Thursday, July 24, 2014

Media Day Recap: Terriers tabbed fourth, seeking consistency this season

Courtesy Southern Conference
Representatives of SoCon football programs and media members alike converged on the Spartanburg Marriot Wednesday for the 2014 SoCon Football Media Day.

In attendance for Wofford were head coach Mike Ayers, RB Will Gay, and LB Travis Thomas.

The Terriers occupied fourth place on both the media and coaches' preseason poll, eighteen points below the favorite Chattanooga in the latter. Below are the full rankings:

Offensive lineman T.J. Chamberlin and defensive powerhouse Terek Odom received first team all-conference honors, while the second team saw the likes of Will Gay (voted both as a running back and returner), linemen Anton Wahrby (OL), Chris Armfield and Bernard Williams (DL), and linebacker Kevin Thomas.

The total of seven total Terriers honored on Wednesday matched last year's preseason total, though three Terriers made the first team in 2013.

Mike Ayers answers questions
during a live broadcast from
SoCon Media Day.
Screenshot from Southern Conference broadcast
Mike Ayers, whose arrival was belated by the birth of his granddaughter, said in an interview with TerrierVision yesterday, "the thing we're going to look for is consistency - in not only the quarterback position, but consistency in our practice habits, consistency in our execution, consistency all the way around."

In a separate live interview on SoConTV, Ayers gave his outlook on the season ahead, but began with what happened at the end of last year's campaign:
...We had four games left, we were in first place, and we just couldn't close the deal. We did a lot of soul searching as a staff, we went back and studied our film, studied our game plans, studied the way that we taught techniques and it's amazing to realize that the difference between winning and losing can sometimes really come down to one play, or one penalty, or one turnover - and, that's our fault as coaches. We looked at ourselves and the thing that we've tried to emphasize to our staff, what we've got to do is, let's try to keep it as simple as possible. Let's do our best to have the best conditioned athletes in the country, and let's go out and let's play and let's finish every play.

...It's always been, we've been a run-oriented football team - we feel like that's our niche, that's the type of guys that we can get, and we've been successful with them. Last year, we did O.K. - we were not as good as we had been in the past, and part of that dealt with penalties, part of it dealt with turning the football over. We feel that, as a football team, we're young in some areas, and in some areas, at some critical positions. A lot of times you want that veteran offensive line - well, we don't have a veteran offensive line. But the guys that we have are very talented. We have one of the best offensive line coaches in the country with Coach Nash, and we feel that we'll be able to get those guys up to speed. We have some skill kids that are really good players, we've got the type of guy that we want at fullback, we've got quality halfbacks, we've got some receivers that are really good guys - they're tough, they'll block, they can catch the ball, and they can run well. 
You look at us defensively, we're probably, from an age standpoint, we're more mature, we've had a lot of guys on that group that played a lot of snaps as far as playoff games, and championship games, so, I feel good about our defense. 
Kicking game wise, I feel we have a good kicking game, a solid kicking game. The thing that we're going to address, harp on, pound on and constantly stay after our guys will be finishing every play. 
Then, after that, twenty-nine days away we gotta go play. And, to tell you the truth, I wish we could have started playing in December, but we know that the challenge of the league's tough, and last year, the league - everybody moved up, from - you look at Western Carolina, they got better; you look at Chattanooga, they got much better; you look at Samford, they got much better; you look at Furman, they got much better - and everything piled up to the top, and it was interesting, and who struggled the most were the two leaving the league. So, it's not going to be easy. If we're ever going to win this championship, it's going to be tough, and for us to be successful, we've got to be consistent and we've got to finish every play.

I was fortunate enough to have one of the questions I had sent in to Coach Ayers (via Twitter) asked on air, which was: "How is the defense adapting under Nate Fuqua's leadership?" Ayers' response:

Well, I think that the thing that Coach Fuqua is going to bring, he's going to bring a great deal of detail, he's going to bring a group of guys that are going to be willing to play hard. He's going to bring accountability to a group of guys. He's going to put his stamp on that this summer, and he's a great teacher, he was a great player - he was our first four-time all-Southern Conference player, and he knows what it is to play championship defense, and he's been around a lot of good ball coaches, and he'll do an outstanding job. I have no doubt.

"We're just looking to get back to where we where," senior linebacker Travis Thomas said to TerrierVision, "we're used to success, especially the juniors and seniors - we had a four year run where we were in it every was humbling, but sometimes that's what you need to get back on top."

The excitement is mounting as we advance ever closer to August 30th - as for the questions that are still to be answered, and any uncertainty that lingers with this program's future, there's still time to make some adjustments, and there will absolutely be adjustments made - but most of all, everything will be made certain on the gridiron.

No comments:

Post a Comment