Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Giving It Another Look: Western Carolina

It's time to take another look at Wofford's 2014 football schedule, which we will continue with Western Carolina. You can read our new non-conference preview here and earlier previews here.

Honestly, it's been a rough ride for the Catamounts lately. WCU has only notched four wins since 2011, and three of those four were against Division II foe Mars Hill. The other, an overtime triumph over Elon last season, served as the squad's first SoCon (or, for that matter, Division I) win since 2010.

This season, Mark Speir is entering his third season at the helm in Cullowhee, a position he succeeded from Dennis Wagner, who was 8-36 (2-14 SoCon) during his four seasons with the Catamounts.

The Terriers have notched eight straight wins over WCU, but this (along with the recent struggles) does not necessarily mean an easy outing for Wofford. Last season in Cullowhee, the Terriers had to pull off a goal-line stand for the second straight week (the previous week saw a homecoming win over Elon) and a second-half comeback that included this 83-yard run by Michael Weimer to secure the 21-17 victory.

If the past is any herald to our future, we should be in for another slugfest this October 11th in Cullowhee.

Last season, WCU was outscored by their opponents 467-235, averaging only 19.6 points per game, while giving up an average of 38.9 points per game. On the other hand, the Terriers were outscored 274-233, and, although we failed to put up any more of an offensive production (note that the Catamounts actually scored two more points than Wofford), opponents averaged only 24.9 points per game to our 21.2, a much closer statistic, showing just how close we could have been, if it wasn't for our late-season lack of production and missed opportunities.

WCU was relatively pass heavy last season also, averaging 221.2 passing yards a game, compared to their 138.7 yards per game gained on rushes. The latter stat pales in comparison to the Terriers' 269.9 yards per game, although they only averaged 85.4 passing yards per game, which is unimpressive compared to the Catamounts' average.

However, the rush has most often been the Terriers' friend; that is, if we can piece together efficient drives that are backed by capable defense.

Despite their unimpressive recent history, the Catamounts were clearly more competitive last season, and look to only improve from there. The Terriers cannot afford to let WCU become a major roadblock this season, and for now, at least, it seems that if Wofford plays smart and dynamic, they can pull out a helpful win that will also serve as a morale booster for the rest of the conference slate.

Early Pick: Wofford 34, Western Carolina 21

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