Quarterback Bronson Barron spent much of his bye week, as football players so often do, by preparing to face Weber State’s next opponent, Eastern Washington.
But he also had a rather important engagement on Friday: He got married.
“Couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Barron said Tuesday, four days after the wedding in Orem, Utah. “Got to marry the love of my life. Not too much to complain about.”
As if Barron wasn’t already having a great year: The Weber State team he quarterbacks is 4-0 and ranked seventh in the latest FCS Stats Perform Top 25, and it is in no small part due to his play.
“He’s doing a good job of taking what’s given to him and not really trying to force too much down the field,” Weber State coach Jay Hill said of Barron. “He throws it down the field when it’s there, throws it underneath when it’s there. I really believe that the key to quarterback play is, don’t make stuff up. Don’t try to force something that’s not there.”
Through four games, Barron has completed 72 of 113 passing attempts for seven touchdowns and four interceptions. His average yards per game of 230.8 is second best in the Big Sky, and his efficiency rating (145.7) ranks fifth in the conference. Those are both improvements over his numbers last year (190 yards per game, 128.8 rating) when Barron dealt with injuries and played in just eight of the Wildcats’ 11 games.
Those yardage numbers also put Barron on a 12-game pace – one that assumes Weber makes the playoffs – that is just shy of 3,000 yards this season, a threshold no Big Sky quarterback is on pace to cross.
The last time the Big Sky didn’t have a quarterback throw for 3,000 yards was in 2006, when Northern Arizona’s Jason Murrietta led the conference with 2,827 yards in 11 games. EWU’s Jordan West barely cleared that 3,000-yard mark – by 2 yards – to lead the conference in 2015.
Though there are other Big Sky teams that at least look capable of making the kind of deep playoff run that would help a quarterback reach that 3,000-yard milestone, they don’t rely on a traditional pocket passer; rather, they have quarterbacks who like to run, too.
There’s 5-0 Montana, led by senior Lucas Johnson, who has averaged 205.4 passing yards and 38.5 rushing yards per game.
There’s 4-1 Montana State, which has relied on Sean Chambers and Tommy Mellott – when healthy – to both pass and run. Chambers leads the Big Sky with 548 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns; Mellott has 215 yards and one TD. Neither ranks among the conference’s top 12 in passing yards per game.
And then there’s 4-0 Sacramento State, which uses two quarterbacks, including senior Asher O’Hara, who has as many passing yards (273) as he has rushing yards, in which he ranks eighth in the Big Sky. Senior Jake Dunniway, the team’s primary passer, has averaged 187.5 yards through four games.
Last year, the Big Sky featured two quarterbacks who reached that 3,000-yard mark: Eastern’s Eric Barriere (5,070) and Portland State’s Davis Alexander (3,075), both of whom led pass-heavy offenses. Their replacements, Gunner Talkington (221.5 yards per game) and Dante Chachere (164.0), are not on pace to get near those numbers, although each has only played four games .
For his part, Barron isn’t being asked to win games by throwing, nor is he being asked to run: Through four games, he has just 67 rushing yards with a long gain of 18. And he is perfectly content with that.
“That’s definitely not my game,” Barron said. “I like to stay in the pocket and sling the rock. If I need to move or run, I can, but I have running backs to run the ball for me and I’m completely fine handing the ball off to Josh Davis, Damon Bankston and Dontae McMillan. I’ll definitely give the ball to them and let them run.”
That trio leads a Weber State rushing attack that is averaging 196.8 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry.
Three Big Sky QBs recognized
It was a good weekend for Big Sky quarterbacks.
Chambers (of Montana State) and Chachere (of Portland State) shared the conference’s offensive player of the week honors after leading their teams to victory on Saturday.
The junior Chambers, starting in place of the injured starter Mellott, had 203 rushing yards and 227 passing yards, both season highs. Chachere, a sophomore making his fourth career start, also set career highs with 274 passing yards and 128 rushing. Portland State plays at Eastern Washington on Oct. 29.
Chambers’ day also earned him FCS National Player of the Week honors. Idaho quarterback Gevani McCoy – who had 298 passing yards in a 55-35 victory over Northern Colorado – was named the FCS National Freshman Player of the Week.
Even before Mellott’s injury, which he suffered in a victory two weeks ago over Eastern Washington, Chambers had a role in Montana State’s offense. But that role has grown with Mellott sidelined with a head injury.
As of Monday, Mellott had not been cleared to return to practice, MSU coach Brent Vigen said.
“We have very strict protocol and we adhere to that. We want our guys to be absolutely honest and go from there,” Vigen said of the sophomore quarterback. “Once he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”
Aggies off to trying start
Against a schedule somewhat similar to that of Eastern Washington, the UC Davis Aggies are perhaps even more desperate for a victory than the Eagles are.
The Aggies dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in Big Sky play after losing 41-24 to No. 4 Montana State in a game televised nationally on ESPNU. It came one week after a 17-12 loss at Weber State, and it followed earlier losses to Cal (34-13) and 4-1 South Dakota State (24-22), the second-ranked team in the FCS.
UC Davis, which lost to SDSU in the first round of the playoffs last year, has lost seven of its past eight games dating to last year, including losses to Eastern Washington and Sacramento State to end the 2021 regular season. Both the Eagles and Hornets reached the playoffs.
The Aggies, who do not play the Eagles this season, are scheduled to play four straight games against teams that have losing records before ending the year at Idaho (3-2, 2-0 Big Sky) and at Sacramento State (4-0, 1-0). They have a bye this week before facing Northern Arizona (1-4, 0-2) on Oct. 15.
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