Saturday, July 20, 2019

42 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #42 Jontavious Shotwell






It's now 42 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


 #42 Jontavious Shotwell














Class: Redshirt Freshman
Hometown: Hoschton, GA
High School:  Mill Creek HS 
Other College:  UNC-CH
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 175
Position Defensive Back


2018 (Freshman): Only credited with playing in one game, making his collegiate debut at Samford (Oct. 6) but did not record any statistics … Remains eligible for a redshirt.
Prior to Western Carolina: Three-year varsity letter winner in football ... Recorded 36 tackles as a senior, breaking up 11 passes with one interception ... Also forced a fumble ... Also ran track as a prep, competing in the 100 and 200-meter individual races, as well as on the 4x100-meter relay, while also competing in the high jump.






Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

Friday, July 19, 2019

2019 Football Preseason Preview: Chattanooga Mocs






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

In the Catamounts' fourth game of the 2019 season, the Cats re-enter SoCon action when they travel to Chattanooga, TN to play the Univerity of Tennessee Chattanooga Mocs

Western faces the Mocs for the 46th time on the gridiron, since 1973.








Game #3 - UT Chattanooga Mocs


When: Saturday, September 28th at 4:00 pm
Where: Finley Stadium, Chattanooga, TN
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: ESPN3 or ESPN+

The Series: In the 46th meeting between the two teams, the Cats own a 17-28 record against the Mocs.  The last time the Cats made a visit to the city of Chattanooga, they came away with a 45-7 win.

Last Game vs. Chattanooga (October 13, 2018) - Catamount Football dropped by Chattanooga 26-6. Cullowhee, N.C. – Western Carolina’s potent offensive attack was held in check by Chattanooga’s stingy defense on Saturday afternoon as the Catamounts were never able to find a rhythm in dropping their first home game of the year at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field, 26-6, to the Mocs in Southern Conference action. Chattanooga QB Nick Tiano completed 22 of 28 passes for 204 yards and two first-half touchdowns – both to WR Joseph Parker – as UTC (5-2, 3-2 SoCon) snapped its two-game seasonal slide while relegating WCU to its third-straight defeat on the year. The Mocs amassed 348 yards of total offense including 204 passing and 144 through the air while chewing-up nearly 38 minutes of game clock in scoring their fifth-straight road victory in the head-to-head series.

Last Season's Record (2018 - UTC): 6-5 overall, 3-2 home, 3-3 away, 4-4 SoCon  (wins over Tenn. Tech, the Citadel, UT Martin, WCU, VMI) - While the Mocs started the season strong in 2018 with 4 straight wins, the Mocs closed out the season losing 5 of their last 7 games including 3 straight losses to end the season.

Games that will be played by the Mocs this season prior to the WCU contest: 4 games - This is the 4d game of the young season for WCU, but the 5th for Chattanooga. UTC plays Eastern Illinois, Jacksonville State, Tennessee, and James Madison prior to the Western Carolina game. The 2019 Mocs overall schedule is projected to be the 2d toughest in the FCS, the Cats schedule comes in ranked 11th toughest in the FCS.



Head CoachRusty Wright - Rusty Wright is in his first year as head coach of the Mocs football program. He was officially introduced on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. A 22-year veteran of the collegiate coaching ranks, Wright is a 1996 graduate of UTC with a degree in Sports Administration. He was a four-year letter winner for the Mocs football team and had two stints as an assistant coach at UTC. “I am extremely excited to announce Rusty Wright as the next head coach of Chattanooga Football,” stated UTC Director of Athletics Mark Wharton. “Once again, our program, University and community attracted an outstanding candidate pool.”


Offensive Formation: Spread
-2018 Offense: 21.5 ppg. (98th in FCS)
Defensive Formation: Multiple
- 2018 Defense: 21.0 ppg. (14th in FCS)
Starters Returning/Lost: 17  /
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 9 /  2
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 6 / 5
Special Teams - Returning/Lost: 2 / 3

While the Mocs strength of schedule is projected at #2 in the FCS, the Mocs are also projected in the FCS Top 25 for 2019 by HEROSports.com (No. 19). 

The Mocs do return 17 starters from the 2018 season (9 on offense),but brand new head coach Rusty Wright is the 3d head coach in Chattanooga in the last 4 seasons.

A new HC in Charleston, combined with  an entirely new staff (new offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new safeties coach, new tight end coach, new offensive line coach, new receivers coach, new running backs coach, new special teams coordinator, and linebacker coaches) could cause problems for both the defensive and offensive units until the players adjust to a totally new staff and new offensive and defensive formations.

The good news for the Mocs on offense is all five starting linemen and the tight end are back, as is both starting RB Tyrell Price and quarterback Nick Tiano. Taiano is considered one of the top signal-callers returning in the SoCon. The Mocs offensive unit scored 21.5 ppg (9th in the SoCon & 98th in FCS), so lots of improvement is needed in offensive production, especially, the rushing yardage. The Mocs only produced 98 yards per game in 2018.

On defense, senior linebacker Marshall Cooper is the anchored, leading the team in tackles last season with 98, good enough to land him on the Southern Conference All-Second Team. The Mocs’ secondary returns experience in junior defensive backs Brandon Dowdell and Jerrell Lawson. In 2018, Dowdell three interceptions and 40 tackles while tallied 53 tackles, 4.5 of which were for loss.


2018 Mocs Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 1082 yards on 323 attempts
Yards per game: 98
Yards per rush: 3.3 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 62
TDs rushing: 11
Passing Offense: 2712 yards or 247 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 11.6 yards
Passing 1st downs: 110
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 234-379-6
TDs Passing: 16
Total Offense: 3794 yards or 344.9 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 14-8
3d Down Conversions: 58 - 149  (39%)
4th Down Conversions: 7 - 16 (44%)
Field goal attempts:13 - 21
On-side kicks: 0-1
Red Zone Scores:30 of 36  (83%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 19 of 36 (53%)
PAT:   25 - 27 (93%)

Game prediction: Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have only a 27% probability of winning (23-31) over the Mocs.

I'm going to disagree with that, as I see the Mocs coming into the game with a 1-3 record, and on a three game losing streak.  Cats win 35 - 21 over UTC and leave Chattanooga with a 3-1 overal all record.

43 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #43 Luke Hoggard










It's now 43 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 linebacker


 #43 Luke Hoggard














Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Hometown: Edenton, NC  
High School:  John Holms HS 
Other College:  UNC-CH
Height / Weight: 6-00 / 225
Position Linebacker



2018 (Redshirt Freshman): Only played in one game on special teams, suiting up against his former team at North Carolina (Nov. 17) ... Named to the 2018-19 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll.

Prior to Western Carolina: Transferred to WCU from North Carolina after attending UNC as a walk-on ... Did not see game action ...

High School: Recorded 2,341 career passing yards and 26 touchdowns through the air as a two-year starter ... Helped guide his high school team to the state championship game as a senior ... Named all-conference and all-area as a senior ... Threw for 667 yards and eight TDs while rushing for 484 yards and six TDs as a senior ... Played for the winning East All-Stars in the 2017 North Carolina Coaches Association (NCCA) East-West All-Star game, completing 4-of-7 passes for 70 yards ... Also played baseball and basketball as a prep, helping Holmes High to a baseball state championship.






Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

Thursday, July 18, 2019

44 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #44 Charles McDonough









It's now 44 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 long snapper


#44 Charles McDonough













Class: Redshirt Junior
Hometown: Kernersville, NC  
High School:  Forsyth HS
Height / Weight: 6-00 / 200
Position Long Snapper


2018 (Redshirt Sophomore): Saw action in all 11 of the team’s seasonal games as the starting long-snapper, handling center duties on field goals, PATs, and punts … Credited with a solo tackle in the 2018 season-opener against Newberry (Sept. 1) ... Named to the 2018-19 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
2017 (Redshirt Freshman): Saw action in all 12 of the team's games, starting on special teams as the long-snapper ... Credited with a solo tackle coming on the road against nationally-ranked Wofford (Oct. 7).
2016 (Freshman): Did not see game action, taking a redshirt.
Prior to Western Carolina: Played high school football at East Forsyth HS ... Attended Rubio Long Snapping Camps, presented by former UCLA specialist Chris Rubio ... Received a 4.5-star rating from the Rubio Long Snapping Camp ... His older brother, Brian, was a long-snapper ... Also played lacrosse growing up.
Personal: Is the son of Brian and Kim McDonough ... Is originally from West Virginia ... His brother, Brian, originally attended Charlotte to play football before transferring to James Madison in January 2015.






Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

45 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #45 Caleb Ferguson








It's now 45  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


#45 Caleb Ferguson













Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Hometown: Waynesville, NC  
High School:  Tuscola HS
Height / Weight: 5-11 / 195
Position: Running Back



2018 (Redshirt Freshman): Played in 10 of the team’s 11 games, each on special teams or as an offensive reserve … Rushed twice for a total of 20 yards including a career-long rush of that same distance … Both of his first career rushes came at Samford (Oct. 6)… Was the team’s starting punter in the season-opener against Newberry (Sept. 1), punting a career-high four times for 149 yards – an average of 37.2 yards per kick … Long punt of 43 yards came in the opener against Newberry … Finished with six punts for a 36.8 yards per punt average on the year – two fair catches, one touchback and one downed inside the opponent 20-yard line … Credited with a solo tackles against VMI (Sept. 22).
2017 (Freshman): Did not see game action, taking a redshirt ... Scored an 18-yard touchdown rush in WCU's annual Spring Game.
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a three-time, All-Western North Carolina football team selection ... Collected the 2016 Citizen-Times All-WNC Offensive Player of the Year accolades ... Finished as the all-time career leader at Tuscola HS with 3,999 rushing yards and 68 career touchdowns ... Scored the second-most touchdowns in North Carolina high school football (38) to go along with single-season school records for rushing yardage (1,944) and rushing TD's (35) ... Selected to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA North Carolina Football Team published by USA TODAY High School Sports ... On defense, secured 73 tackles and three interceptions ... A versatile athlete, also averaged 41.9 yards per punt as a senior ... As a junior, placed second out of more than 100 football players in the standing long jump at the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl Mid-Atlantic Super Regional combine ... Played for head coach Tommy Pursley.



Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

46 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #46 Austin Phillips




It's now 46  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 tight end



#46 Austin Phillips













Class: Senior
Hometown: Banner Elk, NC
High School:  Avery County HS
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 235
Position: Tight End


2018 (Junior): Played in all 11 games as an offensive reserve and on special teams … Used primarily as a blocking back in the run game, did haul in one pass for a touchdown against Newberry (Sept. 1), catching a pass from WR Jordan Mathis on a trick play … Credited with three tackles, all solo stops on special teams.
2017 (Sophomore): Played in all 12 of WCU's seasonal games on offense and special teams, making two starts at tight end ... Made his first career start in the road win at The Citadel (Nov. 4) ... Finished the year with five receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown ... Caught his first career pass at nationally-ranked Wofford (Oct. 7) as a part of a career-high two receptions ... Also hauled in two passes for a career-best 27 yards at Furman (Oct. 28) ... Recorded his first career touchdown pass on an eight-yard strike against Mercer (Nov. 11) ... Caught a touchdown pass from Tyrie Adams in WCU's annual Spring Game.
2016 (Freshman): Saw action in five games on the season, each coming in the final six games of the season ... Saw his most extensive action on special teams ... Did not record any season statistics.
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a three-year varsity letter winner that played fullback and linebacker at Avery County High ... Two-time 1A/2A Western Highlands All-Conference both as a junior and senior ... Rushed for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns ... Added 451 career receiving yards and five TDs ... Recorded 340 career tackles including 199 solo stops ... Recorded a pair of interceptions, forced three fumbles and recovered four during his prep career ... Also played basketball as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Jack Austin Phillips ... Is the son of Alison and John Phillips.




Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

Monday, July 15, 2019

2019 Football Preseason Preview: North Greenville Crusaders




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

In the Catamounts' third game of the 2019 season, the Cats return home to host the North Greenville University Crusaders in Cullowhee and Whitmire Stadium. 

Western faces the Crusaders for the first time on the gridiron.





Game #3 - North Greenville Crusaders


When: Saturday, September 14th at 3:30 pm
Where: E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: ESPN+ or ESPN#
The Series: This is the first meeting between the two schools on the gridiron.
Conference:  Gulf South Conference (GSC) - NCAA Div. II
Location:  Tigerville, SC
Undergraduates: 2,260

Games that will be played by the Crusaders this season prior to the WCU contest: 1 game - This is the 2d game of the young season for NGU as the Crusaders open the season at home against Newberry College on September 5th.

Last Season's Record (2018 - NGU): 4-6 overall, 2-2 home, 2-4 away, 3-4 GCC  (wins over Tusculum, Delta State, West Alabama,  Shorter)   (2019 is the second season in the GSC)


Head Coach: Jeff Farrington, who played high school football in Greer, SC, and coached for nine years at Furman University, enters his sixth season as head coach of the North Greenville University football program, leading the team to a Victory Bowl Championship in 2014, a 7-3 record in 2015, and a Quarterfinals appearance in 2016 with a 9-5 record. The Crusader mentor comes from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia where he was the Keydets’ defensive coordinator. Prior to his stint at VMI, Farrington spent a year at Mercer University in Georgia under Bobby Lamb helping to initiate the Bears’ Division I FCS program which begins play in the fall of 2013. Farrington was a defensive assistant coach for Lamb at Furman from 2002-2010 and was the Paladins’ defensive coordinator in 2010.

-------------------

The Crusaders lost 13 seniors off their 2018 team, including 4 year QB starter, Will Hunter, as well as, all-conference Wide Receiver Demajiay Rooks and all-conference defensive lineman, Seth Laughter. The Crusaders are implementing a new offense for the second time in as many seasons as Brad Robbins took over the offensive coordinating duties in the offseason.

One of the positions that took the biggest hit is the offensive line. Following the 2018 season, the front five lost three starters including left tackle Caleb Harris, right tackle Cam Stepp, and guard Guage Murphy. The battle for these positions look to be wide open. While NGU lost their longtime QB, they did sign a former 4 star QB transfer during the early signing period in Logan Byrd, of Warner Robins, Georgia. Byrd, a 6-3, 230-pound signal caller was ranked the number 15 pro-style quarterback coming out of high school in 2016 and originally signed with the University of North Carolina. Byrd threw for 3,902 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushed for another 930 yards and 15 scores while at Veterans High School. However, Byrd is not a shoo-in for the job, the decision will not be an easy one, as Byrd was taking second-team reps at times during the spring, as he learns from program veteran Donnie Baker. Baker has backed up Will Hunter for the previous three seasons and looks to take the next step.

On special teams, Justin Gravely looked consistent during the spring after battling nagging injuries in 2018. Gravely holds several kicking records for NGU and should be the team’s starting placekicker n and could also take over the punting duties after the departure of Bobby Foos.


2018 Crusaders Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 826 yards
Yards per game: 82.6
Yards per rush: 2.4 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 50
TDs rushing: 7
Passing Offense: 2486 yards or 82.6 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 7.1 yards
Passing 1st downs: 103
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 198-350-16
TDs Passing: 17
Total Offense: 3312 yards or 331.2 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 16-9
3d Down Conversions: 54 - 154
4th Down Conversions: 8 -14
Red zone scores:  22 - 32 (69%)
Res zone TDs:  16 - 32  (50%)

Game prediction: Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have only a 90% probability of winning (42-21) over the Crusaders.

I'm going to agree, the Cats and win and WCU's record after game three:  2-1

47 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #47 Joel Poinsette









It's now 47  days until the kickoff of Catamount football on Saturday, August 31, 2019, against the Mercer Bears, inE.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 kicker


#47 Joel Poinsette













Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Hometown: Greenville, SC  
High School:  St. Joseph's Catholic  HS
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 225
Position: Kicker



2018 (Sophomore): Did not see game action on WCU's special teams though was in competition for spot all season ... Eligible for a redshirt.
2017 (Freshman): Saw action in four games on the season, making his collegiate debut in the season-opener at Hawai'i (Sept. 2) ... Attempted two field goals on the season, both coming at Hawai'i ... Added 16 total kickoffs on the season, averaging 52.9 yards per kick with one touchback ... Kicked off a career-high seven times against Mercer (Nov. 11) ... Named to the 2017-18 Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll.
Prior to Western Carolina: Committed to the WCU football program as a preferred walk-on ... Handled placekicking and punting duties as a prep ... Participated in the Hammer Kicking Academy Top 40.
Personal: Is the son of Amy and Joel Poinsette.





Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations



Sunday, July 14, 2019

48 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #48 Chester Geffrard





It's now 48  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 linebacker


 #48 Chester Geffrard


Class: True Freshman
Hometown: Ocoee, FL   
High School:  Ocoee HS
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 225
Position: Linebacker


Prior to Western Carolina: Recorded 85 tackles as a senior including 20 tackles for loss with 17 sacks, forcing four fumbles … Recorded a defensive touchdown … Played for the West All-Stars in the Central Florida All-Star game. 

Personal: Full name is Chester Delvans Geffrard … Is the son of Suzette Teneus and Delicier Geffrard … Was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

Note: High school coach was Aaron Sheppard.





Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations



Saturday, July 13, 2019

49 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #49 Jacob Enns









It's now 49  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 kicker/punter



#49 Jacob Enns















Class: Redshirt Sophomore
Hometown: Tampa, FL   
High School:  Cambridge Christian Academy 
Other College:  Samford
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 165
Position: Kicker/Punter

Prior to Western Carolina: Transferred to WCU from Samford where he was a walk-on but did not see game action in 2017 before transferring to Hillsborough Community College ... Earned his associates degree at HCC … Averaged 54.3 yards per kick on 144 career kickoffs as a prep … Connected on all but two field goals during his prep career … Was the male recipient of the Spectrum Sports Scholarship in the summer of 2017.









Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations

Friday, July 12, 2019

2019 Football Preseason Preview: N.C. State Wolfpack







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

In the Catamounts' second game of the 2019 season, the Cats travel to Raleigh, NC to meet
ACC foe North Carolina State Wolfpack

Western faces the Wolfpack for the seventh time on the gridiron.






Game #2 - NC State Wolfpack


When: Saturday, September 7th at 12:30 pm
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium,  Raleigh, NC
Surface:  Natural Grass / Capacity:  57,600
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: Fox Sports South

The Series: In the 7th meeting between the two teams, the Cats own a 0-6 record against the Wolfpack.  All six games were played in Raleigh, NC

Games that will be played by the Wolfpack this season prior to the WCU contest: 1 game - This is the 2d game of the young season for both WCU and NC State, as the Wolfpack will host the ECU Pirates on August 31.

Last Game vs. NC State (September 4, 2010) - NC State downs Catamounts in Season Opener, 48-7 Raleigh, N.C. -  Redshirt junior QB Zack Jaynes led the Catamounts on a 10-play, 87-yard opening scoring drive to give Western Carolina an early 7-0 advantage, but a North Carolina State aerial assault led by quarterback Russell Wilson overwhelmed the Catamounts, handing WCU a 48-7 setback at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 56,417. "It was a disappointing game for us tonight. I thought defensively we played very poorly, missed a lot of assignments. With a veteran group, especially at the safety position, we made way too many mistakes and we just couldn't get off the field," said WCU third-year head coach Dennis Wagner during post-game interviews. "On offense, you know you put together a great drive and we did some good things in the first quarter. But we got a little proud of ourselves and didn't perform as well as we needed to from that point on. "We still have a lot of work to do. There are still 10 games left and we will be a lot better next week, I guarantee you," Wagner concluded.

Last Season's Record (2018 - NC State): 9-4 overall, 6-1 home, 3-2 away, 5-3 ACC  (wins over James Madison, Georgia St., Marshall, Virginia, Boston College, Florida St,, Louisville, UNC)


Head Coach: Dave Doeren - Dave Doeren says that his main goal as a head coach is to make sure that the young men who play for him at NC State are well prepared to chase two dreams: life with football and life without football. As he approaches his seventh season leading the Wolfpack program, the numbers show that he is accomplishing that goal. In 2018, a school-record seven players were drafted by the NFL - the highest total in the ACC and the second-highest total nationally. With six members of last year’s team invited to the 2019 NFL Combine, those numbers should be high again in this year’s draft. And Doeren’s players aren’t just prepared for the NFL. By the time the Wolfpack took the field for the 2018 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, 15 of the 18 members of last year’s senior class, plus six juniors, had already earned their NC State degrees. During his tenure, 167 members of his team have graduated and NC State’s graduation success rate for football is at an all-time high (74%) and has risen each of the past four years.




Offensive Formation: Spread
Defensive Formation: Multiple
Starters Returning/Lost: 12  /  12
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 4 / 7
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 7 / 4
Letter winners lost: 21

The Wolfpack, like the Catamounts, relied on their explosive offenses last season. Quarterback Ryan Finley and receivers Kelvin Harmon & Jakobi Meyers were the big reasons the Wolfpack went 9–4 in 2018. However, in 2019, the Wolfpack will have new co-offensive coordinators, a new quarterback, new primary running back, new starting receivers and three new starters on the offensive line.

Matthew McKay, a sophomore, finished spring with the inside track for the starting QB job. However, he attempted only eight passes last season, but he ran 13 times for 36 yards and a touchdown in five games. Whoever the starting QB turns out to be, he will have plenty of capable receivers, like junior Emeka Emezie who caught 53 passes for 616 yards with five touchdowns last season and sophomore Thayer Thomas in the slot after a strong freshman campaign last year with 34 catches. The Wolfpack will have to fill three positions on the O-line

On defense, State returns eight defensive starters, of which, five are in the secondary. Senior end James Smith-Williams tied for the team lead with six sacks and will be relied on to lead the front four. In 2018, the Wolfpack ranked No. 108 in the country in pass defense. With their new group of pass rushers, the Pack struggled to pressure the quarterback, and the secondary couldn’t hold up in 2018.

After losing 13 players to the NFL Draft over the last two-year period, NC State is in a rebuilding year.


2018 Wolfpack Statistics:
Rushing Offense: 1858 yards
Yards per game: 142.9
Yards per rush: 3.8 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 100
TDs rushing: 27
Passing Offense: 4071 yards or 313 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 12.2 yards
Passing 1st downs: 185
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 334-496-11
TDs Passing: 25
Total Offense: 5929 yards or 456.1 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 16-7
3d Down Conversions: 87 - 184  (47%)
4th Down Conversions: 10-17 (59%)
Field goal attempts: 23 - 26
On-side kicks: 0-1
Red Zone Scores: 62 of 71 (87%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 43 of 71 (61%)
PAT:   51 - 51

Game prediction: Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have only a 0% probability of winning (13-54) over the Wolfpack.

I'm going to agree that the Wolfpack will outlast the Cats and win, but in a much closer match up. Cats drop one 28-42.    Cats record after game two:  1-1



Halftime: 50 Days 'till WCU Football Kickoff - #50 Alex McConnell









It's now 50 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 another offensive lineman


#50 Alex McConnell
















Class: Redshirt Freshman
Hometown: Boone, NC  
High School:  Wataga HS 
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 285
Position: Offensive Line 



2018 (Freshman): Did not see game action, taking a redshirt.
Prior to Western Carolina: Was a two-time Northwestern 3A/4A Conference selection – once along the offensive line as a junior and along the defensive line as a senior … Was a part of a Watauga High offense that averaged 331.6 yards per game with 74 touchdowns scored while blocking for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in 2017 … On defense, recorded 44 tackles including 10.5 for loss with a pair of sacks ... High school coach was Ryan Habich … Also played basketball as a prep.
Personal: Full name is Alexander Raven McConnell … Is the son of Kim and Jim McConnell … Is a first-generation college student in his family.







Courtesy WCU Athletics Media Relations