The South Carolina Gamecocks will host the first of two familiar opponents hailing from the Upstate this weekend, welcoming FCS opponent Wofford to Columbia.
Not to alarm anyone, but the Terriers (9-1, 7-1 Southern Conference) are ranked seventh nationally and have clinched both a share of their conference title and a playoff spot. The last time they saw the Gamecocks, it was a tense 24-7 USC victory in 2012 that was actually tied at the half (7-all) and otherwise an infuriating experience to behold. Nonetheless, the Gamecocks have short memories and have decided to come back for more, so here we are.
What to expect from Wofford
Running the ball, running the ball, and oh yeah, running the ball. With their triple-option attack, the Terriers average 260 rushing yards per game and rank sixth in the country in rushing offense. Fullback Andre Stoddard (71 yards per game, 14 touchdowns) and halfbacks Lennox McAfee (60 yards per game, six TDs), and Blake Morgan (52 yards per game, 6 TDs) are players to watch out for. The Terriers do throw the ball a bit, good enough to average 113 yards through the air, though they have just four receiving scores on the season. Their bread and butter is not exactly a mystery.
Apart from that, expect a whole lot of frustration. Comfortable, stress-free blowouts are a rarity when going up against this offense.
How the Gamecocks can take care of business
South Carolina needs to be disruptive on defense. Quite simply, the Gamecocks have bigger, better, and more talented players than the Terriers, and that has to be on display. South Carolina’s defensive line has come on strong toward the end of the season, so another big performance from that unit would go a long way toward preventing a nailbiter. It’s a standard piece of advice, but the Gamecocks must play sound assignment football, which is always easier said than done when facing disciplined option teams.
This is another obvious take, because you always have to score points to win games, but South Carolina needs to cash in when it has the ball. The triple option is a clock-killing offense that severely limits possessions, which is why games involving such teams are often low scoring regardless of talent differential. If USC would prefer to not be in a dogfight in the fourth quarter, making sure its offense is awake and ready to roll at kickoff will help.
Lastly, a major key — beyond simply getting the win — is to avoid injuries. As an option team, Wofford will engage in its fair share of cut blocking, so hopefully the Gamecocks can take care of their knees and stay healthy for that other Upstate team.