Offensively, it’s all about quarterback Mike Hoke for the Wildcats. In addition to passing, he has more rushing attempts with 25 than starting tailback C.J. Tuckett, who has 22. (Associated Press).
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 6:48 PM
Jody Sears may be the unlikeliest person holding a mop to clean up the mess made by Bobby Petrino and his motorcycle mistress.
The road rash from Petrino’s April wipeout with a young woman who was not his wife stretched all the way from Fayetteville, Ark., to Ogden, Utah. A few weeks after Arkansas fired Petrino, it lured John L. Smith from Weber State as its interim head coach. The Wildcats had just hired Smith to take over their program from the retiring Ron McBride five months earlier.
Smith’s move has already ruined one program’s season. Arkansas’ hopes of competing for a national championship were nuked by last week’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe.
Sears, Weber State’s defensive coordinator and interim head coach, is in charge of making sure Smith doesn’t kill two birds with one stone. The schedule has made that just as tough as the circumstances — the Wildcats opened the season with road games at traditionally strong Football Bowl Subdivision schools Fresno State and Brigham Young.
Weber State (0-2) plays its first home game and Football Championship Subdivision opponent when McNeese State (2-0) pays a visit Saturday. Sears is also searching for his first win as a head coach.
“Obviously playing two FBS teams is a tall order, but you have to use it to get your team better and stronger,” Sears said. “Getting back to an even playing field, we’re looking forward to it. But by no means do we have a slouch coming in in McNeese State.”
Sears spent the last four seasons as the defensive coordinator at Washington State and spent the five years prior in the same role at Eastern Washington. His last win on the EWU staff came at the expense of McNeese, a 44-15 first-round playoff win to hand the Cowboys their first and lone loss of the season.
McNeese head coach Matt Viator said Weber State’s defensive schemes are more about straightforward, smashmouth play than intricate blitzes.
“It’s a typical Big Sky (defense),” Viator said. “They’re big up front. They play solid technique. They rally to the football.”
Weber State’s most versatile athlete is — wait for it — its punter. Not that he’s only a punter.
Tony Epperson, who averages 44.9 yards per punt, also happens to be the Wildcats’ starting wide safety. He is third on the team with 12 tackles and also has an interception and a fumble recovery.
“He’s probably just a hamburger shy of being an outside linebacker,” Sears said. “He’s gotten better at his overall technique and playing with good eyes. Last week he had a 50-yard (punt) average, 10 tackles, a pick, picked up a fumble and ran it a little ways. He’s kind of our Gordie Lockbaum.”
Lockbaum was the 1987 Heisman Trophy finalist from Holy Cross who played running back and quarterback.
Offensively, it’s all about quarterback Mike Hoke for the Wildcats.
In addition to passing, he has more rushing attempts (25) than starting tailback C.J. Tuckett (22). That stat is a little misleading since 10 of Hoke’s attempts are sacks, but the fact remains that Hoke is a threat in terms of mobility. Of course, many of the sacks might have to do with Weber State playing up two consecutive weeks.
“I’d probably say 60 percent of it was personnel-wise,” Sears said of the sacks taken by the Wildcats.
This week should help Sears determine how much of that estimate is true — and how much cleaning up he has left to do.