OGDEN — In a game of "firsts" — the first-ever Friday game in the history of Weber State's football program, and the first Big Sky Conference clash between the Wildcats and league newcomer Cal Poly — WSU will be hoping the contest turns into the first time for something else far more important:
Weber State's elusive first win of the 2012 season.
Indeed, in a campaign which has become increasingly frustrating with each passing week, the winless Wildcats take on the undefeated Mustangs — the third ranked Football Championship Subdivision opponent that WSU has faced in the last four weeks — Friday evening.
Well, maybe the third time will be the charm, but it definitely won't be unless the Wildcats improve vastly over their performance in last weekend's lopsided loss at UC Davis, which jumped out to a 31-0 first-half lead on its way to a surprisingly easy 37-13 victory over WSU.
And Friday night's opponent, Cal Poly — ranked 19th and 20th in the latest FCS polls — defeated UC Davis 28-20 earlier this season, so that doesn't speak well to the Wildcats' chances of being able to finally pick up their first win of the year.
"I was surprised at how we started at UC Davis," said WSU interim head coach Jody Sears, who's also still looking for his first-ever victory as a head coach. "I was surprised at how we reacted to what they did, and I felt like we got caught on our heels right in the beginning and we didn't make enough plays in the first half to put ourselves in position to give us a chance.
"We have another terrific football team coming in this week in Cal Poly and we will have our hands full. They are a very talented and well-coached team.
"The only way we can get through this is to keep fighting our way out of it," Sears said. "It goes back to the fundamentals, and we have to get back to doing those things."
Weber State and Cal Poly have actually squared off on the football field eight previous times, with the Wildcats holding a 5-3 advantage in the series between the two schools, but this marks their first matchup as Big Sky opponents.
And the Mustangs might be looking to stampede the 'Cats in tonight's meeting, as Cal Poly brings one of the country's best rushing attacks to Stewart Stadium. Led by senior Deonte Williams, who leads the Big Sky and is fifth in the nation with over 152 yards rushing per game, the Mustangs are averaging 326 yards per game on the ground. They also have the Big Sky's stingiest scoring defense, allowing 18.2 points per game, while averaging 32 ppg themselves.
On the other side of the coin, Weber State ranks last in the league in scoring (16.6 ppg) and next-to-last in scoring defense (allowing over 37 ppg) — making it a dangerous matchup pitting Cal Poly's strengths against the Wildcats' weaknesses.
And the fact that the 'Cats have been outscored by a combined 110-12 in the first half of their first five games doesn't help their cause, either.
"We aren't making enough plays and are making too many mistakes and mental errors," said running back C.J. Tuckett, Weber's leading rusher. "You make too many mistakes and you can't win.
"We just need to come out with more energy and trust our fundamentals. We have to pick ourselves up. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to move forward."
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company