April 29, 2010
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina Football held its final practice prior to this Saturday's annual Spring Game with a two-hour, 24-session drill on Thursday morning on the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium.
Festivities surrounding the Spring Game will begin at 5:00 pm with inflatable yard toys and face painting by the WCU Cheerleaders for the kids. The first 500 fans through the gates will get a free, 2010 football schedule koozie. The team will hit the turf at 6:00 pm on Saturday evening and admission is free.
Thursday's practice, which was conducted in half pads with helmets, shoulder pads and thigh pads under shorts, opened with offense versus defense two-minute drill scenarios. Both units were put in situations where the field position was in their favor with two minutes on the game clock looking to either score or hold the line.
"Having the two minute drill at the beginning of today's final practice before the spring game started the session off on the right note," said head coach Dennis Wagner. "Both groups really competed, but for the most part, our defense held the upper hand in that opening drill. In the team periods near the end of practice, I thought the offense did a really nice job of executing against our defense."
He added, "There was a lot of enthusiasm today. Guys are competing and we are looking forward to Saturday night with the Spring Game and hope we have a large turnout."
Practice included more individual unit work on fundamentals and technique, with a couple latter sessions also spent on special teams work.
Saturday's annual Spring Game will be a scripted, controlled scrimmage session totaling around 14 different possessions with varying starting field positions. It will pit the offensive unit against the defense - divided into both first and second teams - with the offense scoring points by the normal manner while the defense will tally normal points for touchdowns and safeties, three points for turnovers (on downs, interceptions or fumble recoveries) and one point for a defensive stop that forces the offense to punt.
"We want to see consistency on both sides," said Wagner on the spring game. "We want our first defense take the ball away and stop drives. Offensively, we want to put the ball in the end zone or get a field goal, coming away with points each time we touch the ball. We will again put both our offense and defense in tough spots and those groups will have to perform. We are just looking for our guys to play hard, compete as we hope to get a 65-to-70 play scrimmage off and to stay healthy."
In addition to the pre-game festivities surrounding the Spring Game, the Catamount Club will host a special "Purple Zone" event on the patio of the Jordan-Phillips Field House. Also, Michael Chapin, host of the weekly interactive sports talk show, "In the Litterbox," will be broadcasting live beginning at 4:00 pm from the field house porch. Fans can listen to the show on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5, or online at www.WWCUFM.com, with the broadcast running through the start of the scrimmage.
Looking at the spring season overall, Wagner has been pleased with the proceedings surrounding his third spring drills as the head coach in Cullowhee, grading the team out to a "B or B+" entering Saturday's Spring Game.
"We are excited. It's been a great spring. It has been the best spring since we've been here," he concluded.
During this off-season, a new state-of-the-art video board and new scoreboard were installed at Whitmire Stadium / Waters Field in the south end zone - or Ramsey Center side of the facility. Construction on the new video scoreboard is almost complete. Finishing touches and testing remain to be finalized before WCU can officially take ownership of the board. These last minute details are ongoing, but will not be wrapped up prior to the spring game on May 1.
Look forward to the unveiling at the first home game of the 2010 season on September 11 when the Catamounts take on Tusculum College in Cullowhee.