Week I Opponent Preview: Western Carolina
By Lee Feinswog
Special to LSUsports.net
Virginia has been good to Western Carolina. Of course, it is a neighboring state directly to the north, but this season the Catamounts will be relying heavily on two players from Virginia.
Quarterback David Rivers, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, is a transfer from the University of Virginia whose resume includes a three-touchdown performance against Georgia Tech.
And Lorenzo Ferguson, a 6-0 senior strong safety, received honorable mention status in the Big East when he played at Virginia Tech.
Ferguson’s roommate, senior linebacker Cedric Crudup, said Ferguson has told him what to expect Saturday night when WCU opens its season at LSU.
“He said there’s no feeling like it,” said the fifth-year player who is the team’s leading returning tackler.
“Even when you’re not at home, to hear all that noise will get you pumped up. He said it’s a feeling you can’t describe.”
Most people figure Tiger Stadium to be louder than ever now that the seating capacity has been expanded to 91,600. Everyone knows it’s going to be noisy, but the weather conditions are nothing like the mountains of North Carolina. No, the heat and humidity are going to be something for the Catamounts to contend with.
“We started drinking lots of water. A lot of Gatorade and things like that,” Crudup said. “It’s going to be tough, especially at first, but as the game goes on I think everybody’s going to get used to it.”
WCU, of course, can’t get used to LSU’s superior size and depth. The Tigers are markedly bigger, especially on the defensive line.
What’s more, WCU is 26-35-5 all time in season openers, largely because it has to take on games like this. The Catamounts finished 3-8 last year and are expected to be nothing short of fodder for LSU. WCU is a Division I-AA school, the first such opponent for LSU since it played Arkansas State in 1991, and is playing the game for the financial benefits.
“Obviously you want to win,” Crudup said. “It may be a money thing for other people, but for us, it’s going to tell us just how good we are. If we can go in there and make a good showing and lose, we can still feel good about ourselves. We have a chance to build some good confidence.”
This will be the first meeting ever between the schools and the first Southeastern Conference confrontation for fourth-year WCU coach Bill Bleil (43-26-1). His team was 3-8 last year, with victories over Mars Hill, The Citadel and VMI.
“We’re excited,” Crudup said. “It’s going to be the biggest crowd that anybody here – besides those couple of transfers – has ever played in front. It’s just going to be a great experience for us.”