Tuesday, August 10, 2021

2021 Football Preseason Preview: VMI Keydets

Throughout the preseason, Purple & Gold has previewed all of Western Carolina's 2021 football opponents.

For the final preview, it's also the final conference game of the season, as the Cats travel to Lexington, VA to face the defending SoCon Champions, the VMI Keydets.  

The Cats have won three straight games in Lexington since the Keydets return to the SoCon, can we make it four?  

Game #11 - VMI Keydets

When: Saturday, November 20
Time: 1:30 pm EST
WhereAlumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium, Lexington, VA
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: ESPN+
Live Stats:  VMI
Fan Message BoardKeydet Sportstalk

The Series: Western currently leads the series with VMI, by a 22-4 margin. The Cats and Keydets first played on the gridiron in 1978, and the Cats owned a sixteen-game winning streak over the Keydets until this past spring when the Keydets broke that streak on their road to a SoCon Championship.  The Cats do hold a 10-3 record of games played in Lexington and are 3-0 there since VMI's return to the Southern Conference.  

The last game played vs. VMI March 6, 2021 - Catamount Football Drops Home Opener to VMI, 30-7 - Cullowhee, N.C. – VMI running back Korey Bridy rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns to guide the Keydets to a 30-7 victory over Western Carolina on Saturday afternoon in Southern Conference action at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field.

Head Coach: Scott WachenheimEntering his seventh season as VMI’s head football coach, Scott Wachenheim has taken VMI Football back to championship level play and guided the program toward football prominence on the FCS level. In the spring football season of 2021, Wachenheim led the Keydets to a 6-2 season mark and the Southern Conference football championship after going 6-1 in league play – securing the Institute’s first title since 1977 and first outright league championship since 1974. VMI also attained its first FCS national ranking and completed the year ranked 12th in the polls while also earning its first-ever FCS playoff appearance. The season was VMI’s first winning campaign since 1981. 

Scott Wachenheim's record vs. Western Carolina:  1 - 5
Kerwin Bell's record vs. VMI:  0 - 0

Last Season's Record (VMI): 2019 - 6-2 overall, 3-1 home, 3-1 away,  6-1 SoCon  - The Keydets only was was to ETSU, but did not play Chattanooga, as that game was canceled when the Mocs opted out of the season.  

Offensive Formation: Air Raid
Defensive Formation: 3-4
Starters returning/lost:    17   /   11
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost:  10   /  1
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:   6   /   5
Specialist - Returning/Lost:    3    /    0
Letterwinners Returning: 78

The defending SoCon champs, VMI completed the spring season with a 6-1 conference record, losing only to ETSU. However, the Keydets did not play ChattaQuitta, with their game originally being postponed, then canceled when the Mocs bailed on the season.  The Keydets return nearly their entire offense, losing only Brad Davis off of the offensive line. The Keydets are not quite as fortunate on the defensive side of the ball, losing 5 starters, one lineman (Jordan Ward), two linebackers (Connor Riddle & Tyren Cloyd), and two defensive backs (Alex Smith & Josh Sarratt). 

After the spring season (2020-21), junior wide receiver Jakob Herres was named Offensive Player of the Year and sophomore linebacker Stone Snyder was named Defensive Player of the Year, and redshirt freshman quarterback Seth Morgan was named Freshman of the Year in the coaches' poll. Named to the all-conference teams on offense were, OL Marshall GillWR Jakob Herres, and OL Nick Hartnett. From the defensive units, was safety A.J. SmithLB - Stone Snyder, and SPUR Ethan CaselberryAll return for the Keydets for the fall season. 

The preseason #13 nationally ranked VMI football team has six Keydets that earned spots on the SoCon's all-conference preseason squads, wide receiver Jakob Herres, offensive lineman Marshall Gill, Snyder at linebacker, and defensive back Ethan Caselberry. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Seth Morgan landed a spot on the preseason second-team along with senior defensive lineman Warren Dabney.  Junior linebacker Stone Snyder was named 2021 SoCon Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.  

The Keydets "air raid" offense averaged 310 years per game in passing offense, enough for second in the league, but finished with only 118 yards on the ground per game, finishing the season in 8th place in rushing offense.  
2020-21 VMI Statistics  (Spring 8 games)
Rushing Offense: 946 yards
Yards per game: 118
Yards per rush: 3.4 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 60
TDs rushing: 12
Passing Offense: 2477 yards or 310 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 7.2 yards
Passing 1st downs: 119
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 247-344-6
TDs Passing: 17
Total Offense: 3423 yards or 427.9 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 5-3
3d Down Conversions: 54 of 121 (45%)
4th Down Conversions: 14 of 19 (74%)
Field goal attempts:  11 - 24
PAT-Attempts: 25 of 27
On-side kicks: 0 - 1
Red Zone Scores: 35 of 41 (85%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 25 of 41 (61%)
Punts - Yards: 31 - 1200 - Avg per punt: 38.7

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