College Football Week 8, 2021: Thursday notes and observations

The Citadel’s game notes for the WCU game

Western Carolina’s game notes for its game versus The Citadel

SoCon weekly release

The Brent Thompson Show (10/20/21)

Tuesday notes and observations: this post focuses on The Citadel’s future non-conference football schedules, including a rather curious opponent on the 2022 slate

Wednesday notes and observations: a comparison of The Citadel’s and Western Carolina’s statistics for this season, followed by an in-depth look at FCS stats from a national perspective (including a link to my working spreadsheet for FCS statistics)

Broadcast information

Western Carolina at The Citadel, to be played on Sansom Field at historic Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina, with kickoff at 2:00 pm ET on October 23, 2021.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+. Play-by-play will be handled by Kevin Fitzgerald, while Jason Kempf supplies the analysis.

The contest can be heard on radio via The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. Other stations carrying the game include WQXL in Columbia (100.7 FM/1470 AM) and WDXY in Sumter (105.9 FM/1240 AM).

Luke Mauro (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze.

“Live Stats” for the game

An article in The Post and Courier co-authored by Jeff Hartsell describes some of the issues current high school football players are having as they strive to receive college scholarships. It includes quotes from Brent Thompson, who discussed the situation in some detail during his Monday press conference.

Thompson noted that The Citadel has about 20 offers out right now to high school players, a drop of 80% from last season — and that is despite being, as the coach pointed out, “a high school recruiting program”. Other schools more inclined to take undergraduate transfers will likely offer (and ultimately sign) even fewer prep prospects.

The Bulldogs’ head coach was empathetic to the plight of the high schoolers: “It’s tough, I don’t really like where things are right now.”

Roster review:

–  Of the 112 players on The Citadel’s online roster, 61 are from South Carolina. Other states represented: Georgia (18 players), Florida (11), North Carolina (9), Virginia (4), Alabama (2), Texas (2), and one each from New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Tight end Hayden Williamson played his high school football in Okinawa, Japan.

– There are 113 players on Western Carolina’s online roster. Of those, 44 are from North Carolina. Others in the squad hail from the following states: South Carolina (24 players), Georgia (19), Florida (9), Alabama (5), Pennsylvania (3), Tennessee (3), Virginia (2), and one each from Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio.

New head coach Kerwin Bell has had to rebuild WCU’s roster on the fly, so the speak, and has brought in quite a few transfers to do so. There are 24 players who arrived in Cullowhee via other four-year schools, and 7 others who transferred into the program from junior colleges. Nineteen of those transfers are on Western Carolina’s two-deep.

Seven of those transfers began their collegiate careers at either Tusculum or Valdosta State. Offensive coordinator Kade Bell previously served as OC at both of those schools (2016-18 at Valdosta State, and 2020 at Tusculum; he spent the 2019 campaign as an analyst at South Florida).

Kerwin Bell was the head coach at Valdosta State during the three seasons his son was the offensive coordinator at that school; in his third and final season, he led the Blazers to a 14-0 record and the Division II national championship.

Rogan Wells played for the Bells at Valdosta State, and then transferred to Tusculum for the 2021 spring season. Wells had a glittering career at quarterback for Valdosta State, fashioning a 28-3 record as a starter (including the aforementioned national title).

However, he did not play in WCU’s last game, a 34-24 loss at Mercer two weeks ago due to injury. If Wells is not ready by Saturday, Carlos Davis (who started against the Bears) will be the QB against The Citadel. Davis came to WCU from East Mississippi Community College.

  • Wells’ stat line: 104 for 199 (52.3%), averaging 5.60 yards per attempt, with 6 TD passes and 9 interceptions
  • Davis’ stat line: 39 for 66 (59.1%), averaging 7.32 yards per attempt, with 3 TD passes and 4 interceptions

Western Carolina’s adjusted yards per pass play (which includes sacks) is 5.39; Catamount QBs have been sacked 16 times. All told, 59.4% of WCU’s offensive plays have been passes. The Catamounts average 44.3 pass attempts per game, sixth-most in FCS. 

WCU quarterbacks have thrown thirteen interceptions, tied with Valparaiso for third-most in the country, behind only Presbyterian and Dixie State. Western Carolina is the 10th-fastest offense in the subdivision (22.53 seconds per offensive play). 

I mentioned most of the pertinent stats for Western Carolina’s defense in the Wednesday post, but I did want to note that WCU’s defensive Havoc Rate is 13.96%, which is below average but actually ahead of several SoCon squads (including The Citadel’s). As discussed, league defenses have really struggled to produce disruptive and negative plays this season.

I might have one more post before kickoff on Saturday. I do not yet have the lines for FCS games this weekend; if I get the numbers in time, I’ll probably write something about them.

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