Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Preview Capsule for Palmetto & Pine Sports

You can read the 2014 Wofford football preview capsule I wrote for Palmetto & Pine Sports by clicking this link or by reading below.

Top Players to Watch
As we grow closer to the season, I’d like to wait and see before making a commitment behind center. Brad Butler occupies the top spot on the preliminary depth chart, but we’ve got some great talent in other redshirt freshman Brandon Goodson, and returning starters Michael Weimer and Evan Jacks. There was some lack of fluidity in the quarterback position last season, so we have to wait and see what’s going to happen.

Will Irwin is a great position player at WR, and Will Gay was second only to Irwin in individual rushing last season. He’s a great threat, along with Nick Colvin.

On the other side of the ball, you can’t go without mentioning Tarek Odom, the senior defensive end from St. Augustine, Florida. Odom recorded 47 tackles and two sacks in 2013, while senior linebacker Travis Thomas had 54 tackles. Defensively, we’re going without some big names like McCrimmon and Scioneaux, but we’ve still retained a lot great talent back there.

What are you most excited about?
How we’ve improved upon our offensive struggles will be a big deal as we ease into fall practice and ultimately the season. I’d like to see how the coaching staff has responded to these changes and what solutions they may have implemented.

It’s also going to be exciting to see a strong defense, and what defensive coordinator Nate Fuqua will bring in his promoted position.

What are you most worried about?
The main thing that we’ve got to be worried about would have to be the sheer amount of youth on the roster. At any program, it can be nerve-racking to have to rely on players with little-to-no game experience, but I think they’ll get into the rhythm soon enough, and we have enough returning power to hold ourselves up while they mature in the system.

What moment from last year do you just want to forget?
Of course it hurt when we dropped four straight to close out the season, especially when we saw our last clutching chances at a postseason berth thrown out the window with the loss to Appalachian State, but it wasn’t quite the same hurt as what happened a few weeks earlier on a soaked Gibbs Stadium turf.

We had high hopes coming into the Gardner-Webb game; we had shaken off the early setback to Baylor with two consecutive SoCon wins, the most recent being an impressive ten-point disposal of Georgia Southern. In fact, that was one of the few games that I felt I could reasonably calm down before the final whistle (they’re not just called the ‘Cardiac Terriers’ for laughs). So, we looked good so far. We were 2-1, and had a home game against the Runnin’ Bulldogs, with whom we opened the 2012 campaign with a 34-7 victory.

When the storm clouds began to roll into Spartanburg, a rush-oriented offense would surely be doomed. The ground game proved futile for both squads, as either failed to amass any more than 170 rushing yards, but, on the other hand, Gardner-Webb found a relative rhythm through the air (with the rain, it’s not going to happen with Wofford). In the end, it came down to defense. And the leg of Jason Day, the senior kicker whose 35-yard boot with 10:52 left in the fourth quarter to put the only score of the night on the board in GWU’s favor.

And that was it. Not only the first time the Terriers were shut out since 2005 (at Western Carolina), but the first time Wofford has been shut out at home since a 10-0 defeat at the hands of Davidson in 1987.

What game are you most looking forward to?
It’s a tossup between the Chattanooga, Furman, and Samford games. We didn’t perform as well as we should have in last year’s edition of those games, and I believe it’s a burning impression on the minds of the coaches and players as motivation to not let it happen again this season. There were times when the Terriers had some opportunities, but didn’t take advantage of them, and that makes you play extra carefully when you face them the next time to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again. You can’t be so careful that you’re afraid to take a risk that could change a ballgame in your favor, though.

Predicted finish for this season
I don’t see what’s wrong with a third place SoCon regular season finish. Again, it depends on how well we execute this season, but we could shock one of those top teams that have a chip on their shoulder. That wouldn’t surprise me. If not, we may be looking at fourth or even lower if we can’t get into a rhythm.

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