Weber State football: Wildcats chasing elusive first road win at Cal Poly

By Ryan Love

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Oct. 11 2013 11:46 p.m. MDT

Weber State Wildcats defense take down Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks running back Gus Johnson (6) during NCAA football in Ogden Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA. — The Weber State Wildcats are looking to kick off the second half of their season the same way they started the first half: with a much-needed victory.

Weber State (1-5, 0-2) hasn't celebrated a victory since its season opener against Stephen F. Austin on Aug. 31, and is in desperate need of a win.

The Wildcats face Cal Poly at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Spanos Stadium.

WSU is coming off a 41-19 loss at No. 6 Eastern Washington last weekend, but showed signs of improvement in the defeat.

"There are no moral victories and there were a lot of good things that we corrected, but it still wasn't enough against a very good team at Eastern Washington," said head coach Jody Sears.

WSU threw for 140 yards, its second-most passing yards of the season, and was plus one in the turnover margin against Eastern Washington. The 'Cats also had their fewest penalties of the season, had their best third-down conversion percentage, and scored in the second quarter for the first time this season.

"We were able to sustain some drives against a very good defense and were better on turnover margin and that was a big emphasis for us," Sears added. "We have to continue to execute and get better, stay the course and be consistent."

Despite the improvements, the Wildcats are last in the Big Sky and rank 117th in the nation in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score 92.6 percent of the time when in the red zone. Of the 25 times they have allowed their opponents to score in the red zone, 21 of them cost them seven points.

With Anthony Morales and Luke King both sidelined with injuries, WSU's defense noticeably suffered last week. Freshman Spencer Unga stepped up, however, powering the defense with a career-high 13 tackles.

And Weber State continues to get valuable contributions from its freshmen. In Saturday's loss at Eastern Washington, 20 freshmen or redshirt freshmen saw action. Four of them started.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs had been ranked in the Top 25 all season before falling out of the rankings after last week's home loss to Yale.

Weber State's defense will have its hands full with a high-powered Cal Poly offense. The Mustangs rank second in the Big Sky in rushing offense with 267.6 yards per game and are led by star running back Kristaan Ivory, who leads the Big Sky in rushing with 116.8 yards per game.

Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.

Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724

EMAIL: rlove@deseretnews.com