Tuesday, August 20, 2019

2019 Football Preseason Preview: #2 Alabama Crimson Tide






Here's the final team preseason preview of the 2019 season. Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold has now previewed all of Western's 2019 football opponents.

For the twelfth game of the season, the Cats end the regular season with an out-of-conference FBS opponent, and it just happens to be the #2 nationally ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Cats will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to meet the Crimson Tide for the 5th time overall. The Cats last played in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 23, 2014, in front of 101,325 fans against the then nationally ranked #1 team, Alabama.


Game #12 - Alabama Crimson Tide

When: Saturday, November 23 - Time:  TBA
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821), Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: TBA
Conference:  Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Students: 38,563
National Ranking:  Ranked #2, behind Clemson

The Series: The Cats first played at Alabama in 2004 and hold a 0-4 overall record against the Crimson Tide.

Last game played vs. Alabama:  Nov. 21, 2014 - Last game played vs. Alabama: Nov. 21, 2014 - Troy Mitchell Sets Total Yards Record in 48-14 Loss at No. 1 Alabama -  Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Junior quarterback Troy Mitchell set a Western Carolina school record for total yards in a single season, finishing with 204 combined yards on Saturday afternoon to eclipse the 3,000-yard plateau as the Catamounts closed the regular season with a 48-14 road loss at No. 1 Alabama. Mitchell, who finished the year with 3,096 total yards, delivered two first-half touchdown passes to redshirt sophomore Spearman Robinson as the Catamounts from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) played the top-ranked Crimson Tide close midway through the second quarter. Robinson's second TD reception pulled WCU to within three points at 17-14, but the Crimson Tide scored 31-unanswered points to pull away for a Homecoming victory in front of 101,325 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama running back Derrick Henry rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns on the ground while adding a third score on a nine-yard, second-quarter reception for Alabama. Quarterback Blake Sims tossed a pair of scoring strikes among his 17 completions for 222 yards to pace the Crimson Tide (10-1). Receiver Chris Black led 11 different Alabama receivers with six catches for 101 yards.

Games that will be played by the Crimson Tide this season before the WCU contest:  Alabama kicks off the 2019 season in Atlanta against the Duke Blue Devils, then return home to host New Mexico State. The Tide then hits the road to Columbus, SC to play South Carolina before returning home for a two-game stretch. Southern MIss is the first to visit Tuscaloosa, followed by Ole Miss on Sep. 28 for game #5. Alabama then travels to Texas A&M, then returns home for three additional games. Tennessee first, followed by Arkansas, then LSU visits Bryant-Denny Stadium. Next Alabama travels to Mississippi State, before hosting Western.


Head Coach:  Nick Saban  -  A man of vision who has a proven record of championship success, head coach Nick Saban has returned the University of Alabama to the top of the college football landscape with his commitment to building the total program. After the victory over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Saban joined Paul "Bear" Bryant as the only two coaches to win six national titles in the poll era of college football. Entering his 13th season in Tuscaloosa, Saban's uncompromising dedication to excellence in every phase of the program has resulted in five national championships since 2009. An eight-time National Coach of the Year, Saban has achieved resounding success as a head coach and has earned a reputation as an outstanding tactician, leader, organizer, and motivator. Those qualities have sparked impressive turnarounds at every stop of his career. Saban's consistent approach and disciplined leadership are the reasons his teams are known for exhibiting grit, determination, and resilience, often overcoming adversity to achieve victory.

Last Season's Record - 2018 (Alabama): 14-1 overall, 7-0 home, 4-0 away,  3-1 neutral, 8-0 SEC  -  In 2018, Alabama won the SEC Championship beating Georgia, then won then beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, before losing to Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Offensive Formation: Pro Style/Multiple
-2018 Offense: 45.6 ppg. (3rd in FBS)
Defensive Formation: 3-4
-2018 Defense: 18.1 ppg. (12th in FBS)
Returning Lettermen/Lost:  43 / 13
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost:  7  /  4
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:  7  /  4
Special Teams - Returning/Lost:  3 / 0

The Crimson Tide returns 17 starters and 43 lettermen for the 2019 season. The AP, STATS, and Coaches polls have all ranked Alabama at  #2 in their top 25 preseason polls, right behind the defending 2018 National Champs, Clemson.

Alabama was selected as the favorite to win the 2019 SEC Championship, and the Crimson Tide landed a league-high 19 players on the All-SEC Teams. The 12 first-teamers include six players on offense, four on defense and one specialist. The Crimson Tide's 12 first-team selections include six on offense in juniors Tua Tagovailoa (quarterback), Najee Harris (running back), Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III (wide receiver), and Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills Jr. (offensive line). The four on defense are made up of seniors Raekwon Davis (defensive line) and Trevon Diggs (defensive back) along with redshirt senior Anfernee Jennings and junior Dylan Moses (linebacker). Sophomore Jaylen Waddle rounds out the first-team selections, landing two spots on the specialist list as an all-purpose player and as a return specialist. Waddle makes another appearance on the second team (wide receiver), in addition to sophomore Patrick Surtain II and junior Xavier McKinney (defensive back). Spotting the third team for the Crimson Tide is junior LaBryan Ray (defensive line), senior Shyheim Carter (defensive back), redshirt senior Matt Womack (offensive line), and redshirt juniors Terrell Lewis (linebacker), Miller Forristall (tight end) and Deonte Brown (offensive line).

Alabama finished the year with the nation’s most efficient passing game and averaged 522 total yards and 46 points per outing. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has to stay healthy. Banged up last season with knee and ankle issues, he was knocked out of the SEC Championship against Georgia last season.

2018 Alabama Statistics
Rushing Offense: 2976 yards
Yards per game: 198,4
Yards per rush: 5.2 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 155
TDs rushing: 33
Passing Offense: 4854 yards or 392.7 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 195
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 301-438-8
TDs Passing: 52
Total Offense: 7830 yards or 515.9 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 16 - 7
3d Down Conversions: 70 of 150
4th Down Conversions: 14 of 25
Field goal attempts:  15 - 20
PAT-Attempts:  83 of 92
Red Zone Scores: 65 of 79 - 90%
Red Zone Touchdowns: 54 of 79 - 68%
On-Side Kicks:  0 - 0
Penalties-Yards:  87 - 796 - Avg. per gm 53.1
Punts-Yards: 42 - 1502 - Avg. punt: 35.8
Sacks:  45

Game prediction:  Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have a 0% probability of winning (3-59) against the Crimson Tide. According to Massey, the Cats should be 3-9 after this game.  While this will be a difficult game for Western to win, with a loss in Tuscaloosa, the Cats will end the regular season with a 9-3 overall record, and head to the playoff for the first time since 1983.


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11 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #11 Jaylin Young









It's now 11 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a wide receiver


#11 Jaylin Young

Class: Freshman

Hometown: Miami, FL

High School: Miami Central HS

Height / Weight: 6-0 / 165

Position: Wide Receiver




Prior to Western Carolina: Two-year varsity letter winner at wide receiver, transferring from Hallandale Magnet HS to Miami Central High … Caught 31 passes for 476 yards and five touchdowns as a senior finishing with 34 points scored … Played 7v7 with the South Florida Express, hauling in 10 TD passes in winning the adidas 7-on-7 National Championship … Also ran track as a prep ... High school coach was Roland Smith.

Personal: Is the son of Shamekia Pringle.











Monday, August 19, 2019

12 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #12 Tyrie Adams









It's now 12 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a quarterback


#12 Tyrie Adams


Class: Redshirt Senior

Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL

High School: Dixie M. Hollins HS

Height / Weight: 5-2 / 185

Position: Quarterback




Career: Over his first three seasons, has amassed 9,389 yards of total offense including 7,279 yards passing – second all-time at WCU, just 75 yards shy of the record – and 2,110 rushing yards, 11th in school history … Ranks sixth in SoCon history in total offensive yards gained … Has already thrown a program-record 53 career passing TDs through three seasons – ninth in the SoCon record books – and has tallied 13 career rushing scores.

2019 (Redshirt Senior): Named the Preseason Southern Conference Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Southern Conference at QB at the annual SoCon Football Media Day ... Named to the second team preseason NCAA FCS All-America team as released by HERO Sports ... Was dubbed third-team preseason All-America by STATS FCS and Phil Steele. 2018 (Redshirt Junior): Started all 11 games at quarterback … Amassed a school-record 3,423 yards of total offense last season, averaging 311.2 yards per game, a mark that ranked second in the SoCon and eighth nationally … Finished the year with 2,417 yards passing (7th-best single-season in program history) and a career-best 1,006 yards rushing to become just one of 11 quarterbacks in NCAA FCS history to record 2,000 yards passing / 1,000 yards rushing in the same season … He gave WCU its fourth-straight, 1,000-yard rusher … Averaged 219.7 passing yards per game to rank fourth in the SoCon and led the league with a 91.5 yard per game rushing average … He threw for 200-or-more yards seven times in 2018 and also ran for over 100 yards six times … Scored 60 points on the year while accounting for 26 total touchdowns – 16 passing and 10 rushing, the third-most in the SoCon … Collected Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Month in September for a third-straight season … Was a three-time Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week while twice earning weekly recognition from STATS FCS and SouthernPigskin.com … Collected his first honors after throwing for 424 yards and five touchdowns at Furman (Sept. 29), recording just the seventh, 400-yard passing game at WCU … Was again honored after amassing a career-best 545 yards of total offense at Mercer (Oct. 20), the third-most offensive production in a single-game in SoCon history … Rushed for a career-high 185 yards at Mercer … Was also recognized after tossing four TD passes in the triple-overtime loss at nationally-ranked ETSU (Oct. 27) … Appeared on the Walter Payton Award final ballot a season ago, finishing 19th in the national voting … Collected second-team All-Southern Conference honors at quarterback from both the leagues head coaches and voting media … Was dubbed a second-team All-America choice as an all-purpose back by STATS FCS and a third-team All-America as the same by HERO Sports … Named preseason second-team All-Southern Conference at quarterback by the league's head coaches ... On the national preseason watch list for both the Walter Payton Award as well as the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) National Performer of the Year.

2017 (Redshirt Sophomore): Started all 12 games at quarterback, finishing the year with 3,040 yards of total offense, just the second Catamount to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark in a single season ... Ranked second in the SoCon in total offense, averaging 253.3 yards per game ... Threw for 2,294 yards -- the ninth-best single-season in program history, while his 22 touchdown passes to set a WCU single-season record ... Eclipsed the 200-yard passing mark five times with two 300-plus passing performances ... Rushed for 746 yards and two touchdowns ... Named second-team All-Southern Conference by the league's head coaches ... Was a three-time SoCon Offensive Player of the Week selection ... Picked-up his first weekly honors of the season after tallying 377 yards of total offense including 107 on the ground and 270 through the air in the season-opener at FBS-foe, Hawai'i (Sept. 2) ... Tallied his second weekly award from the league after amassing 464 yards of total offense including a career-best 152 yards rushing and 312 passing yards in the upset win over nationally-ranked Samford (Sept. 23) ... Picked up his third weekly honor after throwing for 378 yards and three TDs against Mercer (Nov. 11) ... For a second-straight year, was named SoCon Offensive Player of the Month in September after accounting for 12 TDs, 11 through the air in the month ... Selected to the HERO Sports Sophomore All-America team ... Selected to the preseason third-team All-Southern Conference by College Sports Madness.

2016 (Redshirt Freshman): Played in all 11 of the team's games, making 10 starts at quarterback missing the first quarter at Mercer (Oct. 15) for a violation of team rules ... Passed for 2,568 yards on the season, a mark that ranked third in the SoCon and 28th nationally -- it was also the fifth-best, single-season performance in school history for a QB ... Completed 217 passes, the fourth-best single-season in WCU history ... His 233.5 passing yards per game average ranked third in the SoCon while his 135.7 passer efficiency and 266.0 total offense average ranked fourth in the league ... Tossed 15 touchdown passes, adding one on the ground in addition to a total of 358 rushing yards ... Set a school record with 510 yards of total offense including a career-best 427 yards passing and 83 rushing yards in the home win over Gardner-Webb (Sept. 10), matching a school benchmark with five passing touchdowns ... His 510 yards of total offense in a single-game also represents the fifth-best in SoCon history ... For his efforts, he garnered SoCon Offensive Player and STATS FCS National Freshman of the Week accolades following the victory over the Runnin' Bulldogs ... Threw for 343 yards and two TDs against ETSU (Sept. 17) in a game held at the Bristol Motor Speedway, while also eclipsing the 300-yard passing mark with 384 yards at Mercer (Oct. 15) ... Named the SoCon's Offensive Player of the Month in September, leading the league in passing yards (312.3 yds/gm) and total offense (369.4 yds/gm) through the first month of the season ... Named the 2016 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year by both the league's head coaches and voting media ... Selected to the SoCon All-Freshman team ... Finished fourth in voting out of 23 national finalists for the STATS FCS Jerry Rice Award given to the national freshman of the year ... Tabbed first-team Freshman All-America by HERO Sports, leading all rookie quarterbacks in passing yards ... Threw for 272 yards on 17-of-29 passing with two interceptions and a pair of touchdown passes in WCU's annual Spring Game ... Despite being in the protective gold jersey, Adams added 34 rushing yards including a scrimmage-long 22-yard rush on a scramble.

2015 (Freshman): Traveled or dressed each week, but did not see game action, taking a redshirt ... Led five scoring drives in WCU's annual Spring Game, tossing three touchdown passes ... Completed 15-of-21 passes for 146 yards and three TDs, adding 59 yards rushing on eight carries in the final spring scrimmage ... Participated in indoor track & field where he was the SoCon men's champion in the high jump, clearing 2.09-meters ... Also finished eighth in the SoCon in the long jump (6.85m), scoring points for the conference championship team ... During the outdoor season, won the SoCon high jump title after clearing 2.11m (6-11.00) while finishing fourth in the long jump ... Qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round ... Missed the school record in the high jump by a quarter of an inch in his outdoor debut at the Beynon Sports Catamount Classic after clearing 2.14m (7-00.25).

Prior to Western Carolina: Three-sport standout in high school, recruited as a football quarterback and in the high jump in track & field while also playing basketball ... Named to the Tampa Tribune's All-Pinellas County football second team as an athlete ... As a senior, threw for 2,802 yards and 30 touchdowns including a career-high -- and county record -- 598 yards and six TDs on 36-of-55 passing against Tarpon Springs, adding 109 rushing yards and another score ... Recorded 505 passing yards in a game as a senior while earning BHSN Athlete of the Week honors after throwing for 448 yards and four TDs in a win over Seminole HS ... Was a third-team Class 6-A All-State Elite team selection in 2013 ... Was named first-team All-Tampa in track & field in the high jump after finishing third at Class 3-A state meet ... Had the area's top height at 6-10 during the season.

Personal: Full name is Tyrie Andrico Adams ... Is the son of Nikki and Andrico Adams ... Has three siblings; an older sister, Ciara, and a younger brother, Anquan.

Career-Highs:
Rushes: 27, at ETSU (10/27/18)
Rushing Yards: 185, at Mercer (10/20/18)
Rushing Touchdowns: 3, NEWBERRY (9/1/18)
Pass Completions: 36, GARDNER-WEBB (9/10/16)
Pass Attempts: 47, MERCER (11/11/17)
Passing Yards: 427, GARDNER-WEBB (9/10/16)
Passing Touchdowns: 5, three times (MR: at Furman, 9/29/18)
Total Offense Yards: 545 (360 passing, 185 rushing), at Mercer (10/20/18)



Courtesy WCU Athletics Relations


Sunday, August 18, 2019

13 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #13 Ronald Kent










It's now 13 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a defensive back

#13 Ronald Kent


Class: Sophomore
Hometown: Harrisburg, PA
High School: Harrisburg HS
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 165
Position: Defensive Back

2019 (Sophomore):  Selected first-team All-Southern Conference at DB at the annual SoCon Football Media Day ... Named first-team All-SoCon by Phil Steele.
2018 (Freshman): Played in all 11 of the team’s games, making seven starts in the defensive secondary … Finished sixth on the team with 45 total tackles including 31 solo stops and five tackles for loss while also being credited with forcing a fumble … Ranked second in the Southern Conference with a team-best 12 pass break-ups – a mark that ranked the rookie tied for sixth in WCU’s single-season record books ... It was the first time a Catamount defender hit double-digit passes defended since Trey Morgan recorded 10 back in 2016 … Kent’s 12 PBUs are the most by a Catamount since Ahmed Green had 12 back in 2002 … Tallied three pass break-ups in three different games … Made his collegiate debut in the season-opener against Newberry (Sept. 1), recording four tackles … Made his first career start against VMI (Sept. 22), posting six total stops with three PBUs … Posted a career-high nine tackles in the triple-overtime thriller against nationally-ranked ETSU (Oct. 27) … Graced the watch list as a semifinalist for the Jerry Rice Award which is given annually by STATS FCS to the top freshman player … Named to the Southern Conference All-Freshman team defense by the league’s head coaches … Tagged a Freshman All-America selection by both Phil Steele and HERO Sports.
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a two-way athlete at Harrisburg High … Was a first-team defensive back on the All-State postseason team … Selected first-team PennLive defensive all-star, finishing with 27 tackles and five interceptions in the secondary … Listed as the No. 9 corner backin Pennsylvania’s 2018 recruiting class by Penn Preps through 247Sports … Caught 21 passes for 385 yards and a touchdown on offense as a senior and had 22 receptions for 287 yards and three scores as a junior … Also wrestled as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Ronald Lewis Kent Jr. … Is the son of Ronald Kent Sr.
 Career-Highs:
Tackles: 9, at ETSU (10/27/18)
Tackles for Loss: 2.0, at Gardner-Webb (9/14/18)
Pass Break-Ups: 3, three times (MR: at ETSU, 10/27/18)






Courtesy WCU Athletics Relations


Saturday, August 17, 2019

WCU conducted its second scrimmage of preseason camp

14 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #14 Mahari Stribling









It's now 15 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a wide receiver


#14 Mahari Stribling


Class: Redshirt Freshman
Hometown: Loganville, GA
High School: Grason HS
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 180
Position: Wide Receiver


2018 (Freshman): Saw action in the first three games of the season but did not record any statistics … Made his collegiate debut in the season-opener against Newberry (Sept. 1) … Remained eligible for a redshirt.

Prior to Western Carolina: Listed as a two-star recruit by both Rivals and 247Sports ... Was a listed as a top wide receiver at the Showdown ATL Regional ... Played in the Georgia Elite football all-star game ... Selected as an honorable mention All-Region 8-7A ... Played both WR and CB as a prep ... High school coach was Christian Hunnicutt.

Personal: Is the son of Sonja and Dennis Stribling ... His brother, Channing Stribling, played collegiate football at Michigan and plays for the San Francisco 49ers.









Courtesy WCU Athletics Relations


Friday, August 16, 2019

2019 Football Preseason Preview: Samford Bulldogs






Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western's 2019 football opponents.

For the eleventh game of the season, the Cats wrap up conference play with back-to-back home games, as the Bulldogs travel up the mountain to Cullowhee for the Cats final conference game of the season.

Since Samford joined the Southern Conference in 2008, Western is 3-13 against the Bulldogs after last season's beatdown of the Cats by the Dogs in Birmingham, 28-66. Revenge is in order.





Game #11 - Samford

When: Saturday, November 16 - Time  2:00 pm
Where: E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: ESPN+

The Series: The Cats are 3-13 overall against the Bulldogs since winning the first outing back in 1969. Samford owned an eleven game winning streak against Western until 2015 when the Cats broke that streak in Cullowhee with a 56-36 win over the Dogs. The Cats are 2-5 against the Dogs in Cullowhee, and 1-8 in games played in Birmingham.

Games that will be played by the Bulldogs this season before the WCU contest:  The Bulldogs will have played 10 games before their visit to Cullowhee  The Bulldogs open against Youngtown State on Aug. 24 in Montgomery, AL. The dogs then travel to Tenn. Tech and remain on the road the following week at Wofford to open their conference schedule. Samford then returns home to face Alabama A&M for the first of three home games. The Citadel visits the dogs, before the arrival of Furman in the 6th game of the season. Samford then plays at VMI before returning home for one game, as ETSU visits Homewood, then the Dogs play at Mercer before returning home for a visit by the Mocs of Chattanooga.

Last game played vs. Samford: Oct. 6, 2018 - EARLY TURNOVERS PROVE COSTLY IN ROAD LOSS AT SAMFORD, 66-28  - Birmingham, Ala. – Three lost fumbles in the first quarter by Western Carolina aided a strong offensive output by Samford on Saturday afternoon as the Bulldogs claimed a 66-28 victory over the Catamounts at Seibert Stadium. Samford cashed in the early takeaways that came on three of WCU’s first four possessions for a decisive 35-0 first-quarter lead in halting a four-game slide with the victory. Samford’s Devlin Hodges – the SoCon preseason Offensive Player of the Year – set or tied six school records and a pair of SoCon benchmarks in the win. Hodges set or tied school records for passing yards (562), total yards (586), touchdown passes (6), touchdowns responsible for (7), completions (44) and consecutive games with a touchdown pass. He set SoCon records for passing yards (562) and total yards in a single-game (586).


Head Coach: Chris Hatcher.  Chris Hatcher was named Samford’s 36th head football coach on Dec. 11, 2014. Now entering his fourth season at Samford, Hatcher boasts a career record of 140-72 in 18 years as a college head coach, having previously coached at Murray State, Georgia Southern, and Valdosta State. Hatcher's 2018 team posted the program's eighth-straight winning season, the longest streak in program history. Also during the season, quarterback Devlin Hodges became the FCS' all-time leader in career passing yards. Hodges also earned the highest individual honor at the FCS level, winning the Walter Payton Award. In 2017, Hatcher led the team to a 7-5 record and a spot in the NCAA Division I-FCS Playoffs. The 7-5 record marked the program’s sixth-straight winning season, the longest streak in program history. Under Hatcher’s tutelage, Hodges set school records for single-season completions (375), attempts (530), passing yards (4,088) and touchdown passes (36). Hodges was named the SoCon’s Offensive Player of the Year and a third-team All-American after the season.

Last Season's Record - 2018 (Samford): 6-5 overall, 4-1 home, 2-4 away,  5-3 SoCon  -  In 2018, the Bulldogs had wins over,  Shorter, WCU, VMI, Furman, Wofford, & ETSU.  Samford beat all three teams that tied for first place.

Offensive Formation: Multiple
-2018 Offense: 38.5 ppg. (9th in FCS)
Defensive Formation: 4-3
-2018 Defense: 26.4 ppg. (48th in FCS)
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost:  7  /  4
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:  6  /  5

Samford was picked to finish sixth in the league by both the coaches and media for the 2019 season and had four players named to the preseason All-SoCon teams. Offensive lineman Nick Nixon and place-kicker Mitchell Fineran were named to the first team, while defensive linemen Justin Foster and Nelson Jordan earned second-team honors.

Gone is Devlin Hodges, the 2018 Walter Payton Award winner, gone is his #1 pass target, Kelvin McKnight, and gone is last year's defensive All-American, Ahmad Gooden....... and that probably changes everything.

The Bulldogs play Youngstown State in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff game at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama on Aug. 24 and this game should tell us plenty about the 2019 Bulldogs, have they reloaded or are they seriously rebuilding?. While both teams are in what is normally considered a rebuilding cycle, the Penguins are a tough opponent for Samford to play kicking off the season.


2018 Samford Statistics
Rushing Offense: 1355 yards
Yards per game: 123.2
Yards per rush: 4.2 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 79
TDs rushing: 20
Passing Offense: 4320 yards or 392.7 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 200
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 394-561-16
TDs Passing: 34
Total Offense: 5675 yards or 515.9 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 12 - 7
3d Down Conversions: 70 of 150
4th Down Conversions: 14 of 25
Field goal attempts:  13 - 17
PAT-Attempts:  54 of 54
Red Zone Scores: 52 of 58 - 90%
Red Zone Touchdowns: 42 of 58 - 72%
On-Side Kicks:  0 - 0
Penalties-Yards:  67 - 638 - Avg. per gm 56
Punts-Yards:35 - 1279 - Avg. punt: 36.5
Sacks:  18


Game prediction:  Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have a 25% probability of winning (31-41) against the Bulldogs. According to Massey, the Cats should be 3-8 after this game.  I'm going to disagree, Western win this home game and finish game #11 with a 9-2 overall record.


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15 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #15 Will Jones








It's now 15 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a quarterback


#15 Will Jones


Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
High School: Page HS
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 220
Position: Quarterback


2018 (Redshirt Freshman): Saw action in eight of the team’s games on the year, seeing his most extensive action at Samford (Oct. 6) … Finished the season with 403 passing yards on 33-of-59 passing with two interceptions and four touchdowns … Rushed 25 times for a combined 109 yards and one score … Completed at least two passes in five of his eight appearances … Recorded his first official carries in his collegiate debut at home against Newberry (Sept. 1) … Led his first collegiate scoring drive at Gardner-Webb (Sept. 14), tossing his first touchdown pass on a 15-yard strike to TE Owen Cosenke early in the second quarter … Scored his first career rushing TD on a 26-yard romp at Samford (Oct. 6) … Named to the 2018 Fall Academic All-Southern Conference team and to the 2018-19 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll. … Named the 2019 A-CAT-EMY Award Scholar-Athlete of the Year … Saw extensive action with the first team during WCU’s annual Spring Drills to continue to gain experience.
2017 (Freshman): Did not see game action, taking a redshirt  ... Named to the 2017-18 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll ... Rushed for two touchdowns while tossing a third to pace the Catamount offense in WCU's annual Spring Game ... Tallied scoring rushes of 24 and two yards.
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a three-year starter at quarterback at Page HS, taking over as a sophomore after an injury to the season starter ... As a senior was named the Guilford County Football All-Stars co-Offensive Player of the Year ... Was also selected HSXtra All-Area first-team ... Guided Page HS to the North Carolina 4-A state championship game in back-to-back seasons as both a junior and senior ... In his final season as a prep, completed 206-of-368 (56%) for 3,109 yards and 38 touchdowns, adding 599 yards on the ground on 97 carries and 11 TDs ... Selected to play in the 80th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas ... For his career, amassed 6,603 yards on 439-of-772 passing for 72 touchdowns while also rushing for 854 yards on 195 and 22 TDs ... Was listed as a two-star athlete by both 247Sports.com and Scout.com ... High school head coach was Kevin Gillespie ... Also played basketball as a prep, helping the Pirates to the NCHSAA Class 4-A regional semifinals.
Personal: Full name is Will Carlyle Jones ... Is the son of Bill and Kari Jones.

Career Highs:
Rushes: 8, at Samford (10/6/18)
Rushing Yards: 46, at Samford (10/6/18)
Rushing TDs: 1, at Samford (10/6/18)
Long Rush: 26 yards, at Samford (10/6/18)
Pass Completions: 22, at Samford (10/6/18)
Pass Attempts: 41, at Samford (10/6/18)
Passing Yards: 235, at Samford (10/6/18)
Passing TDs: 2, at Samford (10/6/18)
Longest Completion: 29 yards, CHATTANOOGA (Oct. 13)






Courtesy WCU Athletics Relations

Thursday, August 15, 2019

16 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #16 Bubba Williamson









It's now 16 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a quarterback 


#16 Bubba Williamson




Class: Redshirt Freshman
Hometown: Kershaw, NC
High School: North Central HS
Height / Weight: 6-2 / 200
Position: Quarterback






2018 (Freshman): Did not see game action, taking a redshirt.
Prior to Western Carolina: Entered WCU in the 2018 spring semester, going through spring drills with the team ... Played both quarterback and safety as a prep, starting at QB as a freshman ... Listed as a two-star prospect by 247Sports ... Ranked 68th in the state of South Carolina Class of 2018 ... Missed bulk of his junior season to a shoulder injury, returning to throw a 10-yard TD pass before setting his sights on his senior season ... Threw for 1,065 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore ... Also played baseball as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Michael “Bubba” Williamson.




Courtesy WCU Athletics Relations






Wednesday, August 14, 2019

17 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #17 Reggie Jones










It's now 17 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a defensive back 

 #17 Reggie Jones


Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Hometown: Sharpsburg, SC
High School: East Coweta HS
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 175
Position: Defensive Back








2018 (Redshirt Freshman): Saw action in all 11 of the team’s games making 10 starts in the defensive secondary … Finished the year with 32 total tackles including 23 solo stops and one tackle for loss … Credited with three pass break-ups … Made his collegiate debut with the start in the season-opener against Newberry (Sept. 1) … Posted four-or-more tackles in the final four games of the season including a career-high five stops against The Citadel (Nov. 3) … Had a career-best four solo stops at North Carolina (Nov. 17).
2017 (Freshman): Did not see game action, taking a redshirt.
Prior to Western Carolina: Collected first team All-Region honors for 2-AAAAAAA honors ... Was also named to the 2016 Newnan Times-Herald All-County football team on the first team defense ... High school head coach was Steve Pardue ... Also ran track as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Reginald Johnathan Jones ... Is the son of Reggie Jones Sr. and Chassity Anthony.


Courtesy WCU Athletics Relations

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

18 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #18 Jaylon McMillon









It's now 18 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a defensive back 

#18 Jaylon McMillon


Class: Freshman
Hometown: Clemmons, NC
High School: North Forsyth HS
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 175
Position: Defensive Back

Prior to Western Carolina: Played cornerback and wide receiver … Two-time all-conference selection … Missed four games of his senior season … Recorded four interceptions and 15 pass break-ups as a junior … Listed as a two-star recruit by both 247Sports and Rivals.com … Was listed as the 89th top prospect in the state of North Carolina by Scout.com … Also played basketball as a prep ... High school coach was Adrian Snow … Originally verbally committed to Marshall.
Personal: Is the son of Patricia McMillon and Tarik Bey.



Monday, August 12, 2019

19 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #19 Devarius Cortner








It's now 19 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a defensive back 

#19 Devarius Cortner














Class: Senior
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn
High School: East Nashville Magnet HS
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 190
Position: Defensive Back


2018 (Junior): Played in all 11 of the team’s games on defense and special teams, making two starts in the first two games of the season at safety … Recorded 16 total tackles including 10 solo stops … Posted a career-high 11 tackles in the season-opener against Newberry (Sept. 1) with eight solo tackles.
2017 (Sophomore): Saw action in nine of the team's 12 games ... Finished the year with nine total tackles including three solo stops ... Recorded a then career-high eight tackles against FBS-foe, North Carolina (Nov. 18).
2016 (Freshman): Played in nine of the team's 11 games as a defensive reserve and on special teams ... Recorded seven total tackles on the year including two solo stops ... Tallied his first collegiate tackles in his collegiate debut in the season-opener at East Carolina (Sept. 3) ... Matched his then career-best with two solo stops at Samford (Oct. 22) ... Credited with four total tackles including one for loss in WCU's annual Spring Game ... Named to the 2016-17 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
Prior to Western Carolina: Two-way player who played quarterback in addition to defensive back ... Finished his senior season with 1,251 passing yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 185 yards and two scores ... Recorded 40 tackles on defense with four interceptions and five pass breakups at free safety ... Received the prestigious Hume Award, an honor bestowed upon the best Metro Nashville football player based on scholarship, sportsmanship, individual performance and value to his team ... Listed as a two-star athlete by both Rivals.com and 247Sports.com ... High school coach was Brian Waite.
Personal: Full name is Devarius Quantez Cortner ... His mother is the late Sherika Cortner ... His guardian is Vanessa Cortner ... Has an older sister, Doncoria, and younger cousin, Nakia Hayes.



Sunday, August 11, 2019

20 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #20 Anthony Badgett








It's now 20 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a defensive back

#20 Anthony Badgett

Pic not available



Class: Redshirt Freshman
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
High School: Southeast Guilford HS
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 210
Position: Defensive Back







Prior to Western Carolina: Joined the Catamount football team as a preferred walk-on prior to the 2018 season, participating in practice but did not see game action … Two-way player on offense and defense as a prep … Also ran track and field in high school.

Personal: Full name is Anthony Shammah Badgett … Is the son of Anita Badgett.
























Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations 


Saturday, August 10, 2019

21 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #21 Haki Bradley








It's now 21 days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, in E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC

To help pass those long summer days, and hopefully get the Catamount faithful more excited about the upcoming season, and knowledgeable of the team members, we'll continue the 100-day football countdown each day until kickoff day.

Today we'll highlight a running back

#21 Haki Bradley



Class: Redshirt Junior
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
High School: Heritage HS
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 210
Position: Running Back
Other college: Catawba College





2018 (Redshirt Sophomore): Was not eligible for competition after transferring to WCU prior to the 2018 fall semester ... Was able to practice with the team through the fall and shouldered a bulk of the workload in the offensive backfield during WCU's annual Spring Drills.

Prior to Western Carolina: Attended Catawba College out of high school as a linebacker, sitting out his freshman season in 2016 taking a redshirt ... Did not play in 2017, transferring to WCU where he took part in 2018 spring drills ... Will have to sit-out the 2018 football season due to NCAA transfer regulations ...

High School: Two-year varsity letter winner ... Rushed for 413 yards on 125 carries and three touchdowns as a senior ... Tallied 158 rushing yards as a junior on 93 touches.

Personal: Is the son of Derek and Angela Bradley























Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations 

Friday, August 9, 2019

2019 Football Preseason Preview: ETSU Bucs



       

Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western Carolina's 2019 football opponents.

For the tenth game of the season, the Cats host the Bucs of East Tennessee State University in the 2019 edition of The Blue Ridge Border Battle.

Three seasons ago, Western and the Bucs revived the series that started back in 1932, but abruptly ended in 2003 when the Bucs eliminated football.



Game #10 - ETSU Bucs


When: Saturday, November 9 at 3:30 pm
Where:  E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV / video:  Nexstar / ESPN+/3

The Series: This series stretches back to 1932, with the Cats holding a slim 24-23-1 lead. Since the return of football at ETSU, the Bucs hold a 2-1 lead going into the 2019 contest. Adding to the newfound rivalry between the two mountain teams, the Bucs pulled off a 2 point, 3 overtime win, 43-45 in the initial Blue Ridge Border Battle trophy contest held in Johnson City in 2018.

Games that will be played by the Bucs this season before the WCU contest:  (8 games) ETSU kicks off their season at home against DII, Mars Hill, then travel to Knoxville to play the Volunteers a week later.  In week three of the season, the Bucs remain on the road as they travel to Lexington, VA to meet the Keydets, then return home to host the Paladins. The Mocs then visit Johnson City for the second of three straight home games, as Big South foe Gardner-Webb visits the Bucs for game six.  After 3 home games, ETSU goes on the road for two games before Western's visit, as the Bulldogs of the Citadel host the Bucs followed by Wofford the next week in games 7 & 8.

The last game played vs. ETSU:  October 27, 2018 - Johnson City, Tenn. –  Catamounts Drop Heartbreaker at ETSU, 43-45 in 3 OT.   Redshirt junior QB Tyrie Adams became Western Carolina’s all-time touchdown pass leader on Saturday, tossing four TD passes in accounting for five total scores as the Catamounts’ upset bid against No. 25 ETSU came up two-points short, falling 45-43 in triple overtime on a rainy afternoon at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium. Needing a two-point conversion following Owen Cosenke’s second receiving score of the game, Adams was pressured off the right side on the ensuing required two-point attempt. ETSU’s Austin Gatewood chased Adams out of the pocket to the right where his contested pass attempt to Daquan Patten short-hopped at the goal line, setting off a wild celebration for the Bucs who took possession of the trophy in the inaugural “Blue Ridge Border Battle.” Adams accounted for 397 yards of total offense including a game-high 168 yards rushing and 229 yards on 20-of-29 passing on Saturday in the loss. He currently has 53 career touchdown passes, by-passing former mentor Troy Mitchell (2012-15) who held the previous school benchmark with 50. Cosenke caught six passes for 66 yards and matched a career-high with two touchdown receptions while Donnavan Spencer rushed a touchdown and 76 yards in the loss. All told, WCU’s offense rattled off 502 total yards, its fourth, 500+ yard output of the season, despite only having one first quarter possession as ETSU consumed 13 minutes of the 15-minute frame. ETSU (7-2, 5-1 SoCon) overcame a 15-point fourth quarter deficit as the Catamounts pulled ahead, 30-15, on a highlight reel, one-handed 29-yard catch by Daquan Patten from Adams with the extra point making it 30-15 with 14:20 remaining in the game. However, the Buccaneers scored 15 points over the final five minutes, forcing overtime inside the game’s final 10 seconds by scoring at the end of a 15-play drive. Herink plunged in from five-yards out to make it a one-score game at the five-minute mark before connecting with Nate Adkins from a yard out on the final play of the 15-play march before again using his legs to tack on the game-tying two-point conversion.


Head Coach: Randy Sanders - Sanders was named ETSU football head coach on Dec. 17, 2017, becoming the 18th head coach in program history. Sanders, a Morristown, Tenn. native, has spent the last 29 years coaching on the Football Bowl Subdivision level, which includes stints as offensive coordinator at Tennessee, Kentucky and most recently Florida State. Sanders was the offensive coordinator when Tennessee won the 1998 BCS National Title and the quarterbacks coach at Florida State when the Seminoles claimed the 2013 National Championship. Sanders played a part in either coaching or recruiting a pair of No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft – Peyton Manning (1998) and Jameis Winston (2015). In his 29 years of coaching, Sanders has coached in 26 bowl games and his teams hold a combined record of 258-105-2.

Last Season's Record (ETSU):  201 record -  8-4 overall,  5-1 home,  3-3 away,  6-2 SoCon.  The Bucs has conference wins over VMI, Furman, Chattanooga, the Citadel, Western Carolina, and Mercer.

Offensive Formation: Spread Option
-2018 Offense: 26.0 ppg. (75th in FCS)
Defensive Formation: 3-4
2018 Defense: 26.4 ppg. (49th in FCS)
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 27/24
Starters Returning/Lost: 14/15
Offensive Starters Returning/Lost:  4 / 7
Defensive Starters Returning/Lost:  8 / 3
Special Teams Starters Returning/Lost:  2 / 5

The 2018 defending co-champion Bucs were selected to finish third in both the SoCon coaches and media polls for the first time since rejoining the conference in 2016. ETSU placed seven players on the preseason All-SoCon teams, led by Nasir Player (Columbia, S.C.) who was tabbed as the SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in addition to being named to the first team. Joining Player on the first team is redshirt-sophomore running back Quay Holmes, redshirt-senior defensive lineman Jason Maduafokwa and junior defensive back Tyree Robinson. Tre’mond Shorts, Ben Blackmon, and Jeremy Lewis were each named to the second team.

The big question mark for the Bucs is who's going to play quarterback? With the loss of QB Austin Herink who had started for ETSU since 2015, the job is wide open, but two transfers are in the mix to fill that position. Former Miami Hurricanes Cade Weldon, & former Coastal Carolina QB Chance Thrasher will be on ETSU's roster this fall, but both transferred after spring practice, so it's difficult to tell who the top candidate is at this time.

Most of the line and key playmakers are back on the defensive side of the ball,and the secondary is clearly one of the best in in the SoCon. All four starters from last year's playoff game with Jacksonville State were underclassmen and there is depth beyond even that with players like rising senior Artevius Smith.


2018 ETSU Statistics
Rushing Offense: 1846 yards
Yards per game: 153.8
Yards per rush: 4.5 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 87
TDs rushing: 23
Passing Offense: 2482 yards or 206.8 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 6.5 yards
Passing 1st downs: 117
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 211-379-14
TDs Passing: 9
Total Offense: 4328 yards or 260.7 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 13-8
3d Down Conversions: 11 of 166 (32%)
4th Down Conversions: 10 of 16 (36%)
Field goal attempts: 19 - 23
PAT-Attempts: 33 of 33
On-side kicks: 1-1
Red Zone Scores: 44 of 49 (90%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 29 of 49 (59%)
Punts - Yards: 61 - 2377 - Avg per punt: 39


Game prediction: Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have only a 41% probability of winning (31-34) over the Bucs. I'll disagree with that prediction and the Cats pick up a win at home. According to Massey, Western Carolina should be 3-7 after this game. I'm going to disagree, and project the Cats will be at 8-2 after this game.



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