The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. the cats of the mountains

I will admit when I was watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament in 2005 and saw the University of Vermont Catamounts upset Syracuse in the first round, I didn’t have a clue what a catamount was.  Perhaps it was the unique name of yet another designer ice cream created by Vermont’s famous ice cream duo of Ben & Jerry’s (Cherry Garcia; Chunky Monkey, etc.).  In deference to our Head Coach Paul Johnson who graduated from our 2011 opening game opponent Western Carolina in 1979, I thought it appropriate to let everyone know; what is a catamount?  It is a cat of the mountains such as; a lynx, puma (not the shoe company), or a cougar (not the aggressive middle aged two legged man hunter).  Now that we all know about the mascot from Coach Paul Johnson’s alma mater, let’s discuss our opening game opponent.

Western Carolina is coached by Dennis Wagner who was the offensive line coach at Nebraska for a few seasons before becoming the head man of the catamounts.  Prior to that he was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Fresno State under Pat Hill for seven seasons.  But here is a very interesting fact, after his first season at WC he was actually offered the head coaching job at the University of Kansas (our opponent in game # 3 this season), and TURNED them down to stay put at Western Carolina!  Obviously a very loyal person to forgo a coaching job in a BCS conference.  That says a lot about his character and commitment to getting the job done at Western Carolina.

The catamounts run a 4-2-5 defensive scheme and utilize the pistol formation on offense.  The pistol is the invention of Coach Chris Ault at the University of Nevada who you might remember upset Boise State last season snapping a very long winning streak and costing them a trip to a BCS Bowl Game.  The pistol is a one back offense with the running back lined up about 3 yards behind the quarterback who lines up 4 yards behind the center.  This is a unique hybrid variation of the traditional shotgun or NCAA spread offense whereby the running back lines up adjacent to either side of the quarterback who sets up seven yards behind the center.

Western Carolina had a very difficult season in 2010 just like Georgia Tech, and wound up with a final record of 2 and 9 finishing at the bottom of the Southern Conference.  In reviewing the roster of the catamounts they have a large influx of junior college players from California, which reflects the connections made by Coach Wagner when he was part of the staff at Fresno State.  They have good size in the trenches and return 9 starters on offense including four offensive linemen.  On the other side of the line of scrimmage they only return four starters.

However, by scheduling to play the Yellow Jackets at BDS on a Thursday night it is apparent that Coach Wagner also subscribes to the coaching attitude made famous by his mentor at Fresno State; Pat Hill whose philosophy is; Anyone, Anywhere!  So Georgia Tech needs to be ready to play some football and show the cats from the mountain the business end of a Yellow Jacket beginning at 7:30 p.m. at BDS.  For those out of town fans not able to attend this home opener, it is scheduled to be available for viewing on ESPN3 on your computer.  Go Jackets! 



  • Michaelgoldfeder

    The not so special teams performance was just awful!  The Catamount DT who broke through the line to block the FG was bad enough, but to allow them to pick it up and run it in for 7 with no time left in the half will result in a ton of sprints this coming week.  Those center exchanges stopped after McRae and Tevin had a CPJ butt chewing out session  on the sidelines.  It looked like McRae played almost the entire game after GT scored 28, to give him as many reps as possible should anything happen to Finch this season.  No more bad snaps after those first 2 or 3 for the rest of the game.

    What I really did like was true freshman Zack Laskey on punt returns.  Caught the ball and had a nice 28 yard return up the sideline.  Made some good tackles on special teams as well.  Now need to get ready for game # 2.

  • Michaelgoldfeder

    Hello Russ,

    Hopefully all of the negatives from last season with the passing game are now over and closed.  It was very nice to see Stephen Hill catch the football and take it all the way to the end zone.  Looks like he has really improved his concentration in an effort to become another D. Thomas.  Had some nice blocks on the edge too.

  • GT Nuke

    It was a generally good start to the season, bit I saw a LOT of sloppy stuff, especially on our DREADED special teams play. GOD PJ, when are we gonna get a special teams coach. This is without a doubt our achillies heel this season. Can you believe we botched a kick and let them run it in for 6??!!?? I mean WTF!!!!!!!!! Several center to QB fumbles…….. At least one air ball pitch by Tevin………. Our defensive secondary is showing its inexperience badly……….. Kick off returns – OMG – we suck at ’em.

    I am pleased with Tevins passing performance though. I don’t have the stats but I would say he had a very hi completion percentage. So I’m not feeling the love for this years Jackets just yet, but I know PJ’s gonna be chewing a lot of buttover the next week. Lets see if anything sinks in. See you in Tennessee!


  • russ williams

    Enjoyed the game.  Maybe it helps build momentum and gets rid of some of Stephen Hill’s (and the team’s) head trash from last year.  If they get over some of the mental aspects, it could be an interesting year.  

    Go Jackets.