By Ashley Denny.
By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- The schedule of champions continues for the Clemson Tigers as they are set to face off against the 201 Southern Conference Champion Wofford Terriers Saturday at 3:30 PM in Death Valley.TCI is again here to give you a preview of the Terriers’ offense and the advantages and disadvantages they may face when facing Kevin Steele’s defense.
Although the Tigers currently lead the Terriers 10-3 in this instate series, Clemson’s head coach Dabo Swinney has a lot of respect for Wofford’s Head Coach Mike Ayers and his program.
“Ayers is a first class coach, who has done a great job recruiting for this system.” Swinney said. “We’re going to get a lot of different looks from their option, so we’re going to have to stay on our feet, do a great job with our eyes, and everyone needs to take care of their own responsibility and play disciplined because if we don’t we’ll give up a really big play.”
When speaking to Clemson’s Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele, he described Wofford’s offense as a mixture of several different systems.
“Obviously Wofford is one of the better teams in their league,” Steele said. “They can run the football and do it very well; I think they led the nation FCS in rushing. They effectively run the football, and are very well coached. The running back and quarterback are both very effective at what they do. I guess the best way to describe their offense is that they’re about 40% Georgia Tech, and the other 60% falls at 30% Auburn and 30% South Carolina.”
The Terriers return five starters on offense for the 2011 season. When on offense, the Terriers run an option offense that is similar to the offense ran by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Last season they led Division FCS in rushing with nearly 300 yards per game. In last week’s 35-28 victory against Presbyterian, the Terriers’ star full back junior Eric Breitenstein had a big game, rushing for 107 yards, his 11th 100 yard rushing game in his career. Wofford’s senior quarterback Mitch Allen was 7-14 passing for 138 yards and rushing for 44 yards and a touchdown. The Terriers finished their opener with 534 yards of total offense, including 352 rushing yards.
Advantages for Wofford against Clemson’s Defense-
One of the main advantages for the Terriers as they come into Death Valley Saturday is the fact that Clemson’s defensive front, although experienced in the starting line, are filled with inexperienced yet very talented football players at the backup positions. This meeting will be a test for the younger, inexperienced players because the Terriers are known for running the football the majority of the time and in order to be successful, the Tigers’ defensive front will have to stop the run.
Another main advantage that the Terriers will have going into Saturday is the fact that with their run first offense, the Tigers will have to be very disciplined on defense, staying on their man, performing their job instead of trying to make a play on the ball every play.
A third advantage for Wofford on Saturday is an experienced quarterback and a seasoned full back. Wofford’s senior quarterback Mitch Allen completed 45 of this 85 passes in the 2010 season and rushed for 681 yards. Junior full back Eric Breitenstein has been named to several preseason awards watch lists, including being named the Southern Conference Preseason Player of The Year. Breintenstein led the Terriers with 1,639 rushing yards last season and 22 touchdowns so expect him to have a big game versus Clemson on Saturday.
Advantages for Clemson against Wofford Offense-
The main advantage for Clemson coming into Saturday’s game is the fact that they are familiar with all of the aspects of Wofford’s wing offense. As Kevin Steele described it, the Terriers run an offense that is 40% Georgia Tech, 30% South Carolina and 30% Auburn, all teams that Clemson is familiar playing and preparing for. Because of this, it may be hard for the Terriers to catch the Tigers off guard like they’re hoping to on Saturday.
Another advantage for the Tigers is that Wofford is a run based offense. Allen only threw the ball 85 times last season and therefore the injury to Tiger’s starting safety Rashard Hall that is keeping him from playing versus Wofford this Saturday, won’t be as noticeable. However, Clemson showed in its opener that they are a strong defense when it comes to defending the run. Although they allowed one big rush in Saturday’s game versus the Troy Trojans, they ended the game close to their goal of allowing only 3.0 yards per rush.
The final advantage for the Tigers going into Saturday is that they did not have an impressive first half versus the Trojans in their opener. Although they pulled everything together at halftime and came out a different team in the second half, their coaching staff and team leaders have been making it clear going into the Wofford game that their 43-19 win versus Troy wasn’t good enough and that they need to put together 4 solid quarters of football against Wofford. The Tigers will be coming into Saturday’s game with something to prove, that they have improved as a team since their disappointing 2010 season and that the effort that they gave vs. Troy wasn’t enough to satisfy them. They’re still hungry and ready to show what they can do.