Much needed cupcake game could not come at a better time.
Western Carolina Defense:
The Western Carolina Catamounts are bad. Overall, they rank as the second worst team in the Southern Conference. Against Power 5 teams, they have been outscored 41-0 this season. Having said that, they have only played one Power 5 team this season and that was an NC State squad that is also… bad. The Western Carolina defense ranks 93rd in the FCS in total defense, allowing 425 yards per game and 36.3 points per game. Their passing defense is bad, but their rushing defense is just plain awful. The Catamounts are allowing an average of 261 yards per game on the ground.
Catamounts’ defensive coordinator John Wiley runs a base 3-4 defense and has been coaching for over 30 years. Some of the recognizable schools that he has coached include East Carolina, Appalachian State, Valdosta State, and Texas State. He was also a graduate assistant at the University of Texas once upon a time ago.
The linebackers for Western Carolina are led by Ty Harris, Trevor Childers, and Jayden Pauling. Ty Harris is a junior and returning starter for the Catamounts. He leads the team in tackles with 98 total tackles and 7 tackles for loss. Trevor Childers is also a junior that has seen lots of playing time in the past. He has 95 total tackles with 1 sack this season. Jayden Pauling leads the team with sacks and tackles for loss. The sophomore has 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
The defensive backs for the Catamounts are led by JerMichael White and John Brannon. White is a redshirt senior safety and he has 84 total tackles this season. John Brannon has 3 interceptions this season and 2 fumble recoveries. He is a senior safety and is the most experienced member of the secondary.
K.J. Milner and Torrion Stevenson are the leaders of the Western Carolina defensive line. K.J. Milner is a sophomore defensive end and returning starter, he has 40 total tackles this season and 4 tackles for loss. He also has 7 hurries and has recovered 2 fumbles. Torrion Stevenson is a redshirt freshman defensive tackle. He has 21 total tackles this season and has recovered 1 fumble for the Catamounts.
This less-than-stellar matchup comes at a great time for the Crimson Tide. It will be great to get Mac Jones and probably Taulia Tagovailoa some much needed experience leading into the Iron Bowl. There is no denying that the offense will not be the same without Tua Tagovailoa. The kid is a generational player and a huge loss for the Alabama offense. With that being said, Alabama is still a high-powered offense and Mac Jones will be able to get the ball into the playmaking receivers hands. Najee Harris and Brian Robinson have been seeing more carries these last couple of weeks and will continue to do so. The offense will put up pretty good numbers against Western Carolina and the backups will do the same. This game will never be close and will hopefully get Mac Jones and others some much needed confidence. As long as there aren’t any more injuries, this game will do its job of getting some much needed experience to the young guys and some much needed rest to the starters.