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Catamount Football Opens 2014 against South Florida

Western Carolina opens the 2014 season Saturday night at USF at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Aug. 29, 2014

Western Carolina Game Notes at South Florida

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina opens its 2014 season on Saturday (Aug. 30) night as the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Catamounts travel to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., to face the South Florida Bulls. Kickoff is scheduled for just after 7:00 pm from the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Saturday's game will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network (CSN) with an air time of 6:00 pm across six stations. Long-time play-by-play voice Gary Ayers returns alongside WCU Hall of Fame member, Steve White, on the color. CSN also returns producer Jeff Bryson and sideline reporter Greg McLamb for the 2014 season.

Fans can listen to the game locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; and on ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM in Asheville/Canton, as well as 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont/Gaston County.

WCU at USF - Game Day Central

The game will also be broadcast online through ESPN3 with Drew Fellios and former head football coach Doug Graber (Montana State, 1982; Rutgers, 1990-95; Frankfurt Galaxy, NFL Europe) on the call. Live GameTracker (free) and live streaming audio (free) from CSN through Stretch Internet are available online through

The Catamount football team left campus on Thursday evening after a light workout on the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field, bound for the Sunshine State by way of Macon, Ga. The team would complete the nearly 10-hour, 600-mile southerly trek.

"We're excited to have the opportunity to go compete against a quality opponent like South Florida," said WCU third-year head coach Mark Speir during Tuesday's SoCon Teleconference. "Our goal is to go down (to Tampa) and play well. That's what you want any time you tee it up, to have an opportunity going into the fourth quarter to win a ball game."



Speir continued, "Obviously, we are going down there with the mindset to go win a football game. And to do so, you've got to play disciplined - can't have a lot of penalties, turn the ball over, and defensively, you can't give up a lot of big plays. That comes from being a sound, well-conditioned football team. If we do that, you go into any ball game with a chance to win it and that's our plan."

Western Carolina returns 20 starters from the 2013 season including all but one player on offense, eight on defense and two specialists. The Catamounts are expected to play both quarterbacks - junior Troy Mitchell and senior Garrett Brown - against the Bulls. Overall, WCU enters the opener healthy, minus just five players from roster who are serving department levied suspensions.

Both teams enter Saturday's game looking to halt winless droughts - WCU dropped its last three games of 2013, while USF lost the final six games a season ago. Three of WCU's losses a season ago came to Football Subdivision teams - Middle Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Auburn - while USF dropped its home-opener to FCS-foe, McNeese State as a part of four-straight losses to begin the year.

South Florida enters the game following a 2-10 season in 2013 - the first under head coach Willie Taggart, a former player and coach at Western Kentucky and assistant at Stanford. The Bulls' first season of football came in 1997, and USF is just seven years removed from a national No. 2 ranking.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm on Saturday evening.

Western Carolina and USF meet on the football gridiron for the first-time ever to open the 2014 season ... the Catamounts and Bulls have played eight times on the baseball diamond with a 4-4 series record, most recently playing in 2006 ... One of the baseball meetings came in the NCAA East Regional in Tallahassee, Fla. ... The two have only met once on the men's basketball hardwood, a 1989 meeting in the Tampa Tribune Holiday Classic in Tampa - a 78-67 victory for the Bulls;

• WCU's game at South Florida marks the Catamounts' fifth trip to the state of Florida since joining the SoCon in 1976 -Florida State (0-3), Florida (0-1).

• Western Carolina has only faced two current members of the American Athletic Conference - East Carolina and Cincinnati - with each meeting coming prior to the conference being founded;

• WCU is 13-18 all-time against teams currently carrying the American banner, a number bolstered by 30 all-time series meetings with directional rival, East Carolina (13-17) ... WCU nearly pulled the upset against of Cincinnati in 2005, falling by a count of 7-3.

Since becoming NCAA Division I in 1976, Western Carolina is 2-2 in games played on August 30 ... the two wins came at home over Mars Hill with road losses at Appalachian State (1986) and North Carolina State (2003) ... WCU holds a 5-4 all-time record in games played in the month of August.

• Western Carolina dropped to 14-24 in season openers since joining the Southern Conference in 1976 after last season's loss at Middle Tennessee;

• WCU had snapped a string of three-straight losses (at Vanderbilt, at North Carolina State, at Georgia Tech) in openers with the win over Mars Hill to open the 2012 season - the first under head coach Mark Speir;

• WCU won four of five season openers from 2004 through 2008 (W vs. West Virginia State, 2004; Mars Hill, 2005; Chowan, 2006; L at Alabama, 2007 ; W vs. Shorter, 2008) ... Of the 14-24 record in season opening games, Western Carolina is 10-1 when the game is played at home and 4-23 on the road.