Western Carolina third-year head football coach Dennis Wagner spoke with members of the media on the Southern Conference's Football Coaches Teleconference on Tuesday morning where he recapped the preseason and looked ahead to the opening week foe, North Carolina State.
Saturday's opener is set for 6:00 pm at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh before a live, ESPN3.com televised audience. Fans can also follow the action on the Catamount Sports Network across seven stations and online at CatamountSports.com. The Carolina Ford Dealers Pre-game Show begins an hour and a half prior to kickoff, going live from Raleigh at 4:30 pm ET.
"We had a good fall camp - I thought our guys came in in-shape and we were able to have two good weeks before school started," Wagner opened. "It's a great situation for us to go and play North Carolina State. It helps with our recruiting in-state. It gives our boosters and our alumni who live in that part of the state to come and watch us play. Overall, it's a great thing for our kids and we are excited. I'm sure Coach O'Brien will have them ready, but it is something we are looking forward to."
Also on Tuesday, Wagner named returning signal caller Zack Jaynes as the starting quarterback. The Canton, N.C., native earned the spot after battling four other QB's throughout the preseason. Jaynes is the only quarterback on roster that took snaps for the Catamounts a season ago, completing 178-of-304 passes for a career-best 1,790 yards and nine touchdowns.
Wagner was quick to point out that he expects many on the travel squad to make it on the field during Saturday night's game, including back-up quarterback Zac Brindise who played in one collegiate game at South Carolina before transferring to WCU prior to fall camp. Brindise has been the closest competition for Jaynes throughout the preseason with senior transfer Matt Wabby and true freshman Brandon Pechloff also splitting reps through practice.
"There's a lot of guys will get an opportunity to play in this game because there are still a few places where we've got some question marks," said Wagner. "The starters are pretty well in place and there will be some other guys to get on the field so we can evaluate our talent and see where we are at."
Wagner commented that he feels the key defensively for his squad will be to limit North Carolina State's big-play ability, while establishing consistency on offense and to put points on the board. He also mentioned special teams play being critical in making NCSU drive the length of the field while hoping his squad could put itself in favorable field position.
WESTERN CAROLINA VS. N.C. STATE –THE SERIES
Western Carolina trails North Carolina State in the all-time series, 0-5, with all five previous meetings being held in Raleigh ... In the five all-time meetings, WCU has been out- scored 240-to-57 – or an average of 48-to-11.4 per game ... the most recent meeting between the two schools came in 2003 – a 59-20 win for the Phillip Rivers'-led Wolfpack over the Catamounts.
WESTERN CAROLINA IN SEASON OPENERS
Western Carolina is 13-21 in season openers since joining the Southern Conference in 1976 ... WCU has won four of its last six season openers (W vs. West Virginia State, 2004; Mars Hill, 2005; Chowan, 2006; L at Alabama, 2007 ; W vs. Shorter, 2008; L at Vanderbilt, 2009) ... Of the 13-21 record in season opening games, Western is 10-1 when the game is played at home and 4-20 on the road.
WCU ALL-TIME VS. MEMBERS OF THE ACC
Western Carolina is 0-25 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference (see page 5 for more) ... Most recently, WCU played at Florida State in 2008, falling 69-0 to the Seminoles ... Series History with the ACC: Boston College 0-1; Clemson 0-5; Duke 0-3; Florida State 0-3; Georgia Tech 0-4; Maryland 0-1; North Carolina State 0-5; Wake Forest 0-3.
THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE CONNECTION
Founded in 1921, the Southern Conference – the fifth old- est in the nation – gave rise to two of the premier conferences in America – the Southeastern (SEC, founded in 1932) and the Atlantic Coast (ACC) ... NINE of the current 12 ACC teams (minus Miami, Florida State and Boston College) played under the SoCon banner ... North Carolina State was a founding member of the Southern Conference from 1921- 53, posting a 117-163-19 (.423) overall record during its 31 seasons in the league.
THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE IN FCS HISTORY
Since its inception for the 1978 season, the Southern Conference has produced EIGHT FCS (I-AA) national champion- ships, including Furman (1988), Georgia Southern (1999 and 2000), Marshall (1992 and ‘96) and Appalachian State (2005, ‘06, ‘07). (Note: Georgia Southern won four national titles prior to joining the SoCon). Also, on eight different occasions, a SoCon team has finished national runner-up, including Western Carolina in 1983 – WCU was the FIRST SoCon team to play in the National Title game. In 2007, Appalachian State became the first FCS team to de- feat a FCS nationally-ranked Top 25 team when it downed #5 Michigan in Ann Arbor.
TWO RETURNING STARTERS SUSPENDED FOR SEASON OPENER AT NC STATE
Returning offensive wide receiver senior MARQUEL PITTMAN and junior defensive end TREY SELBY will both miss the 2010 season opener for disciplinary reasons due to a violation of team rules ... Pittman is WCU's leading returner at wide receiver while Selby has started 14 career games along the defensive line including 10-straight a year ago ... Selby's is a one-game suspension with Pittman suspended for the first two games.
THE YOUNG WESTERN CAROLINA CATAMOUNTS
Western Carolina's 90-man roster through preseason camp featured 63-percent underclassmen ranging from redshirt sophomore and below: Seniors (16); Juniors (18); Red- shirt Sophomores (7); Sophomores (7); Redshirt Freshmen (15); Freshmen (28).
THREE CATAMOUNTS NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SOUTHERN CONFERENCE
Three Western Carolina football players were named to the 2010 preseason All-Southern Conference teams as selected by the conference's nine head football coaches. Senior defensive back MITCHELL BELL was a first team defensive selection, while classmates MARQUEL PITTMAN and BLAKE BOSTIC were named to their respective second teams. ... It is the third time in the past four years that three Catamounts have earned preseason recognition from the league's head coaches with the preseason accolades representing the first for each of WCU's recipients.
WCU TIGHT END CHRIS EVERETT NOMINATED FOR AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM
Western Carolina redshirt junior tight end Chris Everett is among 112 student-athletes na- tionwide that have been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The 112 nominees are the most ever in the 19-year history of the award which will be announced in late September, eclipsing the 106 nominees from a year ago ... ... Everett, who began his WCU playing career on the defensive side of the ball before converting to tight end prior to last season, will serve as president of WCU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) this year after spending last year as the vice president and his freshman season as a team representative on the committee.
SENIOR PK BLAKE BOSTIC NAMED TO FRED MITCHELL AWARD WATCH LIST
Western Carolina senior placekicker Blake Bostic has been named to the watch list for the 2010 Fred Mitchell Award ... Bostic is one of 40 kickers on the list for the award that includes NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Division II, III and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) collegiate place-kickers that were nominated by their colleges for excellence on the football field and in the community ... Of the 40, Bostic is one of 15 from the FCS level and the lone nominee from the Southern Conference ... He is also one of 21 seniors on the watch list.
CATAMOUNT FOOTBALL ROAD WOES
Dating back to the 2000 season, Western Carolina has only won 11 games away from Cullowhee ... WCU has lost 24 of its last 26 games away from Cullowhee – the only two victories during that span are last year at Eastern Kentucky and in 2008 at Presbyterian ... The Catamounts have lost 16-straight SoCon road contests, last winning at Chattanooga in 2005 – BUT, did snap its eight-game road game losing skid at EKU in ‘09.