Terriers, Tigers renew rivalry

In his 24th season as head coach, Mike Ayers has turned Wofford into one of the nation's premier FCS programs.

Ayers guided Wofford from the ranks of Division II ball to the FCS level in the early 90's. Since then, the Terriers have won Southern Conference titles in 2003, 2007 and 2010 and reached the FCS playoffs four times [03, 07, 08, 10].

On Saturday, Wofford will visit Clemson for a 3:30 showdown in Death Valley.

"You're looking at a top-echelon team at the highest level. You're looking at athletes that are bigger, faster and stronger than what we're used to," Ayers said. "You're looking at people that are very well coached. They play extremely hard at home in Death Valley. They have tremendous overall team speed."

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is impressed with Wofford's multiple formation, option attack.

"Their offense is a big challenge," Swinney said. "They do a lot of things. They will come out with three backs. Then two backs and three wide. They will give you a lot of different looks with their option plays."

In 2010, the Terriers finished first among all FCS teams with 297.8 yards rushing per game.

Running back Eric Breitenstein ran for 1,639 yards and 22 touchdowns and quarterback Mitch Allen was second on the team with 681 yards and four scores.

Swinney called Breitenstein the, preseason Southern Conference Player of the Year, a "workhorse."

"Our defense describes him as Chad Diehl with moves," Swinney said. "He averaged more than six yards per carry last year so we have to do a good job against him."


Running back Eric Breitenstein ran for 1,639 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. (WG Sports Photos)
Ayers expressed concern in defending against Clemson's running backs.

"The running backs are guys that, quite frankly, are very, very difficult to tackle in space...if their running backs get into space, they're running away from everybody," he said.

On the other side of the ball, up front, Ayers is impressed, particularly with what Clemson has in Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore.

"Their big guys -- just physical guys that if you're in a fight, you'd like to have those guys with you," Ayers said. "Their outside, edge guys are long, tall, angular kids who can run. The second and third level players can really go."

Clemson leads the all-time series 6-0. In 2001, the previous meeting between the two schools, the Tigers won 38-14.

"It's a big challenge. I think we're going to work hard this week, try to become a better football team, go over there and give them a great game, see what happens," Ayers said.

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