W: The College.
Time to take on the Terriers. Anyone that remembers 2006 knows that this is one FCS unit not to take lightly. They're one of the best at their level and could well surprise us if we're not ready for a fight. Below are my three keys to victory. As always, join the open thread during the game, and stay tuned for C&F's Five Reasons.
Stop the Triple Option Wingbone
Last time around, Wofford controlled the clock and kept our offense off the field with their successful option attack. This allowed them to wear down our defense while keeping the score close. This time around, our defenders need to do a better job of staying with their assignments to keep the Terriers from breaking off big runs. Stopping Wofford is all about discipline; our guys are undoubtedly bigger and faster than anything Wofford brings to the table, so the trick is not letting their unorthodox attack shock us into making mistakes.
Luckily, this defensive unit is a great deal more talented and experienced than what he had in 2006. Ellis Johnson has this group playing disciplined ball, and I expect to see that continue. I also think our 4-2-5 defense is well suited to containing Wofford if they get a runner in space. Plus, having coached at the Citadel a few years back, Coach Johnson knows what to expect from Wofford's wingbone. All of these factors should equal a better defensive performance than what we saw in 2006.
Put the Game Away Early
One of the keys to keeping an upstart underdog down is never letting them think they've got a chance. This means that we would do well to start with a couple of three-and-outs against their offense and put some points on the board when we get the ball. Wofford's defense, and especially their passing defense, hasn't been great so far this year, and considering that we bring a lot more raw talent to the table than Charleston Southern or Presbyterian, I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to hang three or four TDs on these guys by halftime. The key, of course, is protecting the football; we've got the athletes to do what we want, but if Chris Smelley throws a couple of bad interceptions deep in our own territory, we could be in trouble. And, needless to say, that's not out of the realm of possibilities, although I really believe that Chris will follow up his Georgia game with another solid performance. This is a quarterback who now has some (admittedly tough) experience under his belt and looks to be coming into his own.
Aside from helping us hold onto our sanity, one benefit of putting the game away early would be the chance to give some of our younger players some PT. Before we play Ole Miss, we need to answer some questions about what role Stephen Garcia can play for us, who our primary backup RB should be, and what OL lineup we should use. Going into the second half with the game out of reach for Wofford would give the Spurriers a chance to experiment a little.
This one's pretty self-explanatory. There's nothing worse than losing one of your best players during a game that you should win easily. We did just that last year against South Carolina State, when Nate Peppers went down for the year with a knee injury as he returned an interception for a TD. Think we could've used Nate against Arkansas or Florida? Also, this is another reason to put the game away early; if we can jump out to a three or four TD lead in the third quarter, we can give some starters a much needed rest after three tough games.
This is a dangerous game. Plus, it's a bad situation to be in. If we win big, we get no credit; if we win close, we stink; if we lose, we're Michigan. And no one wants to be Michigan, do they?
That said, Spurrier and the upperclassmen that remember what Wofford almost did to us in 2006 should know what we need to do in this game and should be motivated enough to execute. And, truth be told, if we come out and execute, this game will be over in short order. I say we jump out to a 28-7 lead by the half, and end up winning 38-13.