Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western's 2018 football opponents.
For the fifth game of the season, we'll look at the projected conference preseason #1 Samford Bulldogs. The Cats travel to Homewood, AL for what will be the second straight road game for the Cats.
Since Samford joined the Southern Conference in 2008, Western is 2-8 against the Bulldogs after last season's four-point upset win over the #17 nationally ranked Dogs in Cullowhee.
When: Saturday, September 23 - Time 3:30 pm ET
Where: E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Bob Waters Field, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: SoCon Digital Network / ESPN3
Games that will be played by the Dogs this season prior to the WCU contest: (3) KSU (home); West Alabama (Div II) (home), Georgia @ Athens, GA
The Series: The Cats are 2-12 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 1-5 against the Dogs in Cullowhee, and 1-7 in games played in Birmingham.
Last game played vs. Samford: (10-22-16) Western Carolina Football Falls at No. 20 Samford, 30-17 - Karel Hamilton recorded 16 receptions for a game-high 208 yards and two receiving touchdowns to highlight a strong passing performance by No. 20 Samford as the Bulldogs handed Western Carolina a 30-17 defeat Saturday night in Southern Conference action at Seibert Stadium
Chris Hatcher. Hatcher was named Samford’s 36th head football coach on Dec. 11, 2014. His career record is 121-57 in 15 years as a college head coach at Murray State, Georgia Southern and Valdosta State. Hatcher served as the head coach at Murray State since 2010.and had five seasons with the Racers, Hatcher’s teams employ the high-powered “Hatch Attack”. Hatcher came to Samford after serving as the head coach at Murray State University from 2010 to 2014. In five seasons as the head coach of the Racers, Hatcher’s teams employed the high-powered “Hatch Attack” offense to top the Division I-FCS football charts. In 2014, the Racers ranked second in the nation in passing offense, averaging 327.2 yards per game. The team also ranked 15th in total offense at 468.3 yards per contest.
Last Season's Record (Samford): 7-5 overall, 5-0 home, 2-5 away (5-3 SoCon)
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 5 / 6
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 7 / 4
Specialist - Returning/Lost: 5 / 1
Lost from 2-Deep Roster - 17
Offensive Formation: Multiple
Defensive Formation: 4-3
Key losses: Emmanuel Obajimi, Devon Schmitt, Karel Hamilton, LG Armando Bonheur, C Gordon Crozier, RG Royus Amos, NG Jared Holloway, DE Roosevelt Donaldson, LB Tonne Osaigbond, FS Jamerson Blount,
Top returnees: Devlin Hodges, last season's SoCon POY, LB Shaheed Salmon, CB Omari Williams, DL Ahmad Gooden
The Samford football team has been highly ranked in 2017 preseason polls by several publications and websites. SouthernPigskin.com has Samford ranked the highest of any preseason poll, placing the Bulldogs 9th in the nation. Athlon Sports places Samford 18th, while the Dogs are ranked 20th in Street and Smith's preseason poll. Samford returns five starters on offense and seven starters on defense from the 2016 squad.
Last year's team posted a record of 7-5 overall and 5-3 in Southern Conference games, marking Samford's sixth-straight winning season. Among the returning starters are first-team All-SoCon honorees quarterback Devlin Hodges (Off. POY), linebacker Shaheed Salmon, cornerback Omari Williams and defensive lineman Ahmad Gooden.
In preseason honors, Samford junior quarterback Devlin Hodges was named the Southern Conference's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Hodges was joined on the first team by wide receiver Kelvin McKnight, defensive lineman Ahmad Gooden, linebacker Shaheed Salmon and defensive back Omari Williams. Punter Austin Barnard was named to the second team.
As a team, Samford was picked to finish third in both the coaches poll and media poll. Wofford was picked first and The Citadel second in both polls. Samford earned three first-place votes in the media poll.
2016 Samford Statistics
Rushing Offense: 1161 yards
Yards per game: 97
Yards per rush: 3.6 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 66
TDs rushing: 13
Passing Offense: 4193 yards or 349 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 181
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 386-546-8
TDs Passing: 38
Total Offense: 5354 yards or 446 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 14 - 7
3d Down Conversions: 59 of 168
4th Down Conversions: 9 of 14
Field goal attempts: 12 - 17
PAT-Attempts: 53 of 54
Red Zone Scores: 46 of 51
Red Zone Touchdowns: 36 of 51
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