Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
OGDEN — Coming off a disappointing 2-9 season in 2012, the Weber State Wildcats' football program is trying to make the leap back to being one of the top teams in the Big Sky Conference.
In 2008, former head coach Ron McBride led the Wildcats to a 10-4 overall record, a 7-1 record in conference play, which is the best single-season record in school history, and a first-round playoff victory.
Since McBride's departure from the ’Cats in 2011, Weber State has amassed just a 7-15 record overall and has failed to even qualify for the playoffs.
Despite a series of pinball-type changes in the head coach's office and not much success on the field, the Wildcats and head coach Jody Sears remain hopeful of being able to embrace the adversity and make the leap back to being a top-caliber team.
"(Our expectations) are to be better than what we were last year, and to be efficient and consistent," said Sears. "We just have to take it one day at a time, come out here with good energy, good leadership and good focus. If we can embrace the fatigue, embrace the adversity, get better and push ourselves through that threshold, then we will have some good growth."
Weber State finally has some stability on the sidelines and on the field, with Sears returning for his second year at the helm of the Wildcats and a number of returning starters to give the ’Cats some experience and depth.
The Wildcats are coming into the 2013 season with an experienced offensive line, led by junior Shelton Robinson; a deep and explosive group of running backs; and a powerful defense.
Running backs Josh Booker, Bo Bolen, Barrinton Collins and newly acquired Zach Smith will headline Weber State's offense in the backfield this fall.
"In this offense, having that depth is huge. You obviously want to establish the run and have three or four quality backs that are proven and can pay huge dividends for us; especially in the third and fourth quarters," Sears said. "I have three or four guys that can give us some production and not lose anything. It is absolutely huge; we didn't have that last year."
With an experienced offensive line and its deep running game, some big holes should open up for the backs and the Wildcats should be expected to be dominant on the ground.
Aside from their running game, led by Booker, the Wildcats also expect big things from wide-outs Cameron Livingston (WR1), Erik Walker and Cody Raymond.
These key players will try to help the ’Cats climb back atop the Big Sky Conference in 2013 and will anchor Weber State on both sides of the ball.
During a team scrimmage on Aug. 10, Weber State showcased things not seen in years. The Wildcats appeared cool and confident in their play-making abilities, and things seemed to be slowly falling into place for the squad that's struggled over the past few years.
Weber State will kick off the 2013 season at home against Stephen F. Austin at 6 p.m. on Aug. 31.
Ryan Love was born and raised in Holladay, Utah and is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications. He became a part-time scoreboarder and sports reporter for the Deseret News in October 2012. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
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