Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head coach Mark Speir and his staff put the Catamount football team through spring practice No. 7 on Tuesday afternoon on the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. The two-hour session featured practice in just helmets and shoulder pads -- or shells -- under sunshine and bright blue skies with temperatures seasonably mild.
It was WCU's first practice since prior to the University's spring break which concluded over the weekend.
"Coming back off of spring break, I thought we practiced hard -- but we had way too many mistakes today," said Speir following Tuesday's session. "You could make a lot of excuses like `we haven't practiced in 12 days' or `we're coming off of spring break,' -- but this program is beyond that. Overall, I thought we were a little sloppy today. I thought the effort was good, it was more mental mistakes than physical."
Tuesday's session included individual position, unit, and team sessions with a couple offense-versus-defense periods of "thud-up" contact.
Offensive coordinator Brad Glenn continues to rotate three quarterbacks in the backfield, each splitting reps as WCU searches for the replacement for Troy Mitchell, the senior who -- among other categories -- finished as the Catamounts' all-time leader in total offense. Returning QB Wes Holcombe and freshmen Kalen Whitlow and Tyrie Adams each took time in the offensive backfield, rotating with various skill and line personnel.
Defensively, coordinator Dustin Landry and his staff continued the install of his system, reinforcing the film study sessions on the field with walk-through and live action periods.
"This is a huge week for us with a total of four practices. It's a week where we'll see if this team is going to get better or just try and survive the spring. So, I'm going to be interested to see the mentality and the leadership of this team. Are we going to be a team that'll just survive and be satisfied with having a good spring, or are we going to take it to the next level."
The Catamounts are slated to practice three more times this week including a session in full pads on Thursday and one in shells on Friday afternoon. The squad will hold its first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1:00 pm.
Speir added, "We're going to come back on Thursday and be in full pads. I've told them, we're going to get after it on Thursday with a good, physical practice with a lot of team segments. We'll get these corrections made before we go light on Friday. Then, we look to have anywhere from 120-to-140 play scrimmage this Saturday."
Each WCU spring football practice is open to the public. It is respectfully requested, though, that spectators observe from the stadium seating area and avoid being either on the field or sidelines.
Season tickets for all five home dates in 2016 are on-sale now through the WCU Athletics Ticket Office and online at CatamountSports.com. Returning season ticket holders must renew their season tickets by mid-June, 2016. Fans can call the ticket office toll free at (800) 34-GOWCU or (828) 227-2401.
Upcoming 2016 Catamount Football Spring Practice Schedule:
(schedule subject to date/time change)
Practice #8: Thursday, March 31 (full pads) -- 4 pm
Practice #9: Friday, April 1 (shells) -- 4 pm
Practice #10: Saturday, April 2 -- scrimmage (full pads) -- 1 pm
Practice #11: Tuesday, April 5 (shells) -- 4 pm
Practice #12: Thursday, April 11 (full pads) -- 4 pm
Practice #13: Saturday, April 9 -- Spring Game, presented by Wells Fargo (full pads) -- 1:00 pm
Practice #14: Tuesday, April 12 (shells) -- 4 pm
Practice #15: Thursday, April 14 (shells) -- 4 pm