OGDEN, Utah – Few FCS programs can say they’ve stifled Eastern Washington’s offense in recent years.
Weber State head coach and defensive coordinator Jay Hill has done it three times in the past three meetings.
After the 13th-ranked Wildcats’ 14-6 dispatching of fourth-ranked EWU on Saturday at Stewart Stadium, Hill’s unit has allowed an average of 13.3 points against the Eagles since 2015.
Making quarterbacks’ lives miserable is their business.
Filling in for injured All-American quarterback Gage Gubrud for the second straight week, Eric Barriere was often under duress, completing 19 of his 42 passes for 185 yards with two interceptions, and was sacked four times.
A year ago it was Gubrud who struggled, completing 22 of 42 passes for 239 yards and an interception in a 28-20 loss in Cheney.
The teams didn’t meet in 2016 when EWU reached the FCS semifinals, but in 2015 EWU won 14-13 in Cheney, a game in which Eagles quarterback Jordan West was 12 of 25 for a modest 121 yards.
Hill deflected praise to his players, saying they always get up for EWU.
“I think (our defense) flourishes under the challenge,” Hill said. “When you have a team that’s averaging that many yards and points a game, it gives them an opportunity to step up and they did.
“If you’re consistently in third-and-long against our defense, there’s some coverage stuff that’s hard to see, it frustrates teams.”
EWU head coach Aaron Best tipped his cap to Weber State.
“They play man, so their windows are tighter as far as getting the ball to receivers,” Best said. “They play press, they play off, they give a multitude of looks. As far as pressure, they try to confuse quarterbacks.”
Senior center Spencer Blackburn, who’s faced Weber State three times, couldn’t point to a reason why the Wildcats have had the Eagles’ number.
“I have no idea,” said Blackburn, whose line had trouble with the Wildcats’ front seven. “If I had the answer, this wouldn’t have been the outcome.”
Criner steps up
for injured safeties
With starting safeties Mitch Fettig and Tysen Prunty injured , reserve safety Calin Criner had a career-high 11 tackles for a defense that surrendered just one touchdown.
EWU’s defense has held five of its seven opponents this season to 17 points or less.
“There wasn’t a time I didn’t like a play call today,” Criner said. “(Defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding) put us in a good position to make plays.”
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