Friday, August 5, 2022

2022 Football Preseason Preview: Samford Bulldogs

Throughout this preseason, Purple & Gold will preview all of Western's 2022 football opponents.

For the 2022 season's fourth game, the Catamounts open their conference season and return to the road to face the Samford Bulldogs in Birmingham, AL.

The Bulldogs finished the 2021 season in seventh place, and are picked sixth in the SoCon coaches poll for 2022.  

Game #4 - Samford Bulldogs

When: Saturday, September 24, 2021
Time: 3:00 pm (ET)
Where: Seibert Stadium, Birmingham, AL
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video:  ESPN+
Live Stats: Samford Live Stats
Bulldog Message Board: The Dog Pound

The Series: The Cats are 3-16 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 2-7 in games played in Cullowhee.

Last game played vs. Samford: Sep. 18, 2021 - Samford Escapes Cullowhee in SoCon-Opener at WCU, 42-37 - Trailing 21-3 early in the second quarter, Western Carolina stormed back with 28-straight points to seize a 10-point, 31-21, lead late in the third stanza in Saturday's Family Weekend matchup with Samford. However, the Bulldogs rallied with three-consecutive scores in building an 11-point edge and then held off a late Catamount comeback attempt to escape E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field with a 42-37 win in the first Southern Conference game of the season.

Chris Hatcher's record vs. Western Carolina: 8-2
Kerwin Bell's record vs. Samford: 0-1

Head Coach: Chris Hatcher. Chris Hatcher was named Samford’s 36th head football coach on Dec. 11, 2014. Entering his eighth season at Samford in 2022, Hatcher boasts a career record of 161-93 in 22 years as a college head coach, having previously coached at Murray State, Georgia Southern and Valdosta State. In his time at Samford, his teams have consistently been among the Southern Conference and FCS leaders in several categories.

Hatcher's Record at Samford (Years): 40-36 (8th season)
Career Record (Years): 161-93 (23rd season)

Last Season's Record - 2020-21 (Samford): 4-7 overall, 2-3 home, 2-4 away, 3-5 SoCon

Offensive Formation: Multiple
Defensive Formation: 4-3
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 48/28
Offensive Starters Returning/Lost: 8/3
Defensive Starters Returning/Lost: 7/4
Special Teams Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3

Three members of the Samford football team were named to the 2022 Preseason All-Southern Conference teams. Nathan East was named to the first team at linebacker, while offensive lineman Gavin Orr and punter Bradley Porcellato were selected to the second team. In the SoCon preseason polls, the Bulldogs were selected to finish in 5th place by the coaches, and in seventh place by the media.

A couple of transfers probably have the inside track at the starting quarterback position, since the departure of Liam Welch. A junior transfer from the University of Kentucky, Nik Scalzo, and juco transfer Michael Hiers most likely will battle for the starting job. The Bulldogs were the worst defense in the FCS last fall, completing the 2022 campaign ranked 123rd out of 123 FCS teams ranked in total defense, surrendering a whopping 505.4 YPG last season.  

After last year's disappointing season, with Hatcher on the hot seat, he shuffled his staff and added seven assistant coaches, Chris Boone (Defensive Coordinator/Safeties), Brandon Cooper (Linebackers), Mike Krysl (Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends), Terrance Malone (Outside Linebackers), Darien Moody (Defensive Line), Lewis Freeman (Director of Football Operations) and Connor Koch (Director of Player Personnel) joined the full-time staff. Holdover, Ricky Turner was promoted to assistant head coach/offensive coordinator, and Shawn Bostick was elevated to associate head coach/offensive line.  I don't see enough improvement in the defense to accomplish what Hatcher needs to remain in Birmingham.  

2021 Samford Statistics (Fall - 11 games)
Rushing Offense: 1724 yards
Yards per game: 141.3
Yards per rush: 4.5 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 84
TDs rushing: 27
Passing Offense: 4936 yards or 448 yards per game
Passing 1st downs: 145
Passing Att-Comp-Int: 480-318-15
TDs Passing: 22
Total Offense: 4936 yards or 449 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 9-5
3d Down Conversions: 63 of 153 (41.2%)
4th Down Conversions: 15 of 24 (63%)
Field goal attempts: 13 - 15
PAT-Attempts: 15 of 18
Red Zone Scores: 50 of 55
Red Zone Touchdowns: 37 of 55
On-Side Kicks: 0 - 0
Penalties-Yards: 16 - 243

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