When the season kicks off on Sept. 3, the Weber State University football team will have many new players stepping into big roles. Perhaps no player will be watched more closely than WSU’s new starting quarterback, Mike Hoke.
Hoke will take over for Cameron Higgins, who is leaving as WSU’s career leader in passing yards with 12,274 and in touchdown passes with 98. His career Passing Efficiency Rating of 144.5 is a school record as well. While Higgins will leave a big hole in the Wildcat offense, Head Coach Ron McBride said he feels that Hoke is more than capable of taking over.
“Mike brings a great deal of leadership and presence to the quarterback position,” he said. “There won’t be any dropoff from losing Cameron. Mike has prepared himself for this moment for the past three seasons.”
Last season, Hoke saw action in two games when Higgins was sidelined with an injury. He threw for 345 yards and two touchdowns, and completed 23 of 36 passes. He also brought another threat to the field; he ran for more than 100 yards and one touchdown last year.
Hoke also shone during the spring scrimmage games, leading the Wildcat offense in three scrimmages and the Purple and White game.
In the first spring game, Hoke completed 6-10 passes for 54 yards and rushed five times for another 26 yards. In the second game, he turned in another strong performance, completing 11 of 16 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. One of the touchdowns was a 50-yard bomb to Xavian Johnson.
After the second scrimmage, McBride said he was happy with the performance of both Hoke and backup quarterback Jordan Adamczyk.
“I was pleased with the play of both quarterbacks,” he said. “They were very sharp and made good decisions. They understand what they are seeing and where to put the ball, and it helps us as a team when they are playing well.”
In the third scrimmage of the year, Hoke threw for 153 yards, and completed nine passes out of 11 attempts.
Following the third scrimmage, Hoke said that he was pleased with the team’s progress so far, and is looking forward to the upcoming season.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re making progress and we are excited with our play as a team,” Hoke said.
Hoke won’t be the only player asked to step up and fill an empty slot on the field. The team has been working over the summer on filling the holes created by players graduating. McBride said that the team has looked to their younger players to step up for the upcoming season.
“Our young players are gaining experience and contributing right now,” McBride said. “We still need to improve in areas and make some plays, but I’m glad to see our freshmen coming in and playing well this spring.”
WSU will open the season on Sept. 3, when they travel to Laramie, Wyo., to take on the FBS Division University of Wyoming Cowboys. The next week, they will head to Logan, Utah, to take on in-state rival Utah State University, before their first home game of the season on Sept. 17, when they will face Big Sky Conference rival Sacramento State University.