Wildcat senior quarterback Jeff Carlson reads the preseason football magazines. "I see a lot of good football players," he says, "and it's hard to believe I'm in the top 10." Weber Coach Mike Price has said Carlson's among the best in the country at any collegiate level because pro scouts have said that to him.
"But," adds a humbled Carlson, back for his second season at the Wildcat controls, "I'm going to go out and try to prove I'm No. 1."That may be impossible. Even two returning Big Sky Conference quarterbacks ranked above Carlson last season. And the Wildcats won't throw nearly as much as Idaho or Northern Arizona, not with 1,000-yard runner Fine Unga in the backfield.
But Carlson may be able to counter with what he calls a better Wildcat team than the one he helped guide to 10-3 last season.
"We have the potential to be better - in statistics, scoring more points, and the defense can possibly be better. Right now, we're a little thin, as far as depth, and have question marks in certain areas."
Carlson expects the 'Cats to start the season at a higher level than they did last year, although they may very well lose their first game - Sept. 10 at Western Athletic Conference power UTEP.
"From my eyes, we're going to be quite a bit better," Carlson says of the 'Cats' expectations early this season. "Last year, it was my first college start and experience is everything." He notes that others like Unga and wide receiver Wade Orton and virtually all players manning the skilled positions are experienced.
Running the first team for the second season, he's more familiar and forceful than last season. "I wouldn't say it's my team," Carlson said, "but I feel I can be more of a coach on the field. I have more confidence, knowing how they want things to be done."
And knowing how much Unga and backfield mate Willie McDonald can accomplish helps Carlson curb his appetite for passing. "I'm a quarterback," Carlson smiles. "I'd love to throw as many times as I stepped up to the line, but the running opens up the passing game."
Carlson admits he's suddenly thinking seriously about a pro career and has noticed that the NFL teams seem to give draftees the opportunity to show what they can do. If that's not his future, he'll graduate as a communications/broadcasting major in the spring and hope for work in television.
Meanwhile, the added exposure his new status has brought hasn't done much except provide joke material for his teammates to josh him with. He sends the clippings home to California to his mother, and she puts them in a scrapbook, and he forgets about it. "I don't think it's pressure," he says, "now."
Carlson has already completed his first goal for this season. Wildcat two-a-day practices ended Wednesday, and he was still standing Thursday morning. Carlson, who redshirted a year, was proud of himself for getting through two-a-days for a fifth, and last, season.
WEBER NOTES - The Wildcats have gotten through double-session practices and their first real scrimmage Wednesday night without major injuries. However, sophomore linebacker Troy Juergens, who played in all 13 games last season, will undergo an arthroscopic examination this week for a recurring knee problem and could be out some time. That's the one position where the 'Cats are thin in experience, and Juergens was one of the top two candidates.