April 9, 2005
Cullowhee, N.C. -
The Western Carolina University football team had its 10th spring practice Saturday morning at Whitmire Stadium/Waters Field, conducting a two-hour scrimmage that involved 20 series of plays. Randy Birch, Felipe Foster and Darren Curtis provided some big plays on defense, while Garret Baker, Lamont Reid and Calvin Guinyard were the offensive standouts.
"I'll have to watch the film to get a good gauge on today, but I thought it was a good physical practice," said WCU head coach Kent Briggs. "We did some really good things on both sides of the ball, but there is always room for improvement. I was impressed with our enthusiasm and effort, especially for a long scrimmage after nine tough practices."
In addition to his thoughts on the scrimmage, Briggs announced today that junior quarterback Bennett Swygert will take the 2005 football season off after having surgery on both shoulders this past season.
"Bennett will not play next season due to having multiple surgeries over the past year," Briggs said. "He is facing a six month rehab and he felt like he would not have the opportunity to get back. He needed to take a year off to get back healthy, let his body recuperate to try to come back next spring and be back for his senior year."
Swygert was Western's starting quarterback in the Cats' first five games, before being injured in the Furman game. He returned to the field, starting in Western's win over Appalachian State and leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an injury. He did return as a backup for a few plays in Western's season finale at The Citadel. For the year, he completed 64-of-123 passes for 573 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions.
At the scrimmage, Birch, a sophomore defensive tackle, made an impact on the second series as he recorded the first of his three tackles for losses with a five-yard sack to force a three-and-out by the offense. Later in the scrimmage, the Shebly, N.C., native also had a sack to halt an impressive offensive drive and a two-yard TFL to force a field goal attempt.
The offense got on track on the third series, thanks to a 17-yard scramble by sophomore quarterback Russell Hemby. However, Francis Brown had a pass breakup to end the series.. Two plays later, Baker, a redshirt freshman from Robersonville, N.C., looked to stopped for a short gain, but bounced off left tackle and out-ran the defense down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.
Foster, a junior defensive tackle from Athens, Ga., teamed with fellow junior lineman John Martin to give the defense the momentum back. Foster added a five-yard sack and a two-yard TFL later in the scrimmage. However, the momentum shifted back to the offense as Reid, a senior tailback from Maiden, N.C., turned a simple handoff up the middle into a 54-yard touchdown.
After six series of normal scrimmaging, the offense moved back to its own one yard line. Most of the plays were short runs just to get off the goal line. However, Hemby threw a nice fade pass to Guinyard for a 40-yard gain. The defense also had a big play when senior safety Andre Brown picked off a pass.
The eighth-11th series went back to normal scrimmage situations. Another nice Hemby run was wasted as Birch and Buck Freeman each came up with tackles for losses. However, Hemby stayed in as quarterback for the next series. He hit J.C. Brown for a first down and had a 50-yard pass to Guinyard to get down to the 20. Back-to-back runs by Daruis Fudge moved the ball to the three yard line, setting up a Hemby-to-Guinyard TD pass. As he did on the earlier scores, Stephen Brown converted the point after attempt. Afterwards, quarterback Justin Clark had some offensive success, but Lamar Barnes came up with a pass break up to end the segment.
Western worked on its punting for the few minutes, which featured a 52-yarder by Tim Mayse. The defense took control over the next three series, forcing three-and-outs each time.
Series numbers 15-18 had the ball starting on the 20, working on red zone offense. In each series, the defense had some big plays. Foster and Birch had sacks to force field goal attempts on the first two series. The second field goal was blocked by redshirt freshman Darren Curtis. James Conklin had a sack and Foster had a TFL on the third series, while Curtis recorded a TFL and Mitchell Dukes a PBU on the fourth series.
The scrimmage wrapped up with the offense having the ball inside the four yard line for approximately 15 plays with the offense getting into the endzone five times, including Nicholas Wishart, Baker twice, Reid and a Clark-to-John Bush pass.
Darius Fudge 11-30; Lamont Reid 10-69, 54-yd TD; Garret Baker 6-66, 58-yd TD; Nicholas Wishart 6-9; Russell Hemby 4-44.
Justin Clark 7-15, 38 yds, 1 INT; Russell Hemby 6-15, 118 yds, 1 TD.
Calvin Guinyard 4-103, 4-yd TD; J.C. Brown 2-20; Five others with one catch each.