Assignment: Get aggressive defensively against an oddball, one-back, TRIPS-option opponent that gives you looks like no other Big Sky Conference football team.
Mission accomplished, for the most part, by Weber State."I've never seen an option played like they had today. Sometimes you've got to play it soft," said Wildcat defensive back Austin Peters, "and sometimes you do have to come up and play it hard. It's a lot of responsibility."
The Wildcats were up to it this week. After going all season with just one interception, they had four Saturday - and another that was called back by penalty. Peters' 28-yard touchdown run with an interception return in the third quarter gave Weber the breathing room it needed at Wildcat Stadium.
That put the 'Cats up by 12, and Jamie Martin's 1-yard run in the fourth quarter cemented Weber's 32-20 Big Sky Conference victory over Montana State Saturday night.
That gave Weber a 3-2 season record, 2-2 in the Sky. Montana State, which had beaten Idaho, the team that beat Weber last week, slipped to 2-3 and 1-2.
"They're an option team and do a good job running the option," said Weber defensive coordinator Mark Brady, "but when they try to throw the ball, they're more run blockers, so they're not able to protect the quarterback.
"When we play our best football is when we play aggressive," Brady said.
The combination resulted in some forced mistakes - a sack or two, an interception here and there; enough, at least, for Weber to overcome its own errors and inadequacies.
"We pretty much did whatever we wanted," said quarterback Jamie Martin, speaking for his offense that totaled 487 combined yards, 311 through the air.
"And then we'd make stupid mistakes. I fumbled a snap, Rick (Justice) fumbled (pass reception), we had a penalty that stopped a drive," said Martin, who led Division I-AA going into the game and did nothing to hurt his status Saturday.
"But the defense did a great job getting turnovers, and when we do that, no one can stop our offense," Martin said.
Not even Mr. Injury, who bit off Weber's top two running backs, George Jackson (possible knee strain in the first half after scoring two touchdowns and grabbing a conversion pass for Weber's first 14 points), and Geoff Mitchell (foot injury late in the game; x-rays were taken. Mitchell had a TD run that made it 20-7 for Weber, and he ran for 101 yards as the game's leading ground gainer.)
Those injuries left things for next week really iffy, especially since all-America punter/placekicker Brent Chuhaniuk is still suspended indefinitely for a violation of school and team policies. Chuhaniuk has missed two games, and there's no word on when he'll return.
Martin's late TD helped head off a possible placekicking crisis. Weber had missed two PAT kicks, and then, ahead 26-20 to start the fourth period, the Wildcats attempted a field goal that went too low to have been called blocked. "A chip shot, normally," said Coach Dave Arslanian. "Oh yeah," he said. "I was really concerned. We knew we needed points."
Luckily for Weber, a Darion Scott interception on Montana State's next drive slowed the Bobcats' momentum. Martin lost a fumbled exchange from center on the Weber drive that followed, but a Troy Juergens blitz and sack against Bobcat QB John Tetrault made Montana State punt.
Martin completed a 16-yard pass to Trevor Shaw that turned into a huge gain when Montana State drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and Martin soon had the Wildcats in the end zone again for those all-important points.
Martin, 24 for 35, spread his passes to eight receivers, hitting Justice 10 times for 71 yards, while Jon Fuller gained 81 yards on three catches, exploiting Montana State freshman defensive backs. Shaw caught four for 62 yards.