Ole Miss Football: Wofford Preview with Todd Shanesy

Sep 5, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Wofford Terriers quarterback Evan Jacks (3) looks to pass the ball during the second half against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2015; Clemson, SC, USA; Wofford Terriers quarterback Evan Jacks (3) looks to pass the ball during the second half against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports /

Ole Miss football opens up the home schedule with Wofford this weekend. We get a preview from Wofford beat writer Todd Shanesy of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

Q: Wofford lost its starting QB to injury in practice. Has this changed anything the Terriers do offensively?

A: Not a thing. Wofford actually used three quarterbacks, each getting at least three starts last season. Evan Jacks settled in toward the end and was finally, as a fifth-year senior, declared the true No. 1 during this preseason. He suffered a career-ending knee injury during the Terriers’ first scrimmage of fall camp. That left juniors Brad Butler and Brandon Goodson to battle it out. Butler was named the starter last week on game day. Jacks was by far the best runner of the three, a playmaker with speed. Butler, however, ran for three touchdowns in the opening 21-7 win against Tennessee Tech and no quarterback had done that at Wofford since 2012. Goodson will likely play a good bit as well against Ole Miss. The playbook is the same for both. Decision-making and taking care of the football is more important than their actual stats.

Q: Have any of the Wofford coaches mentioned about what they see on film from Ole Miss or how they plan to attack the Rebels?

A: Head coach Mike Ayers hasn’t revealed much, but the plan will be about the same. The Terriers will try to take was the defense gives them, changing the plays at the line of scrimmage, as far as where and how wide to attack with the rushing game. They know they have their hands full on defense. Ayers said Ole Miss on offense has the potential to be “somewhere between Baylor and Superman.” Pressure from the defensive front and linebackers, which was better last week than in any game last season, is crucial.

Related Story: https://olehottytoddy.com/2016/09/08/ole-miss-football-wofford-exactly-rebels-need/

Q: Wofford uses a triple-option offense. Is this similar to what we see from Georgia Tech and the service academies or is it a different style?

A: Very similar. Wofford uses more of the option out of the shotgun formation. The Terriers want to make defenses respect the fullback up the middle and play off that. In the perfect scenario, they’ll only attempt about five passes and certainly not more than 10. They’ll use misdirection and sometimes trickery to make it difficult for the defenses to know where the ball is going. Sometimes they’ll load up one side of the line, adding a tight end, and then go to the weak side. When things are clicking, it’s like trying to figure out a street magician playing the shell game.

Q: Wofford normally plays South Carolina or Clemson as its FBS opponent for the season. How excited is the team to play an out of state SEC team?

A: Those are the most common FBS opponents for Wofford, but the Terriers three years ago played Baylor (that didn’t go too well with a 69-3 final) and two years ago played Georgia Tech (that went a little better, 10-9 at the half of a 38-19 final). Wofford played at Wisconsin in 2009 and has also played at West Virginia. The excitement level is certainly there, but mostly because Ole Miss is a top-20 team that could still make a run at the national championship. The Terriers got a taste of that last season at Clemson. The trip is close enough for family, fans and students to go. They are happy about that. Not too many went to the Baylor game.

Q: Coach Mike Ayers has been at Wofford for 29 seasons. What has led to him being there so long when you rarely see that anymore in today’s college football landscape? 

A: Wofford is truly like a family and Ayers has been the father figure, maybe now the grandfather figure. Six of his assistant coaches played for Ayers and another is the son of a former player and coach for the Terriers. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Wade Lang is his 27th season on staff. He was a former halfback for the Terriers. Until recently, there were two other top assistants that had also been with the team for more than 20 years. Ayers is comfortable at Wofford and he’s beloved not only on campus but in the entire community. The Terriers have won four Southern Conference championships since 2003 and had a recent run in which they went to the FCS playoffs five times in six years. That’s remarkable for a school with 1,600 students. It further endeared Ayers to the family.