By Todd Vinyard, Special to CatamountSports.com
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina University coach Mark Speir feels good about his offense this season. That feeling only grew after a record-breaking 63-17 win Saturday against Davidson at E.J. Whitmire Stadium/Bob Waters Field.
"This offense can be as explosive as any I've been around," Speir said. "It is about us executing and doing what we need to do. We always need to be sure the Cats don’t beat the Cats."
The Catamounts (1-1) did just that against the visitors from Davidson. Senior running back Detrez Newsome had a career-high 288 yards to break his own single-game rushing record at WCU along with a career-best three rushing touchdowns in a game. The Cats 778 total yards was the most since 711 against Emory & Henry in 1969.
Speir points to better decision making by sophomore quarterback Tyrie Adams as one of the keys to success on offense.
"Last year, he would get locked in on one receiver and try to make the home run ball happen instead of taking what the defense was giving him," Speir said. "Not this year. In the first two games, he has only made one bad decision where he threw a pick in the Hawai’i game. Tyrie knew as soon as he threw it he shouldn't have. He made good reads all night (against Davidson). We've got some good players surrounding him like Detrez, the receivers, and offensive line. "
A year of experience and hard work over the summer are paying off for Adams, who was the Week One Southern Conference Player of the Week and has thrown for more than 200 yards each of the first two games in 2017.
"We try to take what the defense gives us," Adams said. "The coaches have given me some room to work with and check off into plays. The coaches are more comfortable with me taking that role from the work I've put in, and they have confidence in me."
"When (Davidson) went man coverage we tried to take advantage every time," Robinson said. "When they did that because Tyrie was right on target every single time."
Adams has no favorites with several potential WCU receiving targets, and the Catamount running backs also provide multiple options behind the team's offensive line. Corey Holloway (16 attempts for 119 yards) and Newsome both churned out yards.
"All the credit goes to the offensive line," said Newsome, who made his touchdown runs untouched. “I give all the thanks to them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have had that type of game.”
There was plenty of credit to share after the home opening victory and smiles, including the Catamounts being excited to see signee Cameron Brown in Cullowhee. The former Florida High linebacker was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer that forced the amputation of his left leg during the late summer. Brown and his family were on campus for the game this weekend.
"It was awesome to have Cam Brown with us this weekend," said Speir, whose weekend was a good with the celebration of his 22nd wedding anniversary to wife Paige and his son Zeb getting his first playing time at Appalachian State. "Cam is battling cancer, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He has been inspiring to our team. It is great to have him here."
Along with being happy to have Brown on campus and the offensive performance WCU is enjoying seeing the play on the defensive side of the ball. The defense led by experienced coach John Wiley has made the right in game adjustments in the opening games. After Davidson scored 14 points in the second quarter, they managed only three in the final two-quarters.
"We are miles ahead of where we were last year, and are playing hard and fast," Speir said. "I do think we need to tackle better. I'm pleased with where we are at and we have along way to go."
The next stop on the journey is a visit to Gardner-Webb on Sept. 16. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on WMYA-TV, My40. WCU beat The Runnin’ Bulldogs 44-14 at home last year. Gardner-Webb (0-2) is led by senior quarterback Tyrell Maxwell, who was named Big South Conference Offensive Player of the Year last season. It’s the final test for the Cats before beginning Southern Conference play.
“We want to do the same thing we did tonight (in the Davidson win) minus a few minor mistakes on special teams and a few misreads on my part,” quarterback Adams said. ‘We had some three and outs and that is unacceptable. It is going to happen and other teams play hard just like we do, which we understand. But our goal is to be perfect. No man is perfect, but we want to be perfect and we try to be perfect.”
- According to the latest NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) football statistics released on Sunday, thanks to its school-record 778 yards against Davidson, Western Carolina LEADS the NCAA in total offense with an average of 630.0 yards per game;
- WCU's offensive unit also ranks third in first downs gained (56) and in rushing offense (347.5 yds/gm);
- Detrez Newsome currently LEADS the NCAA in all-purpose yards, averaging 217.0 per game while also ranking fourth in the nation in rushing average (157.5 yds/gm) and third in yards per carry (10.86) ... He has surpassed the 100-yard all-purpose mark in 16-straight games;
- QB Tyrie Adams ranks third nationally in passer efficiency (182.1) while averaging the 10th-best yards per completion (16.48) and ninth in total offense average (325.0 yds/gm);
- Redshirt junior punter Ian Berryman ranks second in the nation with a SoCon-leading average of 46.8 yards per kick.