OGDEN — The Weber State Wildcats are hoping this year’s FCS Championship Playoffs will be much different from last year’s.

In the 2018 postseason, the Wildcats’ season came to an early end with a 23-18 home loss to lower-seeded Maine in the quarterfinals. This time around, Weber State is determined to finish the job and take the program to new heights.

“We’ve been in the quarterfinals twice and we’ve lost that game two years in a row, so this year it’s get past the quarterfinals and win a national championship,” said senior defensive end Jonah Williams, who was named the 2019 Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

The Wildcats (9-3) start their postseason push Saturday against Kennesaw State (11-2). The Owls advanced to face Weber State with a 28-21 victory over Wofford in the first round. The Wildcats, meanwhile, had a first-round bye, something the players and coaches say was a huge benefit.

“I think it’s huge because we have a super long season and everyone’s body is just killing them,” Williams said. “I think it’s good for just our mental health to slow down for a minute and not have to think about football and it’s good for our bodies because it’s just a long run.”

Weber State coach Jay Hill called the off-week an opportunity to “recharge the batteries,” and prepare for the playoff grind. 

“It’s an extra week of preparation and all that as far as film study goes, so that was a big deal,” said Hill.

Of course, there were some challenges to the bye week. The Wildcats spent much of the week not knowing which team they would face. Hill and his staff essentially made preparations for both Wofford and Kennesaw State by studying film of both teams. Once the Owls prevailed Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats hit the practice field in the evening to prepare for Kennesaw State’s schemes.

The Owls’ offensive system is a bit of a novelty in college football. They primarily run the triple option and have enjoyed a great deal of success, leading the nation in rushing. 

While it can be difficult to defend such a unique look, the Wildcats have seen it before. Early in the season, Weber State faced a triple-option attack against Cal Poly and defeated the Mustangs handily, 41-24.

The key to stopping the powerful, run-first offense — according to players and coaches — is physicality and personal responsibility. 

“This is ‘everybody do your job,’ everyone’s got to do their job or the quarterback will run for 80 yards on a given play or the fullback will run for 80 yards,” said Hill.

Williams is confident his team’s success against Cal Poly will translate in Saturday’s matchup. 

“We know it’s going to be a super physical game and that whoever wins that physicality battle will win the game, so that’s our mindset as a defense and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Williams. 

With the bitter taste of last season’s early exit in mind, Hill and his team are motivated to start the postseason on the right foot. According to Hill, the Wildcats are preparing at their best at the most critical point of the season.

“If this week’s practice and last week’s is any indication of where the players are at, I think the preparation has been good,” said Hill.

Wildcats on the air

Weber State (9-3)

vs. Kennesaw State (11-2)

Saturday, Dec. 7 @ 1 p.m.

TV: ESPN3

Radio: 1430 AM