If you forget about the first half, Jerry Graybeal's version of the Wildcats got off to a nearly perfect start as Weber State rolled to an easy 38-7 win over Montana Tech to kick off the state's college football season.
A first half that saw a sloppy 30 minutes of first-game jitters end with the Wildcats finding the execution new coach Graybeal was hoping for. "I was obviously disappointed with the first half," he said. "They presented problems for us in several areas."Montana Tech came into the game not exactly expecting to pull off an upset, but the NAIA Orediggers showed exactly why they hold a No. 3 preseason ranking.
Weber State struggled to move the ball and had a hard time stopping Tech as it made the most out of using the draw play in keeping the game close. After taking a 7-2 lead on Weber, however, the Cats realized the season had actually started and that fall camp was officially over.
Weber ripped off 36 unanswered points as third-string running back Morgan Welch made a strong case for more playing time by rushing for 177 yards on 19 carries.
The game started anything but brilliantly for Welch, though.
A first-quarter fumble put him back on the bench and allowed Tomahawk Maddox a chance to get in a few reps. Welch eventually returned, and when he did he made sure Graybeal didn't have reason to sit him down again.
"I knew I made a mistake," Welch said. "When I had my chance, I just wanted to make sure I made no more mistakes." His personal best day included a 59-yard scamper down the right sideline that was cut short from a 68-yard touchdown only because Welch outran his blockers and was knocked out of bounds at the 9. Graybeal made sure that run didn't go unrewarded by calling his number later in the drive for a 2-yard score with 7:32 to play that ended the game's scoring.
Despite the large margin of victory, Graybeal said the Wildcats have plenty of areas for improvement. "I can identify a bunch of them right now," he said after the game. "But I want to wait until I see the film before I'll single anything out."
The lousy first half performance was noticed by more than just the coach. All-American Scott Shields, who put a scare into the crowd of 7,411 when he went down with a leg cramp, said the team just didn't have the focus it needed.
"I wouldn't rate it very good," Shields said. "We knew we'd be rusty."
Despite the rust and with the help of a stern talking to at halftime, the Cats came out and made sure Graybeal opened his head coaching career with a win."It's our first win," Graybeal said. "The only thing I get is it goes on my career record."
Welch was joined in the notable performances by Maddox who made his Weber State debut with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Steve Buck, and Richard Clarke snagged two touchdowns from Buck. Buck finished with 197 yards passing on 14 of 28 and four touchdowns.