Tuesday, June 12, 2018

2018 Football Preseason Preview: Gardner-Webb

Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western Carolina's 2018 football opponents.

Today we look at the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs.

In the second football game of the 2018 season and the first road game, the Catamounts travel for the second straight year to Boiling Spring, NC and Spangler Stadium.


When: Saturday, September 15 - Time TBA
Where: Spangler Stadium, Boilings Springs, NC (9,000)
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: Big South Network
The Series: The series stretches back to 1932, and the Cats lead with a 5-3 overall record.

Games that the Bulldogs will play prior to the WCU contest: Two games - Limestone (home) & NC A&T (road)

Last game played vs. GWU: (9-16-17) Newsome Scores Twice, Adams Three TD Passes in 42-27 Win at Gardner-Webb -  Running back Detrez Newsome scored two touchdowns, rushing for 146 yards to go over 3,000 for his career as Western Carolina used a strong offensive effort and timely defense to down Gardner-Webb, 42-27, Saturday night at Spangler Stadium. The Catamounts (2-1), who came in as the FCS leader in total offense, averaging 630 yards per game, finished with 435 against the Runnin' Bulldogs (1-2). Western Carolina also snapped a seven-game road losing streak, recording its first victory away from home since the season finale of 2015.

Head Coach: Carroll McCray - Gardner-Webb head coach Carroll McCray (Class of ‘83) enters his sixth season in charge of his alma mater’s football program in 2018, with sights set on continuing to construct a foundation that supports a bright future for the program going forward. McCray is in the midst of a rebuilding effort that he embarked upon in 2013, adjusting the culture quickly in his first season and instilling pride into the program for which he once played. McCray’s teams have proven to be giant slayers during his time in Boiling Springs, knocking off four teams ranked in the top-15 since 2013. In its previous eight seasons at the Division I level, Gardner-Webb had won just twice against top-25 opponents.

Last Year's Record: 1-10 overall (home 1-4, road 0-6), 0-5 Big South Conference

Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 8 / 3
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 7 / 4
Specialist - Returning/Lost:  2 / 3
Offensive Formation:  Spread
Defensive Formation:  3-4

Gardner-Webb returns 17 starters, having lost a total of 17 seniors from the 2017 season, including their all-conference quarterback, Tyrell Maxwell. The Runnin' Bulldogs return 3 QB possibilities, sophomore Jordan Smith, sophomore Jaylen Myers, and senior Brody Rollins. Rollin was the back up last season and will probably get the nod at starting. GWU brought in a 13-man recruiting class, with the highlight of the class being a three-star defensive back Malachi Buckner (6-1, 195) from Georgia powerhouse Tucker (Ga.) High. An All-DeKalb County choice, Buckner garnered more than 10 Division I scholarship offers during the course of his senior season, including five from FBS programs.

2017 Bulldog Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 2143 yards
Yards per game: 194.8
Yards per rush: 4.7 yards
TDs rushing: 11
Passing Offense: 1341 yards or 121.9 yards per game
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 121-257-12
Total Offense: 3484 yards or 316.7 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 72
Rushing 1st downs: 118
Fumbles-Lost: 8 - 5
Penalties-Yards: 45 - 406 yards
3d Down Conversions: 56 of 159 - 35%
4th Down Conversions: 12 of 19 - 63%
Red-Zone Scores: 14 of 22 (64%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns: 6 of 22 (27%)
Punts: 64 - Avg. per punt: 33.6 yds
Sacks: 13
PAT-Attempts: 21 of 21 - 100%
Field Goals-Attempts: 10 of 11

Game prediction:  Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have a 76% probability of winning (30-21)

Cats should be 2-0 after this game. 

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