Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina sixth-year head coach Mark Speir sat down for a video conversation to reflect upon the 2017 season in this season's final installment of "Catamount Football Weekly." In addition to looking back at the successful turnaround year, Speir also looked forward to the upcoming important recruiting season and a pair of National Signing Dates including Dec. 20-22 and Feb. 7, 2018.
A few of the team highlight notes from the 2017 season:
- Western Carolina posted its third, seven-win season in the past four years, turning around a 2-9 year in 2016 with seven victories ... the Catamounts finished fourth in the Southern Conference after being picked sixth by the league's head coaches and seventh by the voting media;
- A combined 13 different Catamounts received All-Southern Conference accolades including five earning honors from both the league's head coaches and voting media -- four of which earned first-team plaudits from both ... the 13 honorees is tied for third-most in program history, matching the 1984 team -- WCU had 16 players recognized following the 2015 season and 15 in 2014 ... A total of 10 Catamounts were recognized by the league's head coaches with WCU putting eight on the media all-conference team;
- WCU earned nine weekly honors from the Southern Confernece during the regular season -- five coming on offense, three on defense, and one special teams award ... Redshirt sophomore QB Tyrie Adams was honored three times as the SoCon's Offensive Player of the Week, with senior RB Detrez Newsome earning the award twice ... Three different defensive players collected weekly awards including DB Keion Crossen, LB Tahjai Watt, and DB John Brannon III ... Placekicker Joshua Gibson collected WCU's lone special teams honor following his heroic performance in the road win at VMI, scoring 14 points that included booting a career-high four field goals including two of 40-or-more yards;
- WCU had 21 seniors honored in the final home game, each playing their final game in the Purple & Gold at North Carolina ... Among those 21 are 12 that were regulars among the Catamount starting line-up including four on offense and eight on defense;
- Western Carolina finished the year with a school-record of 389 points scored, supplanting the previous benchmark of 370 set by the 1983 national runner-up team in 15 total games ... the Catamount offense rushed for 24 touchdowns -- the most since scoring a school-record 25 in 2001, and tied with the 1994 Catamounts for the second-most in program history ... WCU's 23 passing TDs were the most since 1992 when the team also had 23 scores through the air, both tied with the 1974 team for the second-most behind the school-record, 24 passing TDs set in 1983;
- WCU's offense obliterated the school benchmark for rushing yards in a single-season, finishing 2017 with 2,772 yards on the ground -- the most all-time, surpassing the previous school record of 2,436 set in 1993 ... It was WCU's eighth, 2,000+ yard rushing season collectively as a team ... WCU's 2,515 passing yards finished as its lowest output through the air since 2012 -- but represents a fifth-consecutive season of 2,500-or-more passing yards under offensive coordinator, Brad Glenn;
- All told, WCU's total offensive yardage output of 5,287 ranks second in the school record books behind the 5,333 yads set by the 1983 team, and is just the third-time a WCU offense has amassed 5,000-or-more yards in a single-season ... WCU's average of 440.6 yards of total offense per game ranks fourth in program history behind the teams in 1994 (467.7 yds/gm), 1969 (451.1 yds/gm), and 2000 (448.1 yds/gm) ... the Catamounts led the SoCon in total offense in the 2017 regular season;
- Under first-year defensive coordinator John Wiley, the Catamount defense limited opponents to 1,982 yards passing -- the fewest by WCU opponents since 2011 (1,931 yards) ... WCU's 165.2 yards passing allowed per game average ranked second in the SoCon ... WCU came-up with 13 interceptions as a team, the most by a Catamount defense since recording 14 back in 2006 ... the team also created 12 fumbles with 10 takeaways ... All told, WCU scored 87 points off of its 23 takeaways.