Still, none of that fazed senior middle linebacker Anthony Morales, one of the Weber State leaders and a second-team all-conference performer in 2012.
"We have a lot of new guys, but we're seeing a lot of positive attitudes," he said. "All of this preseason and what people think of us doesn't mean a damn thing to me. I'd rather be at the bottom of the barrel."
Morales acknowledged the team was surrounded by questions, but he looked to what Eastern Washington accomplished in 2011, coming from nowhere to win the FCS national championship.
Weber State is certainly young. Expect seven redshirt freshmen to see plenty of playing time, especially on the offensive line. There are questions at quarterback, where senior Jordan Adamczyk has taken just a handful of snaps. His main competition is junior college transfer Alfonso Medina, who set passing records at Santa Monica College.
Entering his second season, coach Jody Sears placed more emphasis on conditioning and building positive trust among his players. He also hired former Montana coach Robin Plfugrad as his offensive coordinator, which will change the Wildcats to a more spread look.
"If we want to be a championship contender, we need to win on the road," Sears said. "When was the last time we beat Montana in Montana, 1987? All right, if you want to keep talking about winning a championship, well here you go."
Weber State returns 16 starters, adding a half-dozen JC transfers and all of those redshirt freshmen. In addition, former All-American runner Bo Bolen returned from his LDS Church mission in December.
"We have questions all over the place," Morales said. "Guys you haven't seen yet. But I've seen them and they're good. We've got some talent. Coach Pflugrad is a genius. I'm worried about keeping up with the offense knowing how good they're going to be. We've got players, and I love how no one knows, so don't tell anybody."
When reminded that he was talking to reporters, Morales responded, "That's all right. No one reads about us anyway."
Weber State schedule
All times MT
Aug. 31 • Stephen F. Austin, 6 p.m.
Sept. 7 • at Utah, noon
Sept. 14 • at Utah State, 6 p.m.
Sept. 21 • at McNeese State, 6 p.m.
Sept. 28 • Sacramento State, 6 p.m.
Oct. 5 • at Eastern Washington, 5 p.m.
Oct. 12 • at Cal Poly,7 p.m.
Oct. 19 • Montana State, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 • at Portland State, 2 p.m.
Nov. 9 • Southern Utah, 1 p.m.
Nov. 16 • at Montana, noon
Nov. 23 • Idaho State,1 p.m.
Weber State will succeed if either Jordan Adamczyk or Alfonso Medina blossoms at quarterback, and if the redshirt freshmen step up on the offensive line and make space for offensive coordinator Robin Pflugrad's new offense.
Weber State's schedule is a killer. The Wildcats have only four home Big Sky games. WSU opens at home against typically tough Stephen F. Austin before hitting the road for Utah, Utah State and McNeese State. WSU could be 0-4 before its first Big Sky game.
Jody Sears, in his second season as coach, is still in rebuilding mode. He has a young offensive line, not much Division I experience at quarterback and only five home games. The Wildcats must have a mistake-free season to maybe reach the break-even mark.