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Friday, August 06, 2010

Weber State football: Wildcat QB aims to erase memories of subpar ’09 season



OGDEN — Weber State quarterback Cameron Higgins wasn't pleased with his first workout of fall camp on Friday morning.
So with the Wildcats splitting into two groups — one practicing, the other lifting weights — Higgins decided to stage his own start to two-a-days. He threw with the second practice group instead of lifting weights, firing bullets, making better reads and improving his satisfaction with the first official day of work as a senior quarterback.
"My first practice was bad," Higgins said. "I wanted to stay out and get some more work done. I needed to cut out the mistakes I was making, especially the reads — be smarter with the ball."
Higgins' poor play was news to coach Ron McBride, who had a different opinion of how his quarterback looked.
"The offense was very sharp in the 'A' practice (Higgins' first group)," McBride said.
"I don't know if he was watching me carefully," Higgins responded.
If McBride wasn't keeping a watchful eye on his superstar quarterback, it was a rare moment for Higgins in 2010. All eyes will be on him this season. Weber State fans and the rest of the Big Sky Conference are dying to know which Higgins they'll see.
Will it be the quarterback who was named the Big Sky's Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore after he threw for 4,477 yards and 36 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions in 14 games? Or will it be the guy who threw for 3,326 yards, 30 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 2009?
The Wildcats have no doubt Higgins will rebound in 2010.
"He's going to have a great season," said receiver Joe Collins. "He had an off year last year. He was pretty disappointed with his year. I feel he put in the work and effort to have a better season. This is his last year, and he wants to go out with a bang."
He'll try and go out with a bang — and with a chip on his shoulder.
Higgins would like to erase the memories of his junior season, in which he was able to lead the Wildcats to the FCS playoffs for an unprecedented second straight season. The 20 interceptions hurt Weber State, and particularly costly were the pick-sixes that gift-wrapped points to opponents.
The only person Higgins blames for the interceptions is himself.
"I got too cocky," he said. "I thought I was too good. I always went for the big play. I'm a high-risk high-reward kind of guy. That got me in trouble a lot of times. I put our defense and our whole team in a bad situation."
But he's looking to turn the negative experience into a positive.
"It humbled me and made me watch film over and over again," Higgins said. "If the throw looks too sketchy, you know, just check it down, live to fight another day. Just manage the game, that's pretty much what a quarterback's job is anyway — not to be a superstar-playmaker every single play."
Higgins, like any other quarterback, isn't a superstar-playmaker on every single play. But if all goes well this season, he'll be remembered as the best quarterback in Weber State history.
Barring injury, Higgins will become Weber State's all-time leading passer in 2010. He enters his senior season needing 2,446 passing yards and five touchdowns to move past Jamie Martin in the Wildcat record books and become the school's all-time leader. He needs 2,885 yards to become the Big Sky's all-time passing leader.
Higgins has thrown for 9,762 yards and 83 touchdowns at Weber State. He's also rushed for six scores. And how out of character were his 20 interceptions last season? He's thrown a total of 42 picks in 37 games.
Higgins is on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, given each year to the top player in the FCS.
"How could you not feel good about what he's done since he's been here?" McBride said. "First of all, he's a very smart guy and he understands what he sees. He's a good film guy, and he does a lot of that on his own. He's always watching film, trying to get better. He's pretty much a guy who works hard at his trade."

"It humbled me and made me watch film over and over again," Higgins said. "If the throw looks too sketchy, you know, just check it down, live to fight another day. Just manage the game, that's pretty much what a quarterback's job is anyway — not to be a superstar-playmaker every single play."
Higgins, like any other quarterback, isn't a superstar-playmaker on every single play. But if all goes well this season, he'll be remembered as the best quarterback in Weber State history.
Barring injury, Higgins will become Weber State's all-time leading passer in 2010. He enters his senior season needing 2,446 passing yards and five touchdowns to move past Jamie Martin in the Wildcat record books and become the school's all-time leader. He needs 2,885 yards to become the Big Sky's all-time passing leader.
Higgins has thrown for 9,762 yards and 83 touchdowns at Weber State. He's also rushed for six scores. And how out of character were his 20 interceptions last season? He's thrown a total of 42 picks in 37 games.
Higgins is on the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, given each year to the top player in the FCS.
"How could you not feel good about what he's done since he's been here?" McBride said. "First of all, he's a very smart guy and he understands what he sees. He's a good film guy, and he does a lot of that on his own. He's always watching film, trying to get better. He's pretty much a guy who works hard at his trade."

Higgins is adding to his duties by becoming more of a leader as a senior. The Wildcats have had some strong personalities on their team during their two-year run in the FCS playoffs. Higgins didn't have to say much to his teammates. He could just show up and work.
Weber State needs more from him now.
"He actually has stepped up and become more of a leader and that's what we need," Collins said. "He's our quarterback. If he leads, everybody is going to follow him. That's the person we want to follow. We need him to step up."
The Wildcats need Higgins now more than ever because they've lost a lot of talent from last year. Gone is all-time leading rusher Trevyn Smith. Gone is all-time leading receiver and seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, Tim Toone. Gone is reliable red-zone target Cody Nakamura. Gone is center Kyle Mutcher, who's currently trying to earn a job with the Buffalo Bills.
"He'll be fine," McBride said. "We got a lot of good athletes out here — (Mike) Phillips, Collins, Kamana (Kaimikaua). Some of the new guys like Austin Raught (have) all got to step up. They all know what they're doing. They all know the offense. Now it's their time."
Higgins agrees. He knows he's just one of 11 players on an offense that looks to reach new heights in 2010.
"We worked too hard in the summer to not have a big year," he said. "For us, anything less than a national championship, we're underachieving. That's the mindset we have right now."

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