Catamount Football Preseason Practice No. 5 - Photo Gallery
Cullowhee, N.C. - Pace at Western Carolina's preseason football practice picked up on Tuesday as the Catamounts put on full pads for the first time this August in the fifth session of fall camp.
Beginning mid-morning under seasonable conditions, the two-hour, 17-period practice session concluded under warm conditions as heat began to radiate off the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Although air temperatures hovered around 80 through the practice, the temperature on the turf reached mid-to-upper 80s under the clear skies and morning August sun.
"I was really excited about the tempo of practice. It's an exciting day for both players and coaches. There's a lot of teaching and technique and individual stuff leading up to this day, so today gives you your first real gauge on where your football team is," said WCU head coach Mark Speir. "We did a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. I was very pleased with the first day (in full pads)."
Speir commented that he was most impressed with the offensive running attack and their ability to get downhill as well as finding the edge in the option aspects of the ground game. The defense also had its moments, stalling several drives in the scrimmage scenarios including a couple in goal line situations.
WCU's quarterbacks excelled early during the team run segment of Tuesday's practice with junior Troy Mitchell breaking free for a big gain on the very first play of the session. Senior Garrett Brown and freshman Jackson McDonald added scampers for gains in the read option. Tailbacks Shaun Warren and Detrez Newsome rattled off double-digit gainers on the ground.
In the team pass segment, Mitchell found a streaking Karnorris Benson up the left sideline where he made a one-handed grab on a big play to highlight play for the offense. The defense had its share of big plays, too, as ends John McBeth and Caleb Hawkins, as well as Worsham were credited with sacks with Terrence Green breaking up a pass in the secondary.
The tight ends factored heavily in the 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday with both Tyler Sexton and Michael Helms Jr. hauling in several passes. Sophomore wide outs Steffon Hill, Willie Police and C.J. Goodman, as well as freshman Jordan Mathis each made receptions for the offense. Defensive back Ja'Kari Golden intercepted a deep pass as a part of the skill position.
Scrimmage scenarios in team mix originated from the red zone with the offense working against the defense. Tailback Darius Ramsey caught a six-yard pass out of the backfield to successfully move the chains in the early portion of the scenarios. The offensive unit tallied three rushing touchdowns with Warren, Mitchell and Newsome each punching it in from 11, seven and three yards out. Sophomore corner Trey Morgan charted a pass break-up and linebacker Tommy Tate had a big touchdown-saving tackle as a part of the red zone work.
WCU is scheduled for its first of three two-a-day practices on Wednesday, hitting the turf in full pads in the morning before returning for an early evening session in shells. After one practice on Thursday afternoon, the team will hold its second two-a-day on Friday ahead of the first of three scheduled intrasquad scrimmages on Saturday afternoon.
All of WCU's preseason football practices are open to the public. It is respectfully requested that spectators observe from the stadium seating area and avoid being either on the field or the sidelines for safety.
Season tickets for all six of WCU's home games in 2014 are on-sale through the Catamount Athletic Ticket Office and online at CatamountSports.com. Purchasing season tickets also allows fans to secure tickets before single-game sales begin on August 25. With Western Carolina University celebrating its 125th anniversary, fans can purchase a reserved adult season ticket for all six home games for just $125 with youth reserved starting at $65.
To purchase 2014 Catamount football season tickets, contact Director of Ticket Operations Michael Lee at (828)227-2401, toll free at (800)34-GOWCU or purchase tickets online at CatamountSports.com.
Fans can also keep track of preseason activities through the Catamount Athletics social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/catamountsports) and Twitter (@catamounts), as well as video updates on the department's YouTube channel (CatamountSports).
2014 Catamount Football - Upcoming Fall Practice Schedule:
Tues., August 5: Practice #5 - 10:00 am (full pads)
Wed., August 6: Practice #6 - 10:00 am (full pads); Practice #7 - 5:25 pm (shells)
Thurs., August 7: Practice #8 - 2:00 pm (full pads)
Fri., August 8: Practice #9 - 10:00 am (full pads); Practice #10 - 5:25 pm (shells)
Sat., August 9: Practice #11 - Scrimmage, 3:45 pm (full pads)
Sun., August 10: No Practice - WCU Photo/Media Day, 2:00 pm
Mon., August 11: Practice #12 - 10:00 am (full pads)
* Practice times are subject to change
Important Upcoming Dates to Remember:
Wed., August 6 - First scheduled two-a-day practice sessions
Sat., August 9 - Catamount football intrasquad scrimmage (3:45 pm)
Sat., August 9 - Catamount Tailgate Kickoff (Catamount Club members)
Wed., August 13 - Catamount football intrasquad scrimmage (4:30 pm)
Wed., August 13 - Catamount women's soccer vs. Winthrop (exhibition) (6:00 pm)
Fri., August 15 - Catamount women's soccer vs. UNC Asheville (exhibition) (7:00 pm)
Sat., August 16 - Catamount football Intrasquad scrimmage (10:30 am)
Mon., August 18 - First day of fall classes at WCU
Fri., August 22 - Catamount women's soccer vs. Eastern Kentucky (2014 home opener), 7 pm
Sun., August 24 - Catamount women's soccer vs. East Carolina, 2:00 pm
Mon., August 25 - Catamount Football single-game tickets go on sale
Fri., August 29 - Catamount cross country hosts the Western Carolina Invitational, 6:30 pm
Sat., August 30 - 2014 Catamount Football season opener at USF in Tampa, Fla.
Fri., Sept. 5 - 10th Annual Bob Waters Memorial golf tournament; Maggie Valley Club, Maggie Valley, N.C.
Sat., Sept. 6 - 2014 Catamount Football home opener vs. Brevard in Cullowhee
Fri., Sept. 26 - The Upstate Classic golf tournament; The Preserve at Verdae in Greenville, S.C.