Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina football concludes its 2016 regular season on Saturday afternoon as the Catamounts travel to Williams-Brice Stadium to face directional rival, South Carolina. On this week's installment of "Catamount Football Weekly," WCU head coach Mark Speir talks about his squad finishing the 2016 campaign strong while looking ahead to the match-up with the SEC's Gamecocks.
Saturday's game will be broadcast on the SEC Network Alternate channel and will also be available on the WatchESPN app. Anish Shroff and former Texas cornerback Ahmad Brooks will have the call.
Catamount Sports Network coverage begins at 3:00 pm with the Pepsi Tailgate Show. Fans can listen to all of the CSN action locally on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 104.9 FM and 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; ESPN Radio 1310 / 970 AM and 97.3 in Asheville/Canton; and in Gaston County on 1270 AM WCGC. Live streaming audio is available through Stretch Internet, online at CatamountSports.com.
The Catamount Club's Purple Zone Tailgate, presented by the Cullowhee River Club, will be near the Spurrier Indoor Facility just off of National Guard Road beginning at 1:30 pm. In the theme of Thanksgiving, the Stray Cats Tailgating Group and the Catamount Club will be collecting canned food items at the South Carolina football tailgate party to be donated to families in need in Jackson County. If planning to attend the tailgate/game, please consider bringing a canned food to support the cause.
Saturday marks Western Carolina's second game against a NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent as the Catamounts opened the season at another directional foe, East Carolina. The Pirates represent the only other common opponent between WCU and South Carolina -- WCU fell at ECU, 52-7, to open the 2016 season while South Carolina edged the Pirates, 20-15, in Columbia on Sept. 17.
Western Carolina and South Carolina have met four times previously on the football gridiron with each meeting coming in succession between 1986 and 1989 in Columbia. The Catamounts trail in the all-time series, 0-4, with WCU's best showing coming in the first meeting in 1986 -- a 45-24 Gamecock victory, though it was a four-point, 21-17, affair at halftime.
The Catamounts look to pull a second-consecutive Southern Conference upset of the Gamecocks as last season, Palmetto State foe, The Citadel, walked out of Williams-Brice Stadium with a stunning, 23-22, victory. An upset would be the first of its kind for WCU as the Catamounts are winless against FBS competition all-time. Included in that number is a 0-18 mark against teams currently in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) -- a league which found its roots in the Southern Conference, forming from league members in 1932. Though not a founding member in 1921, South Carolina did join the SoCon in 1922.
Including Saturday's game, WCU has faced a SEC opponent in football for five-consecutive seasons including Alabama in 2012 and 2014, Auburn in 2013, and last year's two meetings at Tennessee and Texas A&M. The Gamecocks represent WCU's 10th meeting against the SEC dating back to 2006.
This season, a combined 10 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams have upset their FBS brethren. Entering this weekend, the SoCon has a total of 29 wins over current FBS teams with five of those wins coming against the SEC including three over South Carolina -- two by The Citadel in 1992 and 2015, and Furman in 1982.
Kickoff is scheduled for just after 4:00 pm.
Additional Game Notes:
CATAMOUNT INDIVIDUAL NOTES:
Junior tailback Detrez Newsome has rushed for 916 yards this season, entering the South Carolina game needing just 84 yards to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for a second-consecutive season ... Only two WCU running backs since 1967 have posted consecutive 1,000-yard seasons -- Darrell Lipford (1,074 in 1976 and 1,318 in 1977) and Brad Hoover (1,663 in 1998 and 1,025 in 1999) ... Newsome twice rushed for over 100 yards last year against SEC competition, tallying 128 yards at Tennessee and 111 at Texas A&M;
Newsome enters the weekend LEADING the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in all-purpose yards with a SoCon-leading average of 197.80 yards per game ... He has recorded 100-or-more all-purpose yards in 13-straight games dating back to last season;
Western Carolina redshirt freshman quarterback Tyrie Adams is a candidate for both the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, but also the Jerry Rice Award which is handed out by STATS for the National Freshman of the Year ... Adams has thrown for 2,437 yards to date, a mark that ranks sixth in WCU's single-season record books, while his 15 seasonal TD passes rank his seventh in the school ledgers ... His 2,702 yards of total offense rank him sixth in the single-season records;
Adams is also the top-ranked freshman nationally in FOUR statistical categories including completion percentage (12th, 64.8%), completions per game (18th, 21.00), passing yards (18th, 2,437), and total offense (20th, 270.3 yds/gm).
FAMILIAR FACES IN WESTERN CAROLINA - SOUTH CAROLINA MEETING:
South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, who played football for WCU archrival Appalachian State, was on the App State coaching staff along with several of WCU's coaches including head coach Mark Speir and offensive coordinator, Brad Glenn ... Elliott also coached two of WCU's current assistants in offensive line coach / run game coordinator, John Holt, and tight ends coach / special teams coordinator, Pat Mills;
Holt and Mills personify their former position coach by approaching the game with intensity and passion ... the two carried Elliott's "pregame tradition" of getting his linemen fired up to Cullowhee -- keep an eye out on both ends of the field as both offensive line units "battle" their respective coaches prior to each game;
WCU first-year assistant coach Blake Gideon -- who has assumed a larger role within the Catamount defense with the staff changes -- has ties with South Carolina head coach, Will Muschamp ... Gideon played for Muschamp when he was the defensive coordinator at Texas, with Gideon's first coaching stint on the defensive quality control staff specializing with the secondary coming under Muschamp at Florida ... Gideon followed Muschamp to Auburn in 2015 in a similar capacity, and eventually to South Carolina before coming to Cullowhee.