OGDEN — Weber State's difficult season just got a little more challenging. And coach Ron McBride is not happy about it at all.

Senior nose tackle and defensive captain Derek Johnson injured his knee in the first quarter of last week's 18-10 loss at No. 1 Montana and will miss the remainder of the season. He tore his ACL, MCL and pretty much every other connective tissue when a Montana player chop blocked him.

According to McBride, the injury is the result of a blatant cheap shot by Montana offensive lineman Cody Balogh.

"In all my years in coaching, that's the worst I've seen," McBride said. "Something that blatant and uncalled for."

The Clearfield High product was one of the most energetic and dynamic players on the team.

Johnson had 28 tackles and 1.5 sacks this year. Having already used a redshirt season and graduated from Weber State (0-4 overall, 0-2 Big Sky), Johnson will likely not play again for the Wildcats.

"It was ugly," McBride said when asked if he thought the player deserved to be suspended for the hit. "That's all I know."

Weber State trainer Joel Bass said Johnson will be in surgery next week and have months of therapy and rehab ahead of him.

"It's the worst knee injury I've seen in college football," Bass said.

He's been replaced on the two-deep by junior Bryce Scanlon, while tight end B.A. Harrell moves back to the defense at tackle after a brief stint on offense.

McBride said he received phone calls from Montana coach Bobby Hauck and the offensive line coach apologizing for the incident and injury.

BARNES ON THE MEND: When he first arrived at Weber State, Jimmy Barnes was viewed by many as the man to rescue the Wildcats.

Now, the sophomore quarterback transfer from Alabama is sidelined and may not see action for the rest of the season.

After losing his starting job during a woeful performance against Montana State, Barnes did not see playing time at Montana and is now out of action following surgery on his left knee.

Barnes injured the knee a year ago while at Alabama and this week's surgery was to clean out cartilage fragments from the ACL surgery.

McBride said Barnes would be out a week or two and be available to play later in the season.

Redshirt freshman Cameron Higgins played the entire game Saturday at Montana completing 13 of 27 passes for 133 yards.

OFFENSIVE OFFENSE: Just how bad have the Wildcats struggled? Let's take a look at the Big Sky Conference stat sheet.

Of the nine teams in the conferences, WSU ranks 8th in rushing offense (86.25 yards per game), 8th in passing offense (163.00), 9th in passing efficiency (78.3), 9th in total offense (249.25), 9th in scoring (10.25), 9th in 3rd-down conversions (17 of 63), 9th in time of possession (27:20) and 9th in turnover margin (-1.75).

HOPE ON HORIZON: Things might look up soon, though. Weber State begins a stretch of four home games in six weeks on Saturday against 1-3 Sacramento State. The Hornets will be the first WSU opponent to not be ranked.

After Sac State leaves town, the Wildcats travel to winless Northern Colorado. Wins in both games would give McBride an even 100 wins as a head coach.

Wildcats on the air

Sacramento State (1-3, 1-1 Big Sky) at Weber State (0-4, 0-2)

1:05 p.m., Stewart Stadium

TV: KJZZ Radio: 1430 AM

E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com