Western Carolina QB derby still ongoing

Apr 9, 2016 - 11:39 PM (STATS) - Replacing four-year quarterback Troy Mitchell would be difficult even if Western Carolina found his replacement during spring practices, but the Catamounts expect to take the competition into preseason camp this summer.

The Southern Conference program's annual spring game, held Saturday at E.J. Whitmire Stadium in Cullowhee, North Carolina, didn't provide the answer.

Mitchell ended his WCU career as the program's all-time leader in total offense. His backup the last two years, junior Wes Holcombe, and redshirt freshmen Kalen Whitlow and Tyrie Adams have split reps with the first and second teams during the spring.

Adams had the most success in the spring game, completing 15 of 21 attempts for 146 yards and three touchdowns while adding 59 rushing yards on eight carries.

Whitlow was 7 of 13 for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns with an interception. Holcombe completed three passes for 20 yards and threw one pick.

"It's exciting to watch those three quarterbacks go in there and compete to try and figure out - come September, going down to East Carolina - which one of them is going to be playing," coach Mark Speir said. "They all had their moments; they all showed that they belong as a starting quarterback. And we may not even know until game week."

The new starting quarterback will be surrounded by plenty of veteran skill position players, including Detrez Newsome, the Catamounts' first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006, and wide receivers Spearman Robinson and Terryon Robinson, who missed last season with a wrist injury.

They might have found a new weapon in converted tailback Skyler Matheson, who had a team-high 19 carries for 83 yards in the spring game. James Foushee carried the ball 14 times for a game-high 86 yards with a touchdown.

The Catamounts, coming off two straight seven-win seasons, also have used the spring to implement new defensive coordinator Dustin Landry's scheme. Linebacker Tyson Dickson was credited with a game-high nine tackles, while defensive lineman Zachary Greene had eight tackles - three for loss - with a pair of sacks.

About 20 players have been limited or out during spring practices. The spring will wrap up with additional practices Tuesday and Thursday.

The Catamounts will kick off their season at East Carolina on Sept. 3.

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