Wednesday, August 10, 2022

2022 Football Preseason Preview: VMI Keydets

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

For the 2022 season's fifth game, the Catamounts return home to face the Virginia Military Institute in EJ Whitmire Stadium.

The Bulldogs finished the 2021 season tied with Furman and Western Carolina in fourth place with a 4-4 conference record. The Keydets were picked to finish seventh in the 2022 coaches poll.

Game #5 - VMI Keydets

When: Saturday, October 1, 2022
Time: 3:30 pm EST
Where: E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
TV/video: ESPN+
Live StatsWCU Live Stats
Fan Message BoardKeydet Sportstalk

The Series: Western currently leads the series with VMI, by a 24-4 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 spring of 2021 when the Keydets broke that streak on road to a SoCon Championship.  The Cats do hold a 13-1 record of games played in Cullowhee and are 7-1 over VMI since their return to the Southern Conference.  

The last game played vs. VMI November 20, 2021 -  Lexington, Va.  - Catamounts Cap 2021 Season with Road Win at VMI, 52-24 Senior quarterback Rogan Wells threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns spread to four different receivers, including a three-yard pass to classmate Daquan Patten who added a 78-yard punt return for a score as Western Carolina closed the 2021 season with an emphatic 52-24 road win over the defending Southern Conference champion VMI Keydets on Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.

Head Coach: Scott WachenheimEntering his eighth 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 - 6
Kerwin Bell's record vs. VMI:  1 - 0

Last Season's Record (VMI): 2021 - 6-5 overall, 4-1 home, 2-4 away,  4-4 SoCon

Offensive Formation: Air Raid
Defensive Formation: 3-4

Starters returning/lost:    15   /   10
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost:  6   /  5
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost:   6   /   5
Specialist - Returning/Lost:    3    /    0
Letterwinners Returning: 80 / 27

VMI was picked to finish seventh in the 2022 Coaches' preseason poll, and the Keydets had a total of 10 players to receive preseason honors. Stone Snyder, a two-time All-American and SoCon Defensive Player of the Year at linebacker continued to rack up the accolades with first-team defensive honors.  The Keydets dominated the specialists' categories, as Jerry Rice (K), Jack Culbreath (P) and Robert Soderholm (LS) garnered first-team recognition.

Seth Morgan (QB), Jarvis Chandler (OL), Aidan Twombly (TE) and Leroy Thomas (WR) all earned second-team offensive honors, while Eric Weaver (DL) and Aljareek Malry (DB) represent VMI on the second-team defensive squad.

Over the past two seasons, the Keydets have recorded a combined 12-7 record, and are 10-6 against SoCon competition during that period. The back-to-back winning seasons for VMI in 2020 and 2021 is the first time since the 1961 and ’62 era.

Given what returns for the Keydets on offense, they might just finish highter than that seventh place pick by the coaches.  

2021 VMI Statistics  (11 games)
Rushing Offense: 1776 yards
Yards per game: 162
Yards per rush: 4.2 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 94
TDs rushing: 23
Passing Offense: 2831 yards or 257 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 10.5 yards
Passing 1st downs: 130
Passing Comp-Att-Int: 270-426-13
TDs Passing: 18
Total Offense: 4607 yards or 419 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 11 - 7
3d Down Conversions: 71 of 166 (43%)
4th Down Conversions: 16 of 26 (62%)
Field goal attempts 17 - 19
PAT-Attempts: 39 of 99
On-side kicks: 1 - 1
Red Zone Scores: 45 of 53  (85%)
Red Zone Touchdowns: 33 of 53 (62%)
Punts - Yards: 45 - 1866 - Avg per punt: 41.5

Western Carolina Athletics will honor football student-athlete alum Brad Hoover and the No. 41 that he wore during his standout four-year Catamount career. The special recognition is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

As a part of the special ceremony, Hoover's number 41 will be enshrined alongside three additional honored numbers from WCU's football past and displayed at Bob Waters Field / E.J. Whitmire Stadium. Hoover's No. 41 will join the No. 54 of Art Byrd (1946-49), the No. 23 of Jerry Gaines (1970-75), and the No. 14 of four-time All-Southern Conference selection kicker Kirk Roach (1984-87).

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