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Cullowhee, N.C. – Business picked up on Wednesday at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field as the Catamount football team put on full pads for the first time this preseason. Western Carolina worked out for 13 periods lasting right at two hours under hot, sunny, and muggy conditions on the turf, seeing the most contact to date of this year’s fall camp.

“We had a good day of work; I thought it was a productive day,” said WCU head coach Mark Speir following Wednesday’s practice. “We threw a lot at them, but we wanted to see who could process information and some install yet go out there and still play at a high level with high intensity. I thought most of the team did that. We’ve got a lot of young guys, especially on defense, and I wanted to see how they would handle some install and with the ramping up of the intensity and tempo of practice.”

Speir added, “It’s been a long time since we’ve got to go full tilt. It was a real productive day. “Overall the first day (in full pads) was really good.”

In addition to position and unit drills, Wednesday’s practice included four live segments including one in the special teams on field goal and field goal block. Hitting really ramped up in the sixth period of the day with the return of the “Cat Drill” – which pits two defenders against two offensive players looking to score.

During the 7-on-7 drills, quarterback Tyrie Adams connected with redshirt senior WR Tyran Reynolds for a couple of grabs while Angel Perez-Hunt nearly hauled in the only score of the skill drill.

Many of the live, offense-vs.-defense periods of Wednesday’s practice focused on short-yardage and being in the red-zone. Highlighting the final scrimmage portion of the practice was a red-zone touchdown drive led by Adams and spurred by RB Connell Young who broke off the right side of the line and would have scored if not for a TD-saving tackle by Marvin Tillman. Two plays later, Donnavan Spencer took a pitch from Adams around the left end for the score.

Young and Spencer were joined by transfer RB Haki Bradley and freshman D.J. Atkins, who left practice early with a lower leg injury, in splitting most of the reps in the backfield. Adams and redshirt freshman QB Will Jones split the bulk of the live reps on Wednesday.

Defensively, redshirt sophomore DB Michael Murphy made an athletic move to bat down a pass, while DB Devarius Cortner and LB Jacquez Williams both tallied tackles for loss. Williams along with DL Nate Link were also disruptive at the point of attack along the line of scrimmage in providing pressure with Bruce Squires stepping up for a big run stop.

Sophomore kicker Will Horton connected on his lone PAT attempt while also splitting the uprights from 33 yards out – a field goal made more entertaining by the recovery of a low snap by holder Ian Berryman.

“We emphasized getting at minimum field goals and looking for touchdowns for the offense, and we tried to get our defense to learn that we don’t panic down here (in the red zone); that we can hold them to a field goal attempt and then go block it,” said Speir of the varying short-yardage scenarios he and his coaching staff worked the team through on Wednesday.

WCU’s practice week continues with team media/photo day on Thursday afternoon with a special Facebook LIVE event with head coach Mark Speir slated for Thursday evening beginning at 6:30 pm. The squad will hold its first preseason scrimmage this Saturday, Aug. 11 beginning at Noon.

 

Both season and single-game tickets for all five home dates in 2018 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office located on the first floor of the Ramsey Center or by phone at (800)34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401. Fans can also purchase tickets online by visiting CatamountSports.com. 

 

2018 Catamount Football -- Upcoming Fall Practice Schedule:

Thursday, Aug. 9 – No Practice -- Media / Team Photo Day (3:30 – 5:30 pm); Facebook LIVE with Mark Speir (6:30 – 7:30 pm)

Friday, Aug. 10 – Practice #6 – 9:45 – 11:45 am (shells)

Saturday, Aug. 11 – Practice #7 (scrimmage) – Noon – 2:00 pm (full pads)

Sunday, Aug. 12 – Practice #8 (helmets) – 4:30 – 5:45 pm

Monday, Aug. 13 – Practice #9 (full) – 9:45 – 11:45 am

Tuesday, Aug. 14 – Practice #10 (shells) – 9:45 – 11:45 am

Wednesday, Aug. 15 – Practice #11 (full) 9:45 am – 11:45 am (scrimmage end of practice)

 

* Practice times are subject to change

 

Keep track of everything related to Catamount football and WCU Athletics through its social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports) and Twitter (@catamounts, @WCU_FB), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports). 

 

Important Upcoming Dates in Catamount Athletics / Catamount Football:

Thursday, Aug. 9 – WCU Photo Day / Media Day (3:30 pm); Facebook LIVE with Mark Speir (6:30 pm)

Friday, Aug. 17 – Western Carolina University Freshman Move-In Day

Saturday, Aug. 18 – Catamount football scrimmage (1:00 pm)

Monday, Aug. 20 – First day of classes for the fall semester

Friday, August 31 – “The Mutt" Catamount Football Golf Classic at The Maggie Valley Club

Saturday, Sept. 1 – 2018 Catamount Football season and home-opener vs. Newberry -- Fireworks Night

Friday, Oct. 12 – 14th annual Bob Waters Memorial Golf Tournament at the Laurel Ridge Country Club

Saturday, Oct. 13 – Catamount Football vs. Chattanooga – Hall of Fame Day

 

 

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