South Carolina is getting ready to face an instate foe this weekend in the Wofford Terriers. Wofford is currently 8-2 on the season, 6-2 in the Southern Conference, and clinched a share of the conference title this past weekend against Chattanooga. They are led by Eric Breinstein at fullback on offense who is the main driving force behind the triple-option for Wofford. The defense is solid as well, giving up 319.9 yards per game of total offense. This puts them No. 22 overall in the FCS in total defense.
South Carolina holds an 18-4 edge over Wofford in the series history with the most recent game being a 23-13 win for South Carolina in 2008. The last time the Terriers have beaten the Gamecocks was in 1917.
Saturday will mark Senior Day for the Gamecocks as well as Military Appreciation Day. The Gamecocks will honor 27 seniors on Saturday that has produced 35 wins over the last four years. This is the winningest senior class in school history and they have a chance to add more wins this year with three remaining games, including the bowl game.
With that said, let's take a look at this week's What To Watch For edition.
The opportunity for younger players to see the field
Ideally, this is a game you hope as a coach, and a fan, that is over by halftime. Wofford is a great team in the Southern Conference and won a share of the conference title this season. There is a difference though between an FCS opponent and an FBS opponent especially one in the SEC.
Wofford has been able to hang tight with the Gamecocks the last two matchups. Will that happen again this weekend? Unlikely. South Carolina has an efficient offense that has put up some big numbers in recent weeks and is playing in front of the home crowd on Senior Day. The Gamecocks play well at home and should be able to pull out a sizeable lead heading into halftime.
If the Gamecocks are able to do that, then you should see a lot of younger players on the field like Shaq Roland, Jerell Adams, Mike Davis, Kaiwan Lewis, K.J. Brent, The Dixon brothers and more. This will be a great opportunity for in-game experience for these younger players and allow South Carolina to rest some injured individuals like Connor Shaw. The Gamecocks will need Shaw healthy and ready for the Clemson game next weekend and if he doesn't have to risk injury by playing the full game, then the better it is for South Carolina.
Look for some younger faces to get plenty of playing time this weekend against Woford.
The effort level from the Gamecocks
South Carolina isn't playing for any championships at this point. They're playing for pride. It's certainly disappointing to be out of the running for the SEC championship but that doesn't mean they can't have some big goals this season. The Gamecocks are finished with their SEC schedule and face Wofford the weekend before the annual rivalry game with the Clemson Tigers. So, will the Gamecocks come out flat this weekend?
They can't afford to start flat this weekend against Wofford. They could win seven home games for the first time, get to nine wins on the season and give Steve Spurrier his 64th win at South Carolina tying him with Rex Enright atop the school's all-time wins list. It's a big game, even though the opponent is small, and that should be enough motivation for the Gamecocks to come out fired up and ready to go.
Remember, South Carolina beat Wofford 27-20 in 2006 and 23-13 in 2008. If South Carolina allows it, the Terriers will keep it interesting which is exactly why South Carolina should have a nice start to the game and roll to a big victory.
The Gamecock defense against the Wofford triple option offense
This will be the main battle to watch this weekend. Wofford's option offense is efficient and puts up a lot of yards on the ground – 357.1 yards per game to be exact. There are four areas that the defense will have to focus on according to Wofford's coach Mike Ayers – the dive play, the play-action pass, the pitch play and the quarterback keep. South Carolina has all the athletes they need to keep up with the different looks that Wofford will throw at the Gamecocks. The question is will they stick in their assignments?
It's a hard offense to prepare for. You don't see something like this often, especially at the FBS-level. The Gamecocks faced Navy and The Citadel in 2011, both option-style offenses, so there is some recent film to watch and help get ready for Wofford. Wofford's got a dynamic fullback in Eric Breitenstein, who has 1,528 yards rushing this season. He'll be tough to bring down but South Carolina is big, and quick, up front on the defensive line.
If the Gamecocks can stick to their lanes and keep things out front, they've got a great shot at neutralizing Wofford's offense and shutting down the Terriers for the game.
Saturday's contest between South Carolina and Wofford will be on pay-per-view at 1 p.m. ET. Andy Demetra and Brad Muller will do the play-by-play and analysis respectively. Todd Ellis, Tommy Suggs and Langston Moore will provide coverage for the Gamecock IMG Sports Network.
What To Watch For: Wofford
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