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Notes from Tuesday's (Oct. 25) SoCon Football Teleconference

Oct. 25, 2011

Related Link: Wagner's Audio from Tuesday's SoCon Teleconference

Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head football coach Dennis Wagner spent time with members of the media on Tuesday morning's Southern Conference Head Football Coaches' Teleconference. He reflected on last Saturday's home defeat against The Citadel and also looked ahead to this Saturday's road trip against the second-straight Bulldog at Samford. Kickoff is set for 2:00 pm CT / 3:00 pm ET.

Saturday's game will be broadcast by the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 96.7 FM WNCC in Franklin; 920 AM WPTL in Canton and 1600 AM WTZQ in Hendersonville. Fans can also catch the CSN call through a live, free audio stream through Stretch Internet online at Air time for the radio broadcast is 2:00 pm ET.

Wagner opened his time on the teleconference by discussing last week's Homecoming game against The Citadel.

"I thought The Citadel did a nice job on some things early that we hadn't seen offensively, so defensively we had to make some adjustments. Our guys settled in and did a much better job after the first quarter, but offensively, we just didn't get any rhythm or get the ball moving so it forced our defense to be out there a lot. It really put our back to the wall, didn't really give us an opportunity. And then, we turned the ball over a couple of times that hurt us," Wagner said.

Looking ahead, Wagner called Saturday's opponent - the Samford Bulldogs - a "much-improved football team."

"(Samford) is always very solid, very well coached," said Wagner. "As it is every week, this is a huge game for both teams to come away with a victory and I'm sure they're ready for Western Carolina to be there Saturday."

Wagner was also asked about improvements that need to be made offensively coming off the lowest total yardage out-put of the season with 236 yards - partially because of the +14 in time of possession The Citadel's run-oriented, ball-control triple-option commanded last weekend.



"We've just got to do a better job on first and second downs so we don't put ourselves in a bad situation," said Wagner. "You can't go backwards - you've got to continue to move forward. We're a lot better when we're efficient on first and second down rather than putting ourselves in third and long."

After sustaining injuries to starting offensive lineman Teddy Rhoney - who had started 28-straight games up front - and redshirt senior wide receiver Josh Cockrell in consecutive games, the Catamounts hope to have redshirt sophomore Deja Alexander back in the line-up this weekend. The Jacksonville, Fla., native who continues to lead the team with 29 receptions for 414 yards has been sidelined with a nagging ankle injury.

Wagner and the Catamounts will also look for an improvement in the rushing attack after being limited to 61 yards on 38 attempts a week ago. Freshman Shaun Warren leads the team with 48.4 yards per game and five touchdowns on the ground while Michael Vaughn (35.4 ypg) and Michael Johnson (34.4 ypg) back up the Catamount rushing attack.

Defensively, the Catamounts will look to slow the SoCon's third-best offense as the Bulldogs are averaging 401.1 yards per game that includes taking over WCU's spot as the second-best passing offense at 233.7 yards per outing. Senior quarterback Dustin Taliaferro ranks second in the league in passing (218.0 ypg) while sophomore running back Fabian Truss ranks fourth with an average of 93.4 yards on the ground per game.

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 2:00 pm CT / 3:00 pm ET.