Can Weber State University go 3-0 to start the season? Is the Wildcat defense for real? Will attendance finally reach the magical 14,000 mark?
Those are just a few of the questions that head coach Dave Arslanian hopes to see answered with a resounding "yes" tonight as the 'Cats open Big Sky play against the 2-0 Montana State Bobcats.And, if a clash between unbeatens isn't enough to pique fan interest, there is a little added intrigue to the matchup. Montana State will be led by quarterback Brock Spencer, a former prep standout at nearby Clearfield High. Spencer left Brigham Young University two years ago, taking over as the Bobcat signal caller in mid-season last year.
Pardon Arslanian if he seems less than excited by Spencer's visit. As far as he's concerned, it's four years late.
"We were very interested in Brock coming out of high school, but we couldn't even get him to visit the campus," Arslanian recalled.
And why didn't the Wildcats go after Spencer on the rebound from BYU?
"At that time we had made our commitments and we thought we were pretty well set with a quarterback named Brad Otton," said Arslanian.
But, that was then and this is now. Otton has departed the financially beleaguered Wildcat program for greener pastures at Southern Cal and the quarterback role is now in the hands of junior Bryan Martin.
And while Arslanian is diplomatic while discussing the "hometown" kid who got away, he's also pragmatic. The only open arms he's offering belong to a swarming Wildcat "D" that obliterated NAIA Montana Tech last week, limiting the Orediggers to 82 yards total offense.
Arslanian also hopes last week's 674 yard outing is a sign that the Wildcat offense is also hitting stride. Martin threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns while senior backup Rob Westervelt notched 166 yards and two touchdowns as Weber rolled to a 47-7 rout. The ground game was equally impressive as junior running back Larry Rogers staked his claim to a starting slot with 127 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries. In two games this year, Rogers has ripped off scoring jaunts of 54 and 41 yards. "When I get to the corner, I just feel like nobody can catch me," Rogers said following the Montana Tech game.
And while the 'Cats have been scoring on the field, they have also made inroads in the bleachers. While there are some who are saying the announced attendance figures of 12,063 and 12,658 for the first two games have been inflated by an athletic department fighting to keep the football program alive, there is no question that the number of people sitting in the stands those two nights are among the biggest crowds at Wildcat Stadium in recent years. Weber hasn't had back-to-back crowds exceeding 10,000 since 1987.
A Weber win could be pivotal for the Wildcats who go on the road for four games starting next week including conference games against Eastern Washington and Boise State. Weber won't be back in Ogden until Oct. 22 when the Wildcats host the University of Montana in the school's homecoming encounter.