Aug. 11, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - With its 11th practice session of the 2013 preseason, Western Carolina held its first official scrimmage on Saturday afternoon at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. The squad ran through a combined 23 series with varying starting points during the head-to-head scrimmage which encompassed nearly 150 combined snaps, and also incorporated live special teams scenarios.
WCU's offense capped eight drives with scoring plays including five touchdowns - three through the air and two rushing - while adding three field goals. The defensive unit combined for 15 stops with four takeaways, three fumbles and an interception.
"It's always good to get the coaches off the field and you have the Southern Conference officials here and just see what our players know and what they don't know. Today, we got an opportunity to see just where our football team is," said WCU second year head coach Mark Speir. "I thought the energy was good with guys flying around the football - I was very excited about that."
Speir added, "I thought our defensive played exceptionally well today. They created four turnovers and I thought they tackled real well. Offensively, we had a little bit of a self destruction at times. A lot of times just one guy not getting the job done. We've just got to go in and correct those mistakes and understand that they are one heartbeat - if one guy fails, we all fail. And they've got to do a better job of taking care of the football."
WCU dodged inclement weather most of the afternoon, only missing pre-practice walk-through sessions because of a passing rain shower, moving inside the Ramsey Center. Otherwise the team worked under mostly cloudy skies with the sun occasionally popping through to keep the late summer temperatures up.
Unofficially on the afternoon, the Catamount offense racked up 348 yards of passing and just over 150 yards on the ground. Exact cumulative rushing totals are not available because the quarterback position was protected.
Three quarterbacks split rotations with redshirt junior Eddie Sullivan and sophomore Troy Mitchell seeing the bulk of the reps. Mitchell held a slight edge statistically, completing 16-of-27 passes (59.3%) for 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Sullivan was 15-of-28 (53.6%) for 172 yards, tossing both a touchdown and an interception.
A combined 12 different wide receivers hauled in passes led by junior Karnorris Benson, who recorded 10 catches for 134 yards and two TDs, both coming from Mitchell. True freshman Terryon Robinson hauled in four passes for 45 yards, while Gary Richardson tallied the third receiving score on a nine-yard strike from Sullivan.
Four running backs carried the load on Saturday afternoon with sophomore Darius Ramsey rushing 21 times for 63 yards. Converted tailback David Giron rushed 13 times for 41 yards and a score and junior Shawn Warren also scored on one of his five rushing attempts, tallying 23 rushing yards. Freshman Garry Lewis also carried the football, as did junior wideout Willie Police who also rushed twice for eight yards on a sweep.
Three players recorded seven tackles apiece to lead the defense during the two-hour scrimmage on Saturday afternoon with a total of eight Catamounts posting five-or-more tackles. The defensive unit was also credited for a combined 17 tackles for loss including eight quarterback sacks, with seven pass breakups.
Defensive lineman John McBeth and linebackers Christon Gill and Courtland Carson each paced the squad with seven total hits. Gill was credited with two tackles for loss while McBeth had a pass break-up. Freshman defensive lineman Tahjai Watt finished with six tackles including a sack and a quarterback hurry. Defensive backs Jaleel Lorquet, Brandon Grady and Ben Watkins each had five tackles apiece with Lorquet forcing and recovering a fumble, while he and Watkins both deflected a pass.
Western Carolina's specialists were perfect on the day, connecting on all three field goal attempts and the five PATs. Junior Richard Sigmon hit field goals from 34 and 21 yards out while preseason All-SoCon punter Clark Sechrest punched in a 29 yard attempt. Sechrest and redshirt freshman Blake Metcalf both recorded two PAT's with Sigmon tallying one.
Western Carolina's players, coaches and staff will enjoy their first off-day from the practice field since opening camp back on Friday, Aug. 2. The squad will hold a team meeting Sunday afternoon which will be followed by a breakdown of the film from Saturday's scrimmage. The Catamounts return to the field on Monday, Aug. 12, for the third two-a-day practice of training camp.
- Remained relatively healthy through the scrimmage ... Only eight players were held out of the scrimmage completely: offensive lineman Andrew Potts; defensive linemen Andrew Mayton and Andre Whitmire; running back C.J. Goodman; wide receivers Jamil James and Chisolm Okolie ... linebacker Marcus Stokes ... and defensive back Sertonuse Harris;
- Redshirt senior defensive lineman Andre Shishkin took part in the scrimmage, but was limited and later taken out with a groin injury;
- All injuries will be re-evaluated through the Western Carolina Sports Medicine staff on Sunday, the squad's off-day.
This Week in Catamount Football:
Monday, August 12:
Practice #12, 9:00 am (full pads)
Practice #13, 7:30 pm (shells)
Tuesday, August 13:
Practice #14, 1:30 pm (full pads)
Wednesday, August 14:
Practice #15, 9:45 am (shells) Scrimmage #2 (Practice #16, full pads) 5:00 pm
Thursday, August 15:
Practice #17, 2:30 pm (shells)
Friday, August 16:
Practice #18, 9:15 am (full pads)
Defense Help with Move-In, 2:30-4:00 pm
Offense Help with Move-In, 4:00-5:30 pm
Saturday, August 17:
Scrimmage #3 (Practice #19, full pads) 10:00 am
Sunday, August 18:
Practice #20, 2:00 pm (shells)
Important Catamount Football Dates to Remember:
Wed., August 14 - Second scrimmage of preseason, 5:00 pm
Sat., August 17 - Third scrimmage of preseason, 10:00 am
Mon., August 19 - First day of fall classes at WCU
Mon., August 19 - 2013 Catamount Football single-game tickets go on sale
Thurs., August 29 - 2013 Catamount Football season-opener at Middle Tennessee; Murfreesboro, Tenn. (6:30 pm CT / 7:30 pm ET)
Fri., September 13 - The Bob Waters Memorial golf tournament; High Vista Country Club in Mills River, N.C.
Sat., September 14 - 2013 Catamount Football home opener vs. The Citadel (3:30 pm)