College football: Weber State leans on punter for yardage in loss to BYU
Provo • Improvements? They are still in need by the bushel for Weber State.
The Wildcats did take a step forward from their season-opening loss at Fresno State. But there is a load of work left to do.
"From the naked eye, especially in the first half, we played a lot better, especially on defense," Weber State coach Jody Sears said. "We were taking care of assignments ... playing technique was sound."
Maybe, but it was not a good sign for Weber State that punter Tony Epperson was the team's most valuable player. Even with an improved defense, WSU still trailed 21-0 at the half.
Epperson's more than 500 yards of punt yardage kept the final margin of BYU's workmanlike 45-13 victory Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium from being larger.
"He turned the field over for us," Sears said. "He was huge."
This included a scrambling left-footed kick for 30 valuable yards when a poor snap from center forced Epperson to improvise.
"I never kicked with my left foot in my life," said Epperson, adding a bit of levity to what had been a bruising afternoon.
Epperson, whose 50.7 punt average was the best single kicking day in school history, also plays safety. His big day for Weber State included a team-high 10 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery.
These achievements, like other small victories, were islands in an ocean of BYU blue.
"There's still room for improvement," said Epperson about WSU's upcoming home game against McNeese State. "It's all about preparation. We've got to come back this next week and come back better."
Weber State quarterback Mike Hoke was pounded without letup, sacked six times and could manage only 91 yards through the air.
"They don't play a ton of man [defense]," Sears said of BYU's pressure. "They play a lot of zone, and they're very disciplined in the zones. You couple that with a good, strong pass rush and you're going to get sacks."
The Wildcats' ground attack did improve from a week earlier, with C.J. Tuckett and Josh Booker combining for 144 yards.
However, the Wildcats should expect some intense film and practice sessions this next week.
"These first two games can't define our season," Sears said. "We've got to keep grinding, keep moving forward."
• Weber State punter/safety Tony Epperson set a single-season team mark with his 50.7 punting average. He also intercepts a pass, recovers a fumble and nets a team-high 10 tackles.
• WSU runners C.J. Tuckett and Josh Booker combine for 144 yards. Booker also scores the Wildcats' first touchdown.
• BYU sacks WSU quarterback Mike Hoke six times for a loss of 40 yards.