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Change in work/school week paid dividends for WSU
The change was evident on the field last Saturday as Weber State pounded No. 20 Sacramento State for its first win of the season.
What might not have been obvious to the 8,362 fans in the stands at Stewart Stadium was what changed for the Wildcats at the start of the week.
“Our team was much better prepared to play than we were against Utah State,” Weber State coach Ron McBride said. “We changed some things, how we’re doing things to make sure our Mondays are more important to us. This team was completely prepared when we came out here to play.”
Weber State (1-2, 1-0 Big Sky) had been shortening practices on Mondays to work on academics.
“We had one good day of practice for Utah State – one, period – and it cost us, big time, because they kicked the hell out of us,” McBride said. “This week, we (put all the academics) on Friday. So we don’t even go out on Friday, they just go to academics. What it helped is, after Monday, our scout teams were prepared. We were totally prepared for Sac State as far as what we were going to do and why we were going to do it.”
That paid off in practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – and in Saturday’s 49-17 Big Sky win over Sacramento State.
“We had three good days of preparation for these guys,” McBride said. “It made a lot of difference. I was very frustrated the week before because we just were not well prepared to play a good football team.”
The change was needed because the Wildcats have a lot of underclassmen being asked to contribute, McBride said.
“This is a not a veteran team,” he said, “so everything they learn is something new.”
After two losses to Football Bowl Subdivision teams to start the year, getting in the win column in Weber State’s home and Big Sky Conference opener was significant, junior quarterback Mike Hoke said.
“The whole mentality of the team in the locker room changed once we got that win,” said Hoke, who threw three touchdown passes and ran for another. “It’s a lot better place to be after a game and it’s really going to help us going into next week at Northern Colorado.”
McBride wasn’t understating the importance of a win on his team’s psyche.
“It was a huge win. We had to win this game. This was a must-win situation for us because it helps the kids psychologically. It helps everything. It proves to them if they pay attention to all the details of their business they’re going to have success.”
David James’ 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Hornets was the second longest in school history.
“I said, what’s longer? They said 98 and I said, oh, they can have it,” James quipped. “I saw all green and I just kept running. I saw the linemen, the quarterback, I got to the 50 and I said it’s too far to stop now. … So I just took off.”
Freshman tailback Tanner Hinds has scored a touchdown in three straight games to start his college career. Hinds gave the credit to his offensive line as the Wildcats turned a meager 22 rushing yards at halftime into 324 yards total.
Hinds has 104 of those yards on 10 carries, including a 25-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.
“Everything was connecting and the offense just was doing their job,” Hinds said. “We kept scoring and it was awesome.”
After Hinds sat out practices last week with a sore knee, Hoke is ready to see what he can do at full strength.
“He’s a tough guy to bring down,” Hoke said. “He wasn’t even 100 percent today, so I can’t wait until he’s 100 percent.”
By Roy Burton, Standard-Examiner