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    WCU works out in shoulder pads for the first time this preseason. Submitted • Catamount Athletics

Catamount football begins season

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Business started to pick-up on Sunday, Aug. 4 as the Western Carolina football team put on shoulder pads for the first time this preseason for practice No. 3 on the turf at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field. Working out in shells, the team practiced for right at two hours following an afternoon of meetings. 

“With the first day in shoulder pads, the tempo and enthusiasm picks up even more. We had a lot of good execution out here today,” said Catamount head football coach Mark Speir. “Again, the defense was flying around out here and that’s what we’ve been stressing and straining. On offense, we’ve got to be more consistent. I thought we’ve hit some really good plays. At times, we’ve really run the ball well, but we’ve just got to be more consistent.” 

Speir continued by saying that he’s been very impressed with the conditioning of the team entering this year’s fall camp, crediting Director of Athletic Performance, Evan Barr, and his staff. 

Speir has also been impressed with the mentality and the leadership his players have displayed through the early part of the 2019 preseason camp. 

“Right now, it’s just starting to feel like midseason practice; it’s not really feeling like fall camp,” said WCU redshirt senior quarterback Tyrie Adams, one of the leaders Speir alluded to. “When we come out and work as hard as we did in the summer, practice now, it’s almost like it’s second nature. Everyone knows the playbook already, the freshmen coming in feeling comfortable with what we want to install.” 

Adams also added that improvement is all about accountability – and not just players being accountable to the coaching staff, but also to each other regardless of class standing on the roster. 

When asked about the first three days of the 2019 preseason camp, second-year defensive back Ronald Kent said Sunday that he feels the start of this year’s fall camp has been “way different than last” year as a true freshman. 

“The intensity has been higher, everything is fast. On defense, we’re all running to the ball,” said Kent. “We’re all just giving maximum effort. Whatever you’re doing, the coaches have told us to go to the extreme point of effort.” 

Four quarterbacks split reps on Sunday between unit and team drills. Amidst 7-on-7 skelly drills, WCU’s signal-callers distributed the ball to eight different receivers highlighted by a pair of catches by WR D.J. Thorpe and Ferguson hauling in two from the backfield. The two biggest gainers came on a connection from QB Bubba Williamson to a streaking tight end Caleb Woodard who rumbled for a big gain towards pay dirt, and WR Daquan Patten who ran a beautiful route before Adams dropped the ball to him in stride where he found the end zone.

By Daniel Hooker Guest writer

Clay County Progress

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