Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Terriers want to avoid rare losing season

Dejectedly, the Terriers made their way to the locker rooms at Paladin Stadium. Behind them, the nearly-barren trees of late fall swayed deliberately in the algid Upstate air. Yes, this is the time of year in which season change, and the focus of the public begins to shift rapidly from football to basketball.

In the locker room, Mike Ayers stares longingly at the Terriers, worn and exhausted from another rough campaign, which has also brought on its share of injuries. Several are done for the season like Travis Thomas, Tom Bove, and even Evan Jacks, who served as the starting quarterback in the first six games of the season, just to name a few. Ayers, who may be on the verge of just his second losing season in fourteen years.

The Terriers were served a crushing 31-14 defeat at the hands of arch-rival Furman, led by freshman quarterback P.J. Blazejowski, who passed for over three-hundred yards and a pair of impressive touchdown. The loss, which put Wofford at a dismal 5-5 record (3-3 SoCon), came a week after league leader Chattanooga put the Terriers away in the second half, beating them 31-13—a loss that secured a conference title for the Mocs, who are unbeaten in league play.

Wofford's last losing season came in 2009, when two physical contests against FBS teams—a 40-7 loss at South Florida and a 44-14 setback at Wisconsin that were sandwiched by a nonconference 41-14 win against the Big South's Charleston Southern—hit the Terriers hard, along with the tough conference slate, to combine for a subpar 3-8 mark.

The last losing season before that was the 2001 campaign, which saw a 4-7 (3-5 SoCon) record. Conference victories came against VMI, The Citadel, and East Tennessee State—the former two were also taken down by Wofford this season.

Since joining the SoCon in 1997, the Terriers have posted losing conference records in five seasons, the two recent being in 2009 and 2005. After the 2009 campaign, Wofford, led by Eric Breitenstein, saw its records shoot back up, before finding an even 4-4 mark last season.

Season - Overall record (SoCon record)
2013 - 5-6 (4-4)
2012 - 9-4 (6-2)
2011 - 8-4 (6-2)
2010 - 10-3 (7-1)
2009 - 3-8 (2-6)

On the other hand, look at the average rushing yards per game in each of those seasons:

2009 - 270.2
2010 - 297.7
2011 - 346.6
2012 - 349.7
2013 - 269.9

As you can see, the team average dropped back down to 2009 level last season. Just something to chew on.

The Terriers still have a chance to avoid a losing season, though; the Mercer Bears, in their first season as a SoCon member, will make the trip to Spartanburg this Saturday for their first encounter with Wofford since 1941. Wofford doesn't have a history of winning against Mercer; in fact, they haven't ever beaten the Bears, who lead the series 6-0. I couldn't think of a better time to set a triumphant precedent.

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