Nov. 6, 2007
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina head football coach Kent Briggs today spoke with members of the media on the Southern Conference Football Coaches' Weekly Teleconference. He talked about the upcoming rivalry matchup with Appalachian State, and about the future of the Catamount football program.
The Catamounts are coming off a bye week, and have had two weeks to rest up and prepare for the annual "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug" when they travel to Boone, N.C. to face archrival Appalachian State on Saturday, November 10. The Catamounts will look to snap several streaks that day as WCU has dropped five-straight this season, have 12-consecutive road losses, 13-straight in SoCon play and have not won in Boone over their mountain-rival since 1984 (L-11).
The game also marks Western's second-straight game on ESPNU, following last Thursday's nationally televised game against Wofford. The network will play this week's game from ASU's Kidd-Brewer Stadium on tape delay, airing at 10:30 pm Saturday night. It will also be the fifth out of six televised game for the Catamounts this season, with the season finale against Furman to be carried on CSS.
The WCU-ASU game will mark the sixth time since 1978 that the Catamounts have appeared on the ESPN family, including parent company, ABC. Western's first-ever television appearance came regionally on ABC in 1978 against Appalachian State in Cullowhee. The following year, 1979, in just the second game ever telecasted by ESPN, Western dropped a close 35-27 affair with the archrival Mountaineers in Boone.
This will be the 72nd all-time meeting between Western and Appalachian State, with the moonshine jug replica trophy to be awarded for the 32nd time in the series. In the mid-1980s, Sports Illustrated called the WCU-ASU series "the best football rivalry you've never heard of," and in 2004 the Jug was mentioned in another article by the magazine about the great rivalry trophies in the nation.
The Catamounts (1-8, 0-5 SoCon) come into Saturday's game with the nation's 18th-best passing offense, averaging 262.2 yards per game, which is good for second in the conference behind Elon. Leading the way in the air for WCU is senior Eddie Cohen
, who is second in the SoCon and fifth in the NCAA in receiving yards per game, with an average of 106.6 for the year. His 54 catches rank him 20th nationally, and he is only five receptions shy of tenth place in WCU's single-season record books.
Defensively, two-time Southern Conference Player of the Week Quinton Phillips leads the Catamounts against the conference's top statistical offense. ASU leads the SoCon in total offense, averaging 465.1 yards per game, and is top five in both rushing and passing yards per game. Phillips will look to continue his break out season for the Catamounts, which has seen him average 11.2 tackles per game, good for 12th in the country, and includes double-digit tackles in his last five contests.
Attention All Catamount Fans: the Catamount Club will host a pre-game tailgate event in the parking lot of the Comfort Suites in Boone this Saturday from 11:30 am until 2:00 pm. There is a free shuttle bus from the parking lot to the stadium area ... Look for the Purple & Gold tent at the Comfort Suites - 1184 Hwy. 105 in Boone.
Here is an exerpt of Coach Briggs from today's teleconference.
On the intensity of rivalry games, especially the ASU game:
"For us it's always been like this. It's kind of like a one game season for us, for our fans, our alumni. You can throw the records out when we play Appalachian. This year is another big one. They're playing for a championship and a playoff opportunity. We're playing for pride. Winning the jug is really big for us. We feel that this is a one game season. We just tell our kids, go and play your hearts out for a big game for the program."
On the past 20 years, since the death of Coach Bob Waters and the hiring of ASU Coach Jerry Moore:
"You look at that Coach Moore, he has been there since then. Look at his staff staying together, I don't think that he's lost too many assistant coaches over the years. He's done a great job of keeping his program together, even thorough some tough years. People kept believing in him, and look now he has two national championships. Coach Waters was doing the same thing. We didn't lose any coaches in those years. I think if he hadn't been sick those last years, we would have won a few national championships, with the level of play we were at. I believe that there are a lot of people that love this program, that work hard to make it better, and will look to do a lot to make this program right. You should see a lot of improvements in Western Carolina football these next few years."
On the prospects for next season:
"I think there have been periods where we've been successful. You've got be at the top each year, and we haven't been there and we need to do that. It's going to change and I look forward to the future. You look at our freshman, and they are going to make a difference very soon. Next year, I also think that they schedule is set up to give us some good momentum. I think that there is no way that this team won't win a lot ballgames next season."
On the bye week:
"There is no doubt, it's good to have week off before we play ASU. You wish you could have two or three weeks before every game to prepare, but I think our players are ready to play. Our coaches have had a good opportunity to get a good game plan, and our players have had a chance to heal up. Our schedule was a little thrown off, playing on a Thursday night then having the bye week, so it's been a while since we played. We had to keep the intensity up last week, had to have a good practice week to stay in good game rhythm for this weekend."