Confidence is high in Spartanburg for this Wofford Terrier squad. And it should be, the Terriers return 15 starters off a team that very nearly made it to the national semifinals in 2016. Coach Ayers’ squad was the top defense in the conference last year and, in my opinion, they’ll be better in 2017. The Terriers are picked by most, including SoCon Recruiting, to win the Southern Conference and there is no realistic argument for anyone else.
Normally I start with offense, but for Wofford it starts on defense this season. The Terriers have the best front 7 in the Southern Conference giving up just 3.1 yards per carry last season (best in the SoCon) and was 2nd in sacks. The Terriers boasts 5 preseason all-conference selections on defense along including Miles Brown and Tyler Vaughn up front. At linebacker, Datavious Wilson is another all-conference projection but all 4 have great size and can play. The statistical knock on Wofford over the years has been pass defense, however last season this group was near the top in yards per attempt and led the conference in interceptions. Taken in consideration that by shutting down the run, opponents must pass more allowing 185 yards per game passing is actually quite impressive. A lot of hyperbole here, but the numbers back it up.
Offensively, the stats are never going to be dazzling for the Terriers due to philosophy. The Terriers want to have 14-play 70-yard drives that chew up clock, it tires out your defense and keeps their own fresh by keeping your offense off the field. The number your looking for here is yards per carry, which was 5.0 last season on 56 carries per game. Now leading rushers Lorenzo Long and Will Gay are gone so Wofford has some big shoes to fill. Stepping up will be FB Chase Nelson and HB’s Lennox McAfee and Blake Morgan, but the Terriers always use a lot of backs so expect to see several others as well. QB Brandon Goodson mans the QB position behind a solid offensive line. The line lost a couple of very good players but return an experienced group that should be very good once again. The offense has some new starters, but shouldn’t see much, if any, drop off. Expect to see similar production to last season.
Games aren’t won on paper. Over the years, Wofford has won a lot of football games where they looked overmatched on paper. In 2017, the Terriers will be the hunted with every opponent looking to take down the favorite. It should be a fun season for Terrier fans beginning tonight with hated Furman coming to town for the season opener.