The University of Northern Colorado football team hits the road again, still looking for its first win. Three weeks have been unkind to the Bears in numerous ways.
In week one the Bears just missed an upset over McNeese State, missing three field goals and getting a touchdown called back due to a penalty.
The South Dakota away game in week 2 was a roller coaster, going from a close game to runaway. Last week, the Bears were finally able to hold a lead before collapsing late.
Sacramento State was the first time the Bears saw a familiar face this season and they improved greatly from last years 50-21 loss. A theme for such a turbulent start to the season could be “Improvement.”
Winning games may be harder to come by with quarterback Jacob Knipp and cornerback Marshaun Cameron both out for the season. The flip side is now the backups and underclassmen have a chance to reignite the team in their own direction.
The Weber State Wildcats hail from a scenic campus in Ogden, Utah. The ‘Cats hold an 8-1 record over the Bears since 2006.
Last season, the ‘Cats lost a nail bitter loss to the No. 2 team in the country, James Madison University, in the national semifinals.
The downsides to Weber State’s great season was the massive number of seniors lost. With so many leaders turning over, many teams can struggle to find their identity.
This inconsistency has been noticed in their first few games. A 41-10 loss to Utah is not necessarily a bad game, but a quarterback who completed only 5 of 22 passes is an offense in turmoil, and 41 points can be concerning on defense.
Week two a 24-17 win over Cal Poly is a win, although Cal Poly was a 1-10 team last year while Weber State was 11-3. Realistically this should have been a three score win for Weber State rather than a measly seven-point win.
Things became significantly more interesting and inconsistent in a big time win over South Dakota 27-10. UNC knows all too well how explosive the ‘Yotes can be, yet Weber State had the secret recipe to limit the high intensity offense.
As the Bears travel to Ogden, they have to be wondering whether they will get the impressive or the overrated Wildcats.
What to Expect
Weber State is a tougher opponent and playing on the road is always a challenge. Adding to the uncertainty is Keaton Mott’s first start at quarterback. He performed above average against Sacramento State and the Bears hope to see that plus more.
The run game was finally exciting to watch last week. Continuing forward, the offense needs to make sure the run game can be included in more than just short-yardage situations.
Defensively, Jerone Jackson stepped up in a big way with two forced fumbles, and Brooks Talkington recorded his first sack. The underclassmen did a great job stepping up, but the starters have to continue that trend.
Big Sky Week 3 Recap
Cal Poly intends to improve on last season, showing up in a big way against the Ivy League’s Brown University last week to win 44-15.
UC Davis squared off against No. 9 Stanford (FBS) minus Heisman candidate Bryce Love. The Aggies faired alright, only losing 30-10 against a national powerhouse.
Northern Arizona lost a shocker to Missouri State 40-8, giving the Bears their second win of the season. Last season MSU was only a three-win team.
Montana State went off on Wagner 47-24 behind the leadership of freshman quarterback Tucker Rovig and freshmen running back Isaiah Ifanse.
Portland State secured itself a win for the first time since the 2016 season. While it was against NAIA opponent College of Idaho, a win is a win.
Idaho State put up 23 points on FBS opponent California Golden Bears who answered with 45 points of their own.
Eastern Washington also traveled to an FBS opponent, Washington State, but they too fell to the home team 59-24.
Southern Utah tried their luck with the University of Arizona (FBS), but an impressive 31 Thunderbird points was only half of Arizona’s points ending in a 62-31 loss.
Other Important FCS games
- Sam Houston State vs. Nicholls
- Richmond vs. Stony Brook
- Sacramento State vs. Montana
The Mirror’s Keys to the Game
Pressure the QB: The defense needs to get the quarterback flustered and sacked. In week one, Weber completed just five passes due to pressure and coverage. The Bears need to emulate the Utah defense and eliminate the QB threat.
Call on the freshmen: Last week a freshman caused two fumbles and another freshman recorded UNC’s only sack of the game. If they can play well, then call on them to help the defense in starting or substitution roles.
Limit the time of possession: The defense is on the field a lot and the stamina lost could account for some of the mistakes. The Bears need to keep the defense fresh by causing turnovers or punts.
Learn the Mott System: Knipp had a very field-general style of commanding the offense in a strict and concrete way of getting things done. Mott seems more laid back and reactive to the situation at hand. This may take adjusting but moving forward is the only option.
Build the run game: The running game finally saw a day of success, so the Bears need to build on that and make it a staple in the offense, even if the pass heavy scheme stays.
Execute: This goes for all sides of the ball. Whatever the assignment, the Bears need to fulfill it to a T. If everyone does their job, they should escape Ogden with a win.