Dave Arslanian isn't too unhappy about his second season at Weber State. Going 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference is certainly better than the 1-7 his first year, and the 5-6 overall is better than 3-8.
Still, records sometimes leave out a good part of a story, and in this case it's true. Replay two plays without mistakes and Weber most certainly would be two wins better than it finished.1. Against the University of Montana, Weber missed a field goal from the 8-yard line in the closing seconds, and lost 39-37.
2. Against Northern Arizona University, Weber fumbled one-yard from the end zone for what would have been the go-ahead TD, but instead lost 38-35.
Consider also that Weber will likely finish No. 1 in team offense and No. 1 or 2 in passing offense in Division 1-AA football.
Also, Jamie Martin became one of the Wildcats' most decorated quarterbacks. He finished No. 1 in both total offense and passing offense in Division 1-AA; he set five school records, including most passes attempted (428), most passes completed (256), best completion percentage (59.8 percent), best passing efficiency (143.2), most passing yards (3,700) and most yards in a single game (504); his 23 touchdowns is second best in school history; and his total passing yards is second best in the conference, second only to John Friesz's 4,401 for Idaho last year.
Suppporting him were George Jackson, fifth in all-time rushing (1,680 yards) and fourth in scoring ; Rick Justice who was third in all-time receptions (145), fourth in yards (2,036) and had the third best single season (73 catches for 880 yards); and Trevor Shaw who had the fourth best single season mark (65 catches for 879 yards).
Weber also averaged 28.1 points a game and allowed opponents 27.9; had 267 first downs to 237; had 867 total plays to 835; had 3,764 passing yards to 2,494; and had 5,432 net yards to 4,388. In rushing yards Weber finished with 1,578 to 1,894, this despite losing one of its top running backs, Geoff Mitchell, at the start of the season and a second, Jackson, for part of it.
Weber was, from start to finish, never out of it. Its biggest loss was to University of Nevada-Reno, winners of the Big Sky, and then by only 21 points - 28-7. The losing margin of the other five games ammounted to only 34 points.
The Wildcats lost to Boise State by 10 points (24-14) and to the Universtiy of Idaho by 10 points (37-27). Boise and Idaho finished tied for runner-up honors in the Big Sky.
"I'm disappointed with the overall record, but to have a team that played well in 11 of 11 games makes be feel pretty good. Last year there were games we were completely out of it. This year we were in every game. And I'd have to say this is as balanced and tough of a (Big Sky) conference as I've seen," said Arslanian.
Consensus is, and the coach agreed, that Weber got better as the season got older. It was, for example, in position at one point to best Wyoming, at one point ranked No. 18 nationally. Weber eventually lost by a respectable score, 21-12, to Wyoming.
Arslanian feels that the turning point was the Montana loss. To that point, Weber was 4-2 and causing some concern within the conference.
"We were on a high at that point," he noted. "I think we were ready to gain the mental edge . . . knowing that we could be anyone. Then we missed the field goal. It was a chip shot, really, nothing special at all. that took a lot out of us."
Weber ended up losing four in a row, the fourth to NAU on the fumble.
"Even then, we came back and played our finest games we've played all year (McNeese State, winning 27-7). No, I'm not disappointed at all. One play and we're 6-5, two and we're 7-4.
"We'll lose some good players on both offense and defense. But, we've got some good, young talent coming back. And, too, remember Martin is just a sophomore."
Weber does, in fact, lose some of its key offensive and defensive linemen to graduation - Justice, receiver; Kelvin Dexter, offensive guard; Jody Marshall, cornerback, who has started 46 games for Weber; Darion Scott, safety; Dave Palaniuk, defensive tackle; Kris Heindel, defensive end; Maurice Jackson, rover; Austin Peters, cornerback; Mike Glenn, defensive end; and Troy Juergens, linebacker and defensive captain.
Still, Arslanian isn't too unhappy with the way the season turned out.
One thing that is most encouraging, he pointed out, was that the team never let down, even after the four straight loses towards the end, and kept improving from game to game.
"There's no question," he said, "we were a better team at the end. That's encouraging for next year. I think it will carry over.
"We're not where I want to be, but we're getting better and better."