Back Wofford Keys to Victory

Back To SoCon

Wofford Keys to Victory

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin.  Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page

For all intents and purposes, this week eleven Southern Conference matchup that pits the Wofford Terriers and the Chattanooga Mocs against one another will effectively serve as an elimination game, in regards to the FCS Playoffs.

For all intents and purposes, this week eleven Southern Conference matchup that pits the Wofford Terriers and the Chattanooga Mocs against one another will effectively serve as an elimination game, in regards to the FCS Playoffs.

In studying our own Robbie Ross’ FCS Playoff Projections 4.0, as well as speaking to the resident playoff expert, himself, it seems certain that a loss for Wofford would eliminate Mike Ayers and company from the playoff picture, and under certain circumstances could possibly do the same to Chattanooga, should the Mocs drop this one at home.

For example, if, say, North Dakota upset North Dakota State, the Fighting Hawks would earn an auto-bid, but not drop their in-state foe out of the competition, meaning the SoCon would at most have three spots to take instead of the possible four, as currently constituted.

Still, it’s less than likely that a UTC loss would have the immediately obvious impact that a Wofford loss would.

So, as the Terriers travel to Chattanooga on Saturday, their postseason life hanging in the balance, here are the main keys to victory for the Dogs.

Limit the big plays

Through seven conference games, Chattanooga is averaging over 6.4 runs of 10+ yards and nearly three passes of 20+ yards per game. While obviously nowhere near Wofford or The Citadel’s sheer rushing totals, the Mocs are still 12th in FCS football with a super-efficient 228.8 yards per game on 5.46 yards per carry. They do an excellent job of establishing the run with the one-two punch of Derrick Craine and Richardre Badgley. Then, where they get you is with Alejandro Benefield, who throws an excellent deep ball, beating people deep on play fakes. Chattanooga doesn’t live and die with the big play, but if you can limit them, as The Citadel did in the second half when they played, the UTC offense loses its most threatening dimension.

Win the turnover battle

Five of Wofford’s six wins in 2016 have come in games in which it has had fewer turnovers than its opponent. The Terriers are unbeaten in those cases. With a 5:3 gain to loss ratio, Wofford is sitting in the upper echelon of FCS teams when it comes to taking care of the ball. On the other side, Chattanooga, while slightly in the positive for the season, can sometimes be coerced into bad decisions and can be made to cough up the rock. A few big momentum plays, like unexpected changes of possession, can greatly swing the balance in the visitors favor.

Make Chattanooga respect the pass

That doesn’t mean turn into Eastern Washington all of the sudden, that’s not Wofford’s game. That does, however, mean that some small modicum of passing success needs to be established early and maintained throughout the contest. It would be ideal to see the Terriers attempt at least double-digit passes and complete them at a high rate for adequate yardage totals. Wofford should by no means stray from Lorenzo Long, the running game, and their bread and butter. By no means can they sustain the running game for four quarters, though, without the threat of the pass.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP