#5 Wofford FCS Football 2013 Preview

George Hammond

Wofford Terriers

Overall Rank: #5
#2 SoCon

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With Georgia Southern and Appalachian State ineligible for the Southern Conference title this year as they transition to FBS status, Wofford moves to the top of the league’s pecking order.  Not that the Terriers (9-4, 6-2), who tied for first last season, have played second fiddle in recent years.  Wofford is one of only three schools to make the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. It humbled New Hampshire 23-7 in the opening round last year before losing to eventual champion North Dakota State 14-7 in a classic old-school type football game.  Stability is the key phase surrounding this program: Head coach Mike Ayers begins his 26th year at the helm while Wade Lang has been offensive coordinator since 1990 and defensive coordinator Jack Teachey is starting his 21st season on staff.

2012 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2012 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Mike Ayers (171-115-1 at Wofford, 182-136-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Wade Lang
Defensive Coordinator: Jack Teachey

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Donovan Johnson, RB, 473 yards
Passing: James Lawson, QB, 233 yards
Receiving: Jeff Ashley, WR, 301 yards
Tackles: Mike McCrimon, LB, 76 tackles
Sacks: Alvin Scioneaux, LB, 7.0
Interceptions: Alvin Scioneaux, LB, 2; Mike McCrimon, LB, LB, 2

Other Key Returnees: C Jared Singleton, OG Tymeco Gregory, DE Tarek Odom, NT E.J. Speller, FS James Zotto, LB Kevin Thomas, OL Kane Sherrill, .

Key Losses: FB Eric Breitenstein, OL Calvin Cantrell, OL T.J. White, OL Jake Miles, QB Brian Kass, RB Brad Nocek, LB Mike Niam, LB Phillip LeGrande, CB Blake Wylie, SS Kendall Bratcher, CB Stephon Shelton, DE Josh Roseborough.

Although Wofford has lost key defensive personnel from last year, linebacking should be strong with Alvin Scioneaux and Mike McCrimon returning. McCrimon was the top tackler from last year and Scioneaux led the Terriers in sacks. Nose tackle E.J. Speller leads the defensive front as he had 33 tackles and forced three fumbles last year, tied for most on the team. Alongside Speller is Tarek Odom, who was second on the team with 4½ sacks. While the secondary needs to regroup, free safety James Zotto, who has 29 career starts, returns. Offensively, senior Donovan Johnson is expected to lead Wofford’s running attack. In three seasons, he has amassed 1,793 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

Wofford must replace three starters on the offensive line that helped the school finish second nationally with an average of 349 rushing yards per game. The Terriers also need to find a replacement for quarterback Brian Kass, who decided not to use his last year of eligibility, and they have to see whether Johnson can fill the shoes of fullback Eric Breitenstein, who was such a dominant part of the Terriers’ rushing attack for the last few seasons.

The Bottom Line:
There are questions, but Ayers usually finds a way to answer them as he has built Wofford into a perennial power. The biggest, obviously, is can Johnson fill Breitenstein’s shoes? Breitenstein rushed for a school-record 2,035 yards last year and finished with 5,730 career yards.  Ayers hinted that the Terriers might focus a little more on the passing attack (they can’t focus much less than last year when they attempted just 88 passes in 13 games), but quarterback is a question, too. Walk-on James Lawson started two games in 2012, including the playoff win over New Hampshire while Michael Weimer played in eight games last year. On defense, there should be enough playmakers to give the Terriers another strong unit (No. 1 in the SoCon in 2012). The preseason Southern Conference polls showed there is uncertainty about the Terriers. The coaches picked Wofford to finish fifth while the media poll had Wofford at No. 2 (all Georgia Southern and Appalachian State games count in the league standings even though they’re ineligible to win the title). It won’t take long to see what Wofford has – it opens at Baylor, followed by a road game at The Citadel before the Terriers host Georgia Southern.

Projected postseason: FCS Playoffs

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 349.69 (2nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 51.00 (121, 9)
Total Offense: 400.69 (41, 3)
Scoring Offense: 28.85 (43, 4)
Rushing Defense: 125.00 (23, 1)
Pass Defense: 180.92 (23, 5)
Total Defense: 305.92 (9, 1)
Scoring Defense: 16.62 (7, 1)
Turnover Margin: .54 (24, 3)
Sacks: 2.00 (55, 3)
Sacks Allowed 1.00 (12, 3)


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