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Teams look for positives

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OGDEN — Way back in August — back before a football had been kicked off or a play called — Weber State and Eastern Washington had lofty goals.

Both teams were picked to finish the season reasonably high in the Big Sky Conference.

Now, however, the Wildcats and Eagles are both stuck in forgettable seasons and a seventh-place finish is more likely than even a third-place record.

So, what does the game which features a pair of teams that have combined for just four wins mean?

"These are two teams looking to end the season in a positive way," WSU coach Ron McBride said. "So I am sure it will become a very physical, hard-fought contest."

It will also be the first game McBride will miss in his 40-year coaching career. The second-year Weber State coach was suspended by the Big Sky for comments made following a tough 24-18 loss at Montana State last week.

The comments, while pretty mild, were still critical of the officiating, and the Big Sky's zero-tolerance policy was enforced, meaning McBride will not be in Stewart Stadium when the teams meet. Alex Gerke, a longtime McBride assistant, will coach the Wildcats today.

Eastern Washington limps into the game having lost four of its last five games and even has a 21-14 loss to Division II Central Washington hanging over its head. Clearly, both teams are hoping to find a winning formula to start building momentum for next season.

"They lost some key players on offense and we did, too," EWU coach Paul Wullf said, trying to explain the struggles both teams have had this year. "It's a combination of a lot of things. There's no real science to why things happen to determine wins and losses. I just know we had a very tough schedule with a young football team and we've missed some good opportunities to win games."

Weber State's offense has shown a few moments of improvement this year after a miserable opening to the season. Ian Pizarro appears much more comfortable at quarterback after being benched for a few games. Freshman running back Trevyn Smith has shown explosive playmaking ability but has also been limited by an inexperienced offensive line and well-coached defenses.

Giving the Wildcats a bit of optimism, though, is the fact the Eagles' defense is among the worst in the nation. Of 116 I-AA teams, EWU is 103rd, allowing more than 380 yards of offense, and gives up more than 30 points per game.

The game is the final home contest for 16 seniors at Weber State. The Wildcats will wrap up the season with road games at Northern Arizona and Idaho State.

Wildcats on the air

E. Washington (2-7, 2-4) at Weber State (2-6, 1-4)

Today, 1:05 p.m.

Stewart Stadium

TV: None

Radio: 1430 AM

E-mail: jeborn@desnews.com