OGDEN Weber State's players and coach Ron McBride are saying all the right things when it comes to tonight's season-opener against NAIA school Montana-Western.
They can't just show up and win. The other team has athletes, too. They are "absolutely" approaching this like any other game.
"There's no guarantees in anything, man," McBride said. "We need to show up and play, and play the right way. We got to execute in all aspects, make sure we play hard."
That's what they're saying, but all indications are that this will simply be a showcase for the Wildcats.
Weber State will kick off one of the most anticipated seasons in the history of the program against Montana-Western at Stewart Stadium tonight at 7. The Wildcats' offense is expecting to pick up where it left off in 2007, when it averaged 47.25 points per game in its last four contests.
The defense, somewhat overshadowed by fans' enormous expectations for the offense, is looking to show that it is far from a weak link when it comes to Weber State's chances of winning the Big Sky title.
"We just need to come out and play our best no matter who we're playing," said Wildcats linebacker J.D. Folsom. "Defensively, we're going to come out and make a statement."
That shouldn't be much of a problem against the Bulldogs, who went 5-6 last season. Weber State had the same record, but it came against much tougher Football Championship Subdivision competition. The Wildcats will have the advantage in size, depth, speed and talent in tonight's game.
The Wildcats already know that, and they're focused more on themselves than they are the Bulldogs.
"It's got to be about us," Folsom said. "Just because they're in a smaller division, you can't base their ability off that. We just need to come out and play our game, and not play down to their level."
McBride has some familiarity with what Montana-Western will do on offense tonight. The Bulldogs' offensive coordinator is Pohai Lee. He is the son of Tommie Lee, who coached under McBride at Utah.
"They're real basic," McBride said. "They're sound in what they're doing. They don't screw it up. They're not going to make a lot of mistakes."
McBride said he's learned from his own mistakes when it comes to preparing his team for an opener. His practices have gotten shorter since camp ended. He wants his players to come out fresh tonight and stay healthy for what's going to be a challenging next four weeks of the season.
"The last thing you want to do is go out for an opener and your team looks tired," McBride said. "I've coached teams that were tired going into an opener. You want to make sure their legs are fresh and they've got some zip to them."Weber State's role in this game will reverse in two of the next four weeks. The Wildcats play at Hawaii on Sept. 6, and then travel to Salt Lake City for Coach Mac's "homecoming" at Utah on Sept. 27.
Weber State vs. Montana-Western
Tonight, 7 p.m.
E-mail: [email protected]