2013 Opponent Preview: Western Carolina

Western Carolina should be a breather for the Auburn Tigers as the Catamounts have won just one game each of the last two seasons.

It was a long football season in Cullowhee, N.C., in 2012 and the same is expected in year two of the Mark Speir Era at Western Carolina University after the Catamounts lost their last 10 games of the season to finish 1-10.

The only win came against Division II Mars Hill. In fact, the last two seasons the only two wins for the program have been against Mars Hill. Western Carolina's last Division I victory came on Oct. 2, 2010 vs. The Citadel.

Allowing 40.8 points and 514 yards of total offense per contest, WCU's defense has a lot of work to do after losing four starters in the front seven off last year's team. That may prove to be a good thing, however, after the Catamounts allowed 38 or more points nine times last season.

The good news is that Southern Conference All-Freshman Team members Troy Mitchell and Darius Ramsey return to lead the offense. Mitchell threw for 852 yards in five starts at quarterback while sharing time with fellow returner Eddie Sullivan, but was also the team's second leading rusher with 433 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Ramsey started just four games, but ran for 503 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns on just 111 attempts.

Top Offensive Player

Mitchell is the key for the Western Carolina offense after a solid freshman season. A threat on the ground, his eight rushing touchdowns were the most ever for a Catamount quarterback. His ability to run and throw should allow him to hold off the junior Sullivan, who threw for 979 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Top Defensive Player

Ace Clark is a talented safety who has the size and speed to make plays all over the field. Just a sophomore, the 6-3, 205 Clark made 88 tackles and added two interceptions last season. Also back is linebacker Courtland Carson. WCU's second leading tackler in 2012 with 97 stops, he led the team with six tackles for losses.

Schedule Tough Stretch

When you have won just two games the last two seasons the entire schedule is a tough stretch for a program looking to get back on the winning track. It will be tough to build confidence for the Catamounts to open the season with road games at Middle Tennessee and Virginia Tech followed by a home game vs. The Citadel in week three.

After a game against Mars Hill, three more road games follow for the Catamounts at Samford, Chattanooga and finishing against Auburn. For a team needing to build confidence that is not the schedule to accomplish that goal.

Newcomer To Watch

Needing better play up front on defense, incoming freshman Kelvin Ume could help the Catamounts immediately. The 6-3, 260 end/tackle from North Cobb High in Georgia is a physical player who should be able to make some noise early for the Western Carolina defense.

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