Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 Football Preview: Western Carolina

This article is part of a series previewing the Terriers' 2014 football opponents.  Wofford's SoCon slate continues with WCU.

The Terriers will travel to Cullowhee, North Carolina, on October 11 to face the Western Carolina Catamounts.  This will be Wofford's second SoCon game and the sixth contest overall.

The Catamounts have fallen on some tough times lately.  From 2011 to 2012, WCU only won two games, both against Division II Mars Hill(NC).  Last season, the Catamounts made a slight improvement, finishing with a 2-10(1-7 SoCon) record.  In addition to the now-yearly win against Mars Hill, Western Carolina notched a SoCon win over Elon.

The Catamounts are led by Mark Speir, who took over for Dennis Wagner in 2012. The last time WCU defeated the Terriers was in 2005, the 24-0 game that was the last time Wofford was shut out before GWU won 3-0 last year.

Western Carolina's 2013 Season

Western Carolina kicked off their 2013 campaign with two "money games" against FBS teams.  Both Middle Tennessee State and Virginia Tech put up 45 points against the Catamounts' 24 and 3, respectively. After The Citadel won a close 28-21 matchup in Cullowhee, WCU beat Mars Hill 30-23. Four straight losses ensued. SoCon road trips to Samford(63-23) and Chattanooga(42-21) preceded a 62-3 battering at the hands of Auburn. Wofford did not have an easy time at WCU by any stretch. The Terriers needed a fourth quarter touchdown and tough defensive endurance to escape Cullowhee with a 21-17 victory. The week after this game, the Catamounts snapped their streak of thirty-three straight Division I losses and twenty-six SoCon defeats with a 27-24 overtime win against Elon.  Losses to Georgia Southern(35-19), Furman(32-20), and Appalachian State(48-27) ended the season.

The Game

Although the Catamounts have only recorded four victories in three seasons, WCU nearly had their way with the Terriers last year and are not an adversary to sleep on.  Wofford has a history of getting caught up in games that are too close to call until the end, and I don't expect this one to be much different.  The Terriers need to play smart, execute the option while being mindful of avoiding mistakes, and have some serious grit on the defensive end to cement their place in an uncertain SoCon.

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