Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Looking ahead to the Wofford Terriers

The third in a series of looks ahead at WCU 2012 football opponents. 

Game 3 -  Wofford Terriers

Date with Wofford: Saturday, Sept. 15th, 7:00 p.m

Site: Gibbs Stadium (13,000 - Natural grass, Bermuda), Spartanburg, SC 

Series: WCU trails 12-22-0

Head Coach: Mike Ayers (162-111-1 in 24 yrs)

2011 Record: (8-4, 6-2 in SoCon)

Basic Offense: Wingbone

Basic Defense: Multiple 50

Lettermen Returning / Lost: 47 / 17

Starters Returning / Lost (O/D/S): 17(7/7/3)  /  8(4/4/0)

The Catamounts travel to Spartanburg, SC to open the conference regular season against the Wofford Terriers on Saturday, Sept. 15th 2012.  The Cats and dogs will be meeting  for the 35th time on the gridiron. The Terriers own a 22-12 record against the Cats, and have won the last six straight games. The Cats trail 3-13 in games played in Spartanburg.

Head Coach Mike Ayers is entering his 25th season as skipper of the Terriers, and is 162-111-1 as their head coach. With a total of 14 starters returning (seven on offense, seven on defense), Ayers and his Terriers expect to be challenging once again for the Southern Conference Championship.

On offense, the good news for Coach Ayers and his triple option offense that led the nation in rushing last season is returning Walter Payton Award candidate Eric Breitenstein (1,474 yds, 19 TDs, 5.5 YPC). Thankfully for the rest of the SoCon, this will be Breitenstein's senior season. Flanking Breitenstein as the two wing backs will be Donovan Johnson (110 ATT, 967 YDS, 9 TDs, 8.8 YPC) and Brad Nocek (28 ATT, 168 YDS, 6.0 YPC), both are experienced and are threats on the perimeter for the Terriers.

Wofford must replace three-year signal caller Mitch Allen, who was also a big running threat.  Allen finished his career with 2,574 yards rushing. Rising senior Brian Kass has emerged as the likely starter during spring practice. James Lawon appears to be the top backup to Kass. The offensive line returns four of five starters.

Key Offensive Returnees:  fullback Eric Breitenstein (1,474 yds, 19 TDs, 5.5 YPC); wingback Donovan Johnson (110 ATT, 967 YDS, 9 TDs, 8.8 YPC); wingback Brad Nocek (28 ATT, 168 YDS, 6.0 YPC); wideout Jeff Ashley (7 REC, 188 YDS, 2 TDs, 26.9 AVG)

On Defense, Ayers has returning seven starters from a defensive unit that was among the SoCon's best last season.  Wofford ranked second in total defense (311.8 YPG).  However, their biggest losses are on the defensive line,  Ameet Pall, Eric Eberhardt and Alex Goultry all graduated.

Linebackers, are a strength for Wofford and the Terriers return all four starters from last season, however Wofford will open the season without outside linebacker Alvin Scioneaux (85 tackles, 17.0 TFL, 8.5 SCK, 5 FF). Scioneaux had offseason knee surgery and will probably miss at least the first two games ; senior inside linebacker Mike Niam (83 TACK, 6.0 TFL); inside linebacker Mike McCrimon (62 TACK, 5.0 TFL); outside linebacker Phillip LeGrande (34 TACK, 3.0 TFL).  The secondary also returns good talent, with three of four starters returning. The only loss was cornerback Preston Roseborough.

Key Offensive Returnees: outside linebacker Alvin Scioneaux (85 tackles, 17.0 TFL, 8.5 SCK, 5 FF); inside linebacker Mike Niam (83 TACK, 6.0 TFL); inside linebacker Mike McCrimon (62 TACK, 5.0 TFL); outside linebacker Phillip LeGrande (34 TACK, 3.0 TFL)

In preseason polling, Wofford was picked 3d by the coaches and 2d by the media, so this could very well be an outstanding season for the Terriers. Winning has always been tough for the Cats at Wofford, and this years game will certainly be no different.  I'm not prediction a victory, but the Cats should not come away embarrassed with another 42-24 loss.

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