Wofford-South Carolina Preview
South Carolina is probably looking forward to playing its in-state opponent next week, but Steve Spurrier insists his team is focused on the one his team faces this Saturday.
The coach feels his No. 12 Gamecocks could be challenged by FCS foe Wofford's triple-option attack in this home finale.
South Carolina (8-2) has two games left, with next week's annual rivalry game against No. 11 Clemson much anticipated locally with both teams enjoying solid seasons. Spurrier insists he will have the Gamecocks focused on extending their home win streak to 11 on senior day.
"We're going to be ready to play," said Spurrier, who can tie Rex Enright's school record of 64 victories. "If they beat us, it won't be because we were screwing around all week."
Wofford (8-2) is no pushover, clinching a share of the Southern Conference title with a 16-13 overtime win over Chattanooga last Saturday. The Terriers are ranked ninth in the FCS Coaches Poll.
Fullback Eric Breitenstein is averaging 152.8 yards on the ground to lead the second-best rushing attack in the FCS in producing 357.1 yards per contest.
Wofford's attack is a style unfamiliar to SEC teams, who usually defend against zone-blocking schemes according to Terriers coach Mike Ayers.
"You've got to be disciplined for four quarters against it, you've got to understand your fits, where you fit as a defense in it," Ayers said. "You've got to understand that it's a different style of blocking - a lot of the blocking that's gonna occur with option football is going to be double teams. You're going to have scoop blocks, you're going to have cut blocks."
South Carolina is fourth in the SEC in rushing defense, yielding 102.4 yards per game. The Gamecocks limited Arkansas to 83 yards on the ground in last week's 38-20 victory, but they know Saturday's matchup poses a different threat.
"About the triple-option, the main thing is discipline, staying in your gap, fitting in your gap and trusting the man beside you," defensive tackle Byron Jerideau said. "That's what we've got to do this week."
The Gamecocks have won the last 15 meetings with the Terriers. Both matchups with Spurrier in charge have been close - a 27-20 win in 2006 and a 23-13 victory two years later.
"They've had us on the ropes both times we've played them," Spurrier said. "We're expecting a similar game."
Spurrier also pointed out that Wofford led Clemson in the second half last season in a 35-27 defeat.
Although the Terriers have clinched a share of their conference title, Ayers is still unsure whether his team will qualify for the FCS playoffs for a third straight year. As a result, he says Wofford won't be looking ahead.
"When you play these games, the deck is stacked against you but at the same time you play these games for an opportunity to hopefully go down there and improve and get better as a program," Ayers said. "It's not a situation where we're going to hold anybody back or hold anything back."
Defensive back D.J. Swearinger had a career-high 13 tackles and an interception to earn co-SEC defensive player of the week honors.
Swearinger and Jerideau are part of a senior class that will be honored Saturday. South Carolina has won at least eight games in three straight seasons for the first time.
"This is your last go around, you're seniors," Spurrier said. "You'll remember this the rest of your life. Let's try to make it special."