2008 Preview: Wofford

GamecockAnthem's Will Evans continues his preview of South Carolina's non-conference opponents with a look at the Wofford Terriers. The last time these two teams met in 2006, the pesky Terriers ran all over the field with their unorthodox offense and caused Gamecock fans to sweat before the pups finally succumbed, 27-20. So what does the 2008 Terriers team have to offer? Read inside to find out.

Wofford Terriers Last year: 9-4 (5-2 Southern Conference)

Key Players Returning:
WR Andy Strickland - star player who had 599 yards receiving last year.
LB Seth Goldwire - leading tackler last year.
LB Gary Blount - led Terriers with 3 interceptions last year.
PK Patrick Mugan - holds school record for most points in a single season.

Key Players Lost:
RB Kevious Johnson - led the team in rushing four seasons in a row.
QB Josh Collier - three year starter at QB.
DL James Gonsonlin - All-SoCon member who was only senior on defensive line.
LB Kevin Adleman - starter for two years after transferring from Presbyterian College.
DB Dan Tavani - four year starter at free safety and strong safety.

Key Players Added:
LB Allen Smith - South Carolina All-State, North-South All-Star.
RB/LB Tevon Boards - 6-0, 200 out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
DE Zach Bobb - All-Cobb County defensive team and was a preseason all-state defensive selection in 2007.
DL T.J. White - Captain of his high school team. From Spartanburg, SC.
RB Derek Boyce - first-team all-state honors from Knoxville, TN.
WR Brenton Bersin - Offensive MVP of the OASIS Shrine Bowl.

In the middle of a three game homestand, the South Carolina Gamecocks will host the Wofford Terriers on Saturday, September 20, 2008. The Terriers will be the Gamecocks' fourth game of the season, after facing teams like N.C. State at home, Vanderbilt on the road, and Georgia at home.

The Wofford Terriers are hoping, but not expecting, to become 2008's Appalachian State by upsetting a Football Bowl Subdivision school.

Wofford's Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Wade Lang said, "We certainly go into each game thinking we have a chance if we do what we're supposed to do. Obviously, the cards are stacked against you because those guys are an awful good football team and they are well coached and have great players. Hopefully, you can get the chance to do what you wanted to do that particular game and you can go in with the thought that you can at least win it at the end."

The Terriers were able to claim a share of the Southern Conference Championship with Appalachian State, but failed to meet with Appalachian State in the playoffs. The Terriers won their first round matchup against the third seeded Montana in the first round, but lost to Richmond 10-2 in the second round ("Elite Eight") of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Wofford's lone game against an FBS school resulted in a 38-17 loss to North Carolina State's Wolfpack.

The last time the Gamecocks and Terriers met up, the Gamecocks squeaked by the Terriers with a 27-20 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mike Davis rushed for 13 yards on 5 carries in that game. Davis will be counted on to provide some offense in this game if the passing game resembles the passing game from the previous contest. Outside of Sidney Rice, the Gamecocks were only able to produce 45 yards receiving in that game.

Coach Lang stated, "Going into each game, you never know [if it will be a defensive or offensive game]. Sometimes you think you're going to score a lot of points and stop them, and you don't do either one. One thing that helped us a couple of years ago was Cory Boyd twisted his ankle early in the game. We were having a hard time tackling him. Obviously, we'd love to give them a hard time and not let them move the ball while we move it."

The Terriers were second in the nation in rushing yards, with 309.69 yards per game last year; but they lost running back Kevious Johnson and quarterback Josh Collier to graduation, and will be looking to replace those two. Collier was able to keep defenses off-balance by having a decent arm. Ben Widmyer looks to replace Collier, while Jeremy Marshall and Mike Rucker hope to fill Kevious Johnson's shoes.

Coach Lang had this to add: "We think we have a couple of guys at running back [who can be reliable] that didn't play a ton, but did get playing time at returner. They can both run and are both tough. Ben [Widmyer] ended up starting and playing the entire game against NC State last year. He led us to a couple of touchdown drives against Appalachian State as well."

If the Gamecocks remain healthy after their slugfest with Georgia the week before, they can expect to finally see a true definition of Coach Steve Spurrier's Cock 'n' Fire offense against Wofford.

Gamecock Keys To Victory:
1. Stop the option - The Gamecocks have had trouble stopping the option in recent memory against the likes of Louisiana-Lafayette, South Carolina State, and Missouri. The Gamecock defense will need to penetrate and get to the ball carrier before he pitches, or change directions in a hurry. Although Carolina has had some trouble with the option of late, it is usually not enough to overcome them.

2. Avoid giving up the big play on offense - Wofford's passing game revolves completely around wide receiver Andy Strickland. If Captain Munnerlyn can shut Strickland down, the linebackers and other defensive backs can concentrate on stopping the run.

3. Avoid giving up the big play on defense - The Terriers didn't have a great defense last year, but they were seventh in the nation in intercepting the ball, with 20 interceptions. Again, a key to the game will be for our running game to be productive, while our quarterbacks will need to dink and dunk.

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