Friday, September 28, 2018

This week's Purple & Gold football picks (9-29-18)

It's week #5 in the SoCon, and time to pick this weeks' games.

This week, we have 6 games scheduled, 3 conference games and 3 non-conference games for Saturday

Saturday, 9-29-18
Mercer (2-2, 1-1 SoCon) at VMI (0-4, 0-3 SoCon) 1:30 pm  ESPN3
The Bears travel to Lexington looking for their second conference win of the season, unfortunately for Mercer, the Keydets are looking for win #1, and find it against the Bears. winning 37-35.

Western Carolina (3-0, 1-0 SoCon) at Furman (0-3, 0-1 SoCon) 2:00 pm ESPN+
The Cats travel down the mountain looking to break a 2 game slide to the Paladins. The offensive unit rolls to a 35-14 win over the struggling Paladins.

The Citadel (1-2) at Towson (2-1)   4:00 pm
The Bulldogs travel to Towson after last weeks comeback win, with hopes of remaining in the win column. The Tigers have different plans and protect the home with at 35-28 win over the dogs.

Wofford (2-1) at Gardner-Webb (1-3) 6:00 pm ESPN+
After their bye week, the Terriers travel to Boiling Springs, NC to face the runnin' dogs. Never one to make it look easy, Wofford wins a closer than expected game, 35-24. 

Samford (1-3) at Kennesaw State (3-1)  6:00 pm  ESPN3
The Bulldogs are on the road to Kennesaw to meet the #4 ranked Kennesaw State Owls. KSU is just too much for the overmatched Bulldogs, losing 35-27.

Chattanooga (4-0, 2-0 SoCon) at ETSU (3-1, 2-0 SoCon) 7:30 pm ESPN+
The Mocs are in Johnson City to meet the home standing Bucs. UTC keeps their record perfect with a big win over the Bucs, 21-17.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

WCU vs. Furman: Head-to-Head

Courtesy WCU Athletic Media Relations                                                                

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Game #4: Furman

For the fourth game of the season, the Cats are on the road to Travelers Rest, SC  to meet the Paladins in the 2018 football edition of The Battle for Purple Supremacy.

The Cats have dropped two straight to Furman and are looking to change that streak.


When: Saturday, September 29 - Time: 2:00 pm  EST
Where: Paladin Stadium, Greenville, SC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
Talent:  Play-by-Play: Gary Ayers;  Color Analyst: Daniel Hooker; Host / Producer: Jeff Bryson
TV / videoESPN+   &  CW62
Game Notes:      WCU  -        Furman     -        SoCon Weekly Release
Message Board (Furman):
The Series: The Cats are only 12-31-2 overall against the Paladins in the series.

The last game played vs. Furman:  October 28, 2017 - Catamounts Drop Homecoming Game to Furman, 28-6 - Furman's Antonio Wilcox rushed for a career-high 202 yards and a score while backfield teammate Kealand Dirks added a pair of scores and 119 yards on the ground as the Paladins rushed past No. 18/20 Western Carolina, 28-6, on a rain-soaked Homecoming Saturday at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. The win was the sixth-straight for the Paladins after starting the season at 0-3, while WCU saw its four-game home winning streak snapped. Furman moved into a tie for first place in the SoCon with an upstate rival, Wofford, while WCU slipped into a tie with Samford for third overall.

Games that the Paladins played prior to the WCU contest:   3 with a fourth game canceled.  The preseason #2 ranked Paladins opened the season in Clemson, SC with a 48-7 defeat at the hands of the Tigers, then traveled to Elon, NC only to be taken down 45-7 by the Phoenix. Game three scheduled in Traveler's Rest with Colgate was canceled due to Hurricane Florence.  Expecting to get back on the right track, the Paladins then traveled to Johnson City, TN to play the preseason 8th ranked Bucs, only to have those expectations dashed by a 2 point loss to ETSU.

Last Season's Record (Furman): 2017 - 8-5 overall, 4-1 home, 4-4 away,  6-2 SoCon  - SoCon losses were to Wofford and Samford

Offensive Formation: Multiple
Defensive Formation: 3-4
Starters returning/lost:  18  /  7
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost:   5  /  6
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:  10  /  1
Specialist - Returning/Lost:    3  /  2

Key Personnel Lost  -
Offense -  QB - P.J. Blazejowski; All-SoCon RB - Antonio Wilcox; All-SoCon TE - Andy Schumpert, All-SoCon LG - Terrell Bush, All-American C - Matthew Schmidt, SE - Logan McCarter, P - J.C. Hollingsworth, PR - Logan McCarter,

Defense -  All-SoCon Freshman LB - Reynard Ellis

This football season has been a huge disappointment for the Paladins so far and has not proceeded as they expected, with the loss to Clemson, the super beatdown by FCS opponent Elon, and a road loss to SoCon foe ETSU has the Paladins with their backs to the wall. Furman will have to win out to meet their preseason expectations of defending their SoCon title and another run at the NCAA football playoffs. This is a big game also for the Cats as well. who are looking to open the season at 4-0 for the first time since the 1960's.   In the ETSU loss, Furman went back to their senior QB, Harris Roberts. Roberts started the opener at Clemson game but played only the first three snaps. A preseason injury to his throwing hand was not yet healed. He did not play at Elon.

At the end of last season, the Paladins lost their offensive coordinator, Drew Cronic to the head coaching position at Lenior Rhyne University. Furman head coach Clay Hendrix moved asst. coach George Quarles' from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and hired Connor Shaw as the Paladins' new tight ends coach. IMO, the loss of Cronic has had a major negative impact on the Paladin offense, as well as has the loss of BJ Blazejowski.

This is Quarles first stint as an offensive coordinator, coming to Furman as a successful high school head coach in Tennessee. Other situations on the offensive side of the ball required that the Paladins to replace 6 starters due to graduation, including starting quarterback PJ Blazejowski, All-American center Matthew Schmidt, All-SoCon running back Antonio Wilcox, and All-SoCon tight end Andy Schumpert, who caught 32 passes for 652 yards and a team-leading nine touchdowns en route to earning consensus All-Southern Conference honors.  These are major losses on offense for the Paladins, and it shows this season.

The defensive side of the ball should be the Paladians strength in 2018, as they lost only one starter, but All-SoCon Freshman team LB - Reynard Ellis.  Furman was very young last season on the defensive side of the ball and finished 3d overall in scoring defense in the SoCon.

Lineup Changes: Furman’s starting lineup versus ETSU included a two players making their starting debuts, sophomore Cole Neely at center and redshirt freshman Matt Sochovka at defensive tackle. Redshirt senior Harris Roberts returned to the starting lineup against ETSU as well, completing 10-of-21 passes for 149 yards in the 29-27 loss. Roberts earned the first start of his career against Clemson on Sept. 2, but played only one series before giving way to redshirt freshman JeMar Lincoln. Nine Paladins have made their career starting debuts this season, with center Cole Neely and defensive tackle Matt Sochovka the latest to join the group last Saturday against ETSU.

2018 Furman Statistics  (3 games):
Rushing Offense: 451 yards
Yards per game: 150.3
Yards per rush: 3.1 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 30
TDs rushing: 4
Passing Offense: 262 yards or 87.3 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 12.5 yards
Passing 1st downs: 12
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 21-45-1
TDs Passing: 1
Total Offense: 713 yards or 237.7 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 10-4
3d Down Conversions: 15 of 43 (35%)
4th Down Conversions: 0 of 2 (0%)
Field goal attempts: 2 - 4
PAT-Attempts: 55 of 55 (100%)
On-side kicks: 0-1
Red Zone Scores: 7 of 9 (78%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 5 of 9 (56%)
Punts - Yards: 19 - 751 - Avg per punt: 39.5

Game prediction:  Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats only have a 30% probability of winning (28-35) over the Paladins.

My Prediction:  According to Massey, the Cats should be 3-1 after this game.  I'm going to dissagree, the Cats win the battle and are 4-0 after this game.


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Monday, September 24, 2018

2018 SoCon Football Power Rankings - (after week #4)

Welcome to Purple & Gold's 2018 SoCon Football Power Rankings.

Each Monday throughout the season, we'll release that week's Power Rankings.

Here are this week's rankings after four weeks of play (last week's ranking in parenthesis):

1.  (1)  Wofford (2-1, 2-0 SoCon)
Next:  at Gardner-Webb

2. (5)  Chattanooga (4-0, 2-0 Southern)
Next:  at ETSU

3.  (4) Western Carolina (3-0, 1-0 Southern)
Next:  at Furman

4.  (8) ETSU  (3-1, 2-0 SoCon)
Next:  Chattanooga

5.  (7) The Citadel (1-2, 1-2 SoCon)
Next:  at Towson

6.  (2) Mercer (2-2, 1-1 SoCon)
Next:  at VMI

7.  (6) Furman (0-3, 0-1 SoCon)
Next:  Western Carolina

8.  (3)  Samford (1-3,  0-2 SoCon)
Next:  at Kennesaw State

9.  (9) VMI  (0-4, 0-2 SoCon)
Next:  Mercer

Watch for Friday's SoCon picks.......

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Western Carolina improves to 3-0

WCU Players of the Game (VMI) - Adams & Clark

This week's Purple & Gold  Players of the Game against VMI are redshirt junior quarterback  Tyrie Adams and senior defensive lineman Solomon Clark  

Defensive Player of the Game:  Solomon Clark

Clark had a total of 7 tackles in the game, 6 solo and was credited with 4 sacks, costing the Keydets 40 yards. He had 5.5 "tackles for loss" totaling 43 yards.

Offensive Player of the Game:  Tyrie Adams

Adams attempted 33 passes, completing 21 for 229 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed a total of 17 carries, gaining 122 yards, and scored one touchdown.  His longest rush was 21 yards and he averaged 6.9 yards per rush.

Purple & Gold sends our congratulations to both Solomon Clark and Tyrie Adams on their selections as this week's WCU Players of the Game.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

This week's Purple & Gold football picks (9-21-18)

It's week #4 in the SoCon, and time to pick this weeks' games.

This week, we have 4 conference games for Saturday

Saturday, 9-21-18
VMI (0-3, 0-2 Southern) at Western Carolina (2-0, 0-0 Southern) 3:30 pm ESPN+
The Keydets travel to Cullowhee hoping for their first-ever win in E.L.Whitmire Stadium, and the Cats are hoping for their first 3-0 start in a football since Bob Waters' 1976 Catamount football team. The Cats pick up the victory with a 49-21 final score.

The Citadel (0-2, 0-2 Southern) at Mercer (2-1, 1-0 Southern) 4:00 pm ESPN+
The Bears are intent on picking up conference win number two, while the visiting Bulldogs will be able to do little to stop their roll.  Mercer wins at home, 24-14.

Samford (1-2, 0-1 Southern) at Chattanooga (3-0, 1-0 Southern) 7:00 pm ESPN+
Both teams need and want a win in this game. The Mocs want that 4-0 start on the season, while the Bulldogs desperately don't want to drop 2 conference games in a row.  The visitors squeak out the win, 24-21.

Furman (0-2, 0-0 Southern) at ETSU (2-1, 1-0 Southern) 7:30 pm ESPN3
The Paladins are desperate for a win in this young season, and they have their site set on the Bucs as they visit Johnson City.  The home-standing Bucs play well in the first half, but can't hang with Furman in the second.  The Paladins reel off 35 points while holding the Bucs to 10.


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Monday, September 17, 2018

2018 SoCon Football Power Rankings - (after week #3)

Welcome to Purple & Gold's 2018 SoCon Football Power Rankings.

Each Monday throughout the season, we'll release that week's Power Rankings.

Here are this week's rankings after three weeks of play (last week's ranking in parenthesis):

1.  (2)  Wofford (2-1, 2-0 SoCon)
Next:  Bye

2.  (5) Mercer (2-1, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  The Citadel

3.  (1)  Samford (1-2,  0-1 SoCon)
Next:  at Chattanooga

4.  (4) Western Carolina (2-0, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  VMI

5. (3)  Chattanooga (3-0, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  Samford

6.  (6) Furman (0-2, 0-0 SoCon)
Next:  at ETSU

7.  (7) The Citadel (0-2, 0-2 SoCon)
Next:  at Mercer

8.  (8) ETSU  (2-1, 1-0 SoCon)
Next:  Furman

9.  (9) VMI  (0-3, 0-2 SoCon)
Next:  at Western Carolina

Watch for Friday's SoCon picks.......

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Game #3: VMI

In the third game of the season, the Cats return home and move into conference play as the VMI Keydets travel to Cullowhee for Family Weekend.

The Cats have won all four games against the Keydets since their return to the Southern Conference in 2014, can we make it five in a row?


When: Saturday, September 22 - Time: 3:30 pm  EST
Where: E.J. Whitmire Stadium, Cullowhee, NC
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
 - Talent:  Play-by-Play: Gary Ayers;  Color Analyst: Greg McLamb; Host / Producer: Jeff Bryson
TV / video:  WMYA-TV, My40 & ESPN+
 - Talent:  Play-by-Play: Daniel Hooker; Color Analyst: Daniel Gibson
Game Notes:      WCU    -      VMI    -     SoCon Weekly Release
Message BoardKeydet Sportstalk
The Series: Western currently leads the series with VMI, by a 20-3 margin. The Cats and Keydets first played on the gridiron in 1978, and the Cats currently own a fourteen game winning streak over the Keydets, having swept the Keydets since their return to the Southern Conference.

Games that the Keydets played prior to the WCU contestTotal of three, current record - 0-3.  Game 1 at Toledo - The Kedyets kicked off the season with a 66-3 loss on the road. They followed that loss with a road game at Wofford, which beat the Keydets 59-14.  After two big road losses, VMI returned home for what was their best game in the young season, The Keydets hosted ETSU in their second conference game, and lost a close game to the Bucs, 24-27.  

The last Western game played against VMI:  October 21, 2017 - Four Josh Gibson Field Goals Key in 26-7 Road Win at VMI  - Quarterback Tyrie Adams threw for 195 yards and a score, and Joshua Gibson kicked four field goals to lead No. 21/19 Western Carolina past VMI 26-7 in Southern Conference action on Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium. Adams completed 20-of-33 passes, including a 29-yard scoring pass to Terryon Robinson in the second quarter that gave the Catamounts (6-2, 4-1 SoCon) the lead for good at 13-7. Robinson finished with nine catches for 91 yards and the score to lead five players with receptions.

VMI's 2017 Record (VMI):  0-11 overall, 0-5 home, 0-6 away,  0-8 SoCon

Offensive Formation: Spread
Defensive Formation: 3-4
Starters returning/lost:    14   /   8
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost:  8   /  3
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:   6   /   5
Specialist - Returning/Lost:    5    /    5

Key Personnel Lost  - QB Duncan Hodges, RB Daz Palmer,  LB Brian Lipscomb

The Keydets have replaced 6 assistant coaches over the off-season, joining the Keydets on the offensive side of the ball are Brian Sheppard (Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks), Albert Reid (Running Backs), and Penn Stephenson (Tight Ends).  Seth Payne (Defensive Line), Jeff Sejour (Outside Linebackers) and Tarron Williams (Cornerbacks) will coach on the defensive side.

Sophomore QB Reece Udinski set a VMI school record for passing attempts with 60 against last Saturday's opponent, ETSU.  He completed a career-high 27 attempts and threw for a career-high 305 yards and broke the former record of 57 set by quarterback Joey Gibson against ETSU in 2001. The last time a VMI QB threw for 300 yards was October 31, 2015, when Al Cobb threw for 370 against Wofford. His 27 completions also ties for 10th in program history for a single game. Keydet receiver Wide receiver Kris Thornton had a solid game as he set a career high with 119 receiving yards, topping his 108 in the Wofford game last season.

2018 VMI Statistics (3 games):
Rushing Offense: 803 yards
Yards per game: 48
Yards per rush: 2.0 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 16
TDs rushing: 1
Passing Offense: 745 yards or 248 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 4.6 yards
Passing 1st downs: 33
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 88-163-8
TDs Passing:  3
Total Offense: 888 yards or 296 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 3 - 2
3d Down Conversions: 17 of 52 (33%)
4th Down Conversions: 3 of 7 (43%)
Field goal attempts: 2 - 4
PAT-Attempts: 5 of 5 (100%)
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores: 6 of 7 (86%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 4 of 7 (57%)
Punts-Yards: 24 - 899 - Avg per punt: 37.5

Game prediction:  Per the Massey Ratings, the Cats have a 98% probability of winning (41-13) over the Keydets.

My prediction: Cats will be 3-0 after this game.

It has also been announced that the WCU-VMI game will be televised locally on WMYA-TV, My40 out of Asheville with an online stream also available online through ESPN+ (subscription required). Airtime of the TV broadcast is 3:30 pm ahead of the kickoff with Daniel Hooker calling play-by-play, Dan Gibson on color commentary, and Summer McMahan on the sidelines. McMahan will pull double-duty as she and her brother, Brayden, from the Mountain Faith Band will join the “Pride of the Mountains” Marching Band in performing the national anthem during Saturday’s pregame festivities.


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Friday, September 14, 2018

WCU Player of the Game (Gardner-Webb)

This week's Purple & Gold  Player of the Game is junior running back  Connell Young.

Young put up 171 total yards while scoring two touchdowns to help Western Carolina beat Gardner-Webb. 28-10 Friday night.

Young had 14 carries for 105 yards on the ground and one rushing touchdown and caught six passes for a total of 66 yards and another touchdown.

Young scored from 33 yards out on the game's first possession, scored on a 31-yard run early in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Purple & Gold sends our congratulations to Connell Young on his selection as this week's WCU Player of the Game.

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This week's Purple & Gold football picks (9-14-18)

It's week #3 in the SoCon, and time to pick this weeks' games.

This week, we have 2 on Friday, 3 still to be played on Saturday, one game canceled and one game postponed, all due to Hurricane Florence.

Friday,  September 14, 2018
ETSU (1-1, 0-0 Southern) at VMI (0-2, 0-1 Southern)  2:30 pm
The Bucs travel Lexington to meet the Keydets the first of two conference games today. ETSU turns out to be a not so good guest, as the leave Lexington with a 35-17 win over the winless Keydets.

Western Carolina (1-0) at Gardner-Webb (1-1)  6 pm
The Cats travel to Boiling Springs for the second straight year, hoping to come away with the same final results.  Both teams need this win, but it's the Catamounts that come out on top, 38-24.

Saturday, 8-15-18
Mercer (1-1, 0-0 Southern) at Samford (1-1, 0-0 Southern) 3 pm
The Bears travel to Birmingham, hoping to capitalize on last week's win over Jacksonville, but the Bulldogs have a different idea in mind, their first conference win.  Dogs roll, 35-21 over Mercer.

Wofford (2-0) at Wyoming (1-2) 4 pm
The Terriers are hoping to pick up that FBS win, but it's just not in the cards. The Cowboys end their two-game losing streak with a 31-14 victory.

Chattanooga (2-0) at UT Martin (0-2) 4 pm
The Mocs continue their winning streak, this time it's the Skyhawk that fall victim to the Mocs.  Chattanooga takes a 28-14 win over UTM

Postponed -
Charleston Southern (0-1) at The Citadel (0-2)

Colgate (2-0) at Furman (0-2)


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