What to expect from the Catamounts this season

 Article was co-written with Chris Lang

Detrez Newsome, running back, running for a touchdown. Photo taken by Danny Ranz.

After a disappointing 2016 season, the Catamounts are hungry for vengeance this upcoming season.

Their annual spring game, practices, and weight training sessions are showing that there is a chance for a good rebound come Fall 2017.

The spring game on March 18 was the Catamounts’ first test for the players and coaches on the readiness of the team.
Players were broken into first and second team offense and first and second team defense. First team consisted of starting players while second team consisted of bench players. Both sides of the ball had some high and low points, but most importantly there were not a lot of penalties awarded which is something Mark Speir, head coach, looks for.

“Our defense did a really good job of limiting big play opportunities,” said coach Speir. “They didn’t have too many breakdowns and played outstanding coverage. I’m really proud of how they played.”

See more images from the spring game.

Good news for Western fans, returning starting quarterback Tyrie Adams played an efficient game, ending with 272 yards off of 17-of-29 passes and two touchdowns, one of which was a 34 yard dagger to wide receiver Steffon Hill, according to catamountsports.com. Adams had 34 rushing yards, including a game-long 22-yard rush.

“Tyrie looked a lot more comfortable and you can easily tell he has improved,” said coach Speir. “He had a couple of mistakes but completed some good passes, especially that long ball to Hill in their last possession.”

Spring game. Photo taken by Danny Ranz.

As important as the spring game is, it only displays a fraction of what fans should be expecting in the upcoming season. Since the spring game, the football team has many practices and weightlifting sessions and five months before the season starts so a lot can change since their scrimmage.

“I would say that the spring game isn’t a very accurate indication of what will happen in the fall, because we still have another month of preparation, and a big freshman recruiting class coming in the fall with a lot of guys who are going to be good for us,” said Alexander Murphy, Offensive and Special Teams Student Assistant.

Another boost for WCU has been the addition of new defensive coordinator John Wiley. Wiley previously served as assistant coach for Appalachian State University and was hired last December.

“The new DC, John Wiley has helped our defense take massive strides from where we were last season,” said Murphy. “Wiley has multiple national championships, as well as years and years of coaching experience, and I believe things for our defense will only get better with him on our staff.”

Wiley’s impact on the program was shown during the spring game when his first team defense recorded two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and his second team defense recording an interception to end the game.

With multiple returning starters and a new defensive coordinator, expectations are high for the Catamounts this upcoming season as they try to have a better season than last year. Western opens the season against Hawaii on Sep. 2 in Honolulu.