Friday, June 13, 2014

Giving It Another Look: Samford

It's time to take another look at Wofford's 2014 football schedule, which we will continue with Samford. You can read our new non-conference preview here and earlier previews here.

Samford has become a part of the new "Big Three" in SoCon football (you can read our earlier post on this topic here), along with Chattanooga and Furman; a trio that seemingly replaced the previous version, which consisted of the well-known powers Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, and a small yet resilient school otherwise known as Wofford.

The Bulldogs, under head coach Pat Sullivan (entering his eighth year), posted an 8-5 (6-2 SoCon) mark last season to split the title with the Mocs and the Paladins. Although they fell to Furman, the Bulldogs defeated Chattanooga by a field goal in overtime to gain the tiebreaker over the Mocs, and earn a playoff bid along with the Paladins. The Bulldogs were blown out by Jacksonville State of the OVC (Terrier fans will remember them from the 2010 playoffs, where the Terriers won 17-14) by a score of 55-14 in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

Against Samford last season at Gibbs Stadium, the Terriers overcame an eleven-point deficit at the half to tie the game at 24 in the fourth quarter. Wofford then gave up ten more points, and only turned up a field goal to fall short by a touchdown, 34-27.

Not only was this Wofford's first SoCon loss, but it was the start of a four-game losing streak to end the season, effectively drowning any playoff hopes that the Terriers might have had.

This wasn't the first time that the Samford game meant bad news. In 2012, the Bulldogs staged what can only be described as a miracle comeback, somehow punching in a touchdown and a two-point conversion with no time left on the clock. Samford then put up another score after the squads swapped missed field goals, and the ensuing Wofford fumble ensured that the Terriers would not be outright SoCon champions. Instead, they had to win a second-straight overtime game, this time against Chattanooga, to clinch a co-championship with Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.

This year, Wofford will certainly be looking for redemption and a continuation of any strength that we start the season with. Samford, however, will be looking to defend their co-championship and two-game winning streak against the Terriers.

This game, in my opinion, will be one of the toughest this year for Wofford. While every game feels like a must-win in the current situation, this contest is a major stepping-stone in our battle back to SoCon supremacy.

Samford has been hit with a few notable losses: quarterback Andy Summerlin, who passed for 3,640 yards last season, and wide receiver Kelsey Pope, who caught 68 passes for 789 yards in 2013, are not returning to Birmingham this season.

Like the earlier matchups, this should be another tough, physical game that the Terriers are all-too familiar with. With some serious dedication, and the will to once again be at the top of the conference (with quite a bit of defense too), however, I believe that it's one that Wofford can win.

Early Pick: Wofford 23, Samford 20

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