./P Doug Lloyd (AC 2nd Team); Sr./LB Auston Tesch (AC 3rd Team, 41 tackles and 5 TFLs); Jr./OL Ben Bos (AC HM)
TOP NEWCOMER: Jr./S Desmond Williams (Boise State transfer, played in 27 games in 2017 and 2018 for Boise State and had a combined 58 tackles and 8 TFLs)
THE QUOTE: "Once again we're really excited for this signing class. We really like the talent from top to bottom and have a great mix of offense and defense. We continue to stay true to our recruiting philosophy of a lot of recruits from Utah and supplemented from other states around the area. We're really excited to have this group come in and see how they play." — head coach Jay Hill said
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Weber State Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The Big Sky
Montana | Montana St | NAU | UNC
Portland St | Sac St | SUU | UC Davis | Weber St
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