When the Wofford Terriers enter Death Valley on Saturday, they hope to relive some of what the 2011 Wofford team was able to do: make the Clemson Tigers sweat.
Despite all the talent Clemson had in 2011 (remember that was the year they won the ACC), they only managed an 8 point win against Wofford and were actually losing as late as the third quarter.
While Clemson may actually have more talent in 2015, that doesn’t prevent them from overlooking a quality FCS team in Wofford. Kick off is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Death Valley.
Generally, there are two types of games this is the time of year. One consists of the great kick off games featuring two quality programs, such as the Alabama-Wisconsin matchup or Texas going to Notre Dame.
The other type consists of major FBS programs paying smaller schools, often from in state, to come get beat up in front of a large audience. While upsets do happen from time to time, it’s a rare occurrence.
Despite all the high expectations in Clemson this year, there are still quite a few questions to which fans are eagerly awaiting answers. Will the offensive line be capable of ensuring the plethora of talent can light up opposing defenses?
Early returns appear hopeful, with true freshman LT Mitch Hyatt holding his own against one of the best defensive ends in the ACC. The Tigers have excelled in recent years at getting the ball into the hands of talented players in open space which allowed for big plays.
Just look at what a freshman receiver, Artavis Scott, was able to do last year as he racked up nearly 1000 receiving yards despite most of his catches coming around the line of scrimmage. Look for more of the same from new Offensive Coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott.
Defensively, while many expect a huge drop off after half of last year’s best-in-the-nation defense went to the NFL, there is still a wealth of talent and more experience than many realize. While no defensive lineman has starting experience, each of the starters for 2015 played a significant number of meaningful snaps in 2014.
The return of Travis Blanks, a rising star who missed 2014 with a knee injury, helps solidify a linebacker group led by junior Ben Boulware. The strength of the defense, however, will be the secondary. Mackensie Alexander may be the most underrated cornerback in the nation and will tell anyone he can shut down even the best receivers.
As for Wofford, they return 18 starters from their 2014 squad that had a down year at 6-5. With two experienced quarterbacks, the Terriers have plenty of options on offense.
Speaking of options, one of the perks of the Terriers coming into to Death Valley is that it provides real game experience against the triple option, which Clemson will see again in October when Georgia Tech visits Death Valley.
Wofford Head Coach Mike Ayers knows he’s got a tough challenge in week one. “Clemson is an outstanding football team.” That doesn’t mean that the Terriers are in too deep though. With consistency, smart play, and a little luck, Ayers knows that Wofford may just be around like they were in 2011.
“Work hard, play hard, have some fun.”
James Inabinet is the Customer Service Representative for The Herald Independent and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.