Weber State football: Wildcats look to minimize turnovers, penalties in opener vs. Stephen F. Austin

By Ryan Love

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Aug. 30 2013 5:25 p.m. MDT

Weber State running back C.J. Tuckett (22) is upended at the goal line to set up a touchdown on the next play during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Sacramento State, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee, Randall Benton) MAGS OUT; LOCAL TV OUT (KCRA3, KXTV10, KOVR13, KUVS19, KMAZ31, KTXL40); MANDATORY CREDIT

Randall Benton, AP

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OGDEN — "Football fever" is spreading like wildfire throughout the state of Utah and across the nation. It's an environment in which the Weber State Wildcats and head coach Jody Sears hope to thrive off of in their season opener against Stephen F. Austin Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Stewart Stadium.

"I'm anxious and excited, just like everybody else this time of year. I'm really anxious to see the guys perform, and we've addressed a lot of areas where we thought we've been deficient. For the last eight months there has been a lot of hard work, energy and time spent on building some of those deficiencies up," said Sears.

In particular, foolish penalties and costly turnovers hurt the Wildcats a year ago.

Last season, the 'Cats averaged nearly eight penalties per game and turned the ball over 19 times. Sears hopes his guys cut down those numbers this fall, starting Saturday night against Stephen F. Austin.

"If we can have no foolish penalties and be positive in the turnover margin, execute and play with good discipline and good energy, I like what the outcome could be," Sears said. "But we've got to make sure we play good ball. The focus has got to be on our game plan and how we execute it, our fundamentals, our energy, our leadership and our trust."

The Wildcats will look to their leaders on and off the field — such as Shelton Robinson (MLB), Josh Booker and Bo Bolen (RBs), Jordan Adamczyk (QB) and James Washington (DT) — when they take the field against Stephen F. Austin.

Weber State's defense, which gave up a staggering 32 points per game and nearly 430 yards per game just a year ago, should have more experience and will need to step up to give the 'Cats a chance to come away with a quality win.

"I'm just excited to see where we are. We've got a quality, quality, quality opponent coming in here Saturday night that's a playoff-caliber type outfit, and I'm anxious to see where we measure up," Sears said. "But the big thing is just cutting out foolish penalties and turnovers and being sound in our kicking game. If we can do that, I'll like the outcome. I know I will."

Ryan Love was born and raised in Holladay, Utah and is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications. Ryan became a part-time scoreboarder and sports reporter for the Deseret News in October, 2012. EMAIL: rlove@deseretnews.com

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