Monday, June 2, 2014

Giving It Another Look: The Non-Conference Slate

It's time to take another look at Wofford's 2014 football schedule, starting with non-conference slate. You can read our earlier previews here.

Game One: Georgia Tech

Well, it seemed that over the years, we had scratched and clawed ourselves into a great position in our games against FBS teams. It really seemed to fall into place with the earlier games against South Carolina, namely in 2006 and 2008. This only continued with our '11 and '12 contests with Clemson and the Gamecocks, respectively.

Now, it feels apparent that we are in a mini-rebuilding stage in our money games, spurred by last year's 69-3 walloping at the hands of those infamous Baylor Bears. I know that these games really don't mean anything in the long run(unless, of course, we win, but that's another story), but it's always refreshing to see a healthy performance, and it just plain makes us look good.

This year, we're going to Atlanta to kick things off with Georgia Tech's Yellow Jackets. The Jackets have a history of blowing out SoCon opponents, most notably Western Carolina in 2011, and last season's 70-0 rout of former conference member Elon.

Unfourtunately, Tech is a solid team, they have more scholarships, and regardless of what we do in preparation, we almost seem doomed before the game even starts.

But there's always that glimmer of hope, some chance that we can pull of the unimaginable.

I just don't see that happening this year. I do see, however, the potential for a stronger performance than last year's Baylor game. How much Georgia Tech scores depends on how well our defense can hold them. Coming from this offseason, I can see a possibility for a strong defensive outing.

Like in years past, we should see an energized start from both squads, but hopefully we can carry some momentum throughout the whole game and avoid late-game faltering that gets in the way of the Terriers' methodical drives.

Early Pick: Georgia Tech 38, Wofford 14

After our opener, we have an off week. Eh, stranger things have happened.

Game Three: Gardner-Webb

This game is sandwiched in between our Non-D1 contests against North Greenville and UVA-Wise, which are discussed briefly later in this article.

Of our four non-conference matchups this season, this is the one that stands out as the best reasonably winnable game for the Terriers.

Last season, we couldn't get our offense production going, among other factors, and the Bulldogs should still be a tough opponent, so it should be good to see how Wofford handles their third-straight meeting with GWU.

I expect it to be a relatively closely matched game, but the Terriers should have the edge.

Early Pick: Wofford 31, Gardner-Webb 17

Games Two and Four: North Greenville and UVA-Wise

Our home opener comes September 13 against North Greenville. Hopefully, this will be the equivalent of an FBS game (with Wofford as the FBS team, of course).

Overall, this should be a quick win for the Terriers, but I see North Greenville as a bit tougher a foe than UVA-Wise.

Early Pick: Wofford 49, North Greenville 17

On September 27, we have our last tune-up, if you will, before heading into the SoCon fray, which will be against UVA-Wise.

I don't see much difference in this one. This should be another game in which we can easily get our offense in a rhythm and quickly build up a large lead.

Early Pick: Wofford 55, UVA-Wise 14

This could easily be described as a boring non-conference schedule, and with understandable merit. But it's what we have, so we might as well make the best of it.

Understanding the likeliness of a loss at Georgia Tech, at best we should get three wins out of the deal, provided we can get our offense going early and hold our own defensively at Gardner-Webb.

These outlooks will most likely sway more or less as the countdown to our first kickoff progresses. This an early-summer projection, based on the current feel of each game's outlook.

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