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June 1, 2007Countdown To Kickoff: Preview of App State's 2007 Opponents
Game Four: Wofford College
Where: Gibbs Stadium, Spartanburg, S.C.
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Seating Capacity: 8,500 (13,000 including grass areas)
When: September 22, 2007
Series Record: 15-9 (ASU leads)
Last Meeting: 2006: ASU 14, Wofford 7
2006 Record: 7-4 (5-2 Southern Conference)
Head Coach: Mike Ayers enters his 20th season at Wofford and has compiled a record of 123-89-1 at the Spartanburg, S.C., school. He has a career overall record of 134-110-2. Ayers has been named SoCon Coach of the Year three times in the last seven seasons and won the 2003 Eddie Robinson Award given to the nations top coach. Before arriving at Wofford, Ayers was head coach for three seasons at East Tennessee State.
Returning Starters: 17 (Offense: 7, Defense: 8, Specialists: 2)
2006 by the numbers: Scoring offense: 29.9 ppg; Pass offense: 71.3 ypg; Rush offense: 263.5 ypg; Total offense: 334.8 ypg; Scoring defense: 19.4 ppg; Pass defense: 201.8 ypg; Rush defense:140.2 ypg; Total defense: 342 ypg.
When Wofford has the ball: It is no secret what offensive coordinator Wade Lang and the Terriers will do on offense. Just as they have in the past, Wofford will look to run, run and run some more. The Terriers biggest playmakers on offense all return, giving Wofford every reason to feel good about the 2007 season. In addition to the solid base of experience, Wofford is coming into the season with a five game winning streak, one in which they scored an average of 37.4 points per game. With all the key players from that streak returning, this offense has the potential to be very good.
The most important components to the Terrier offense are senior quarterback Josh Collier and senior halfback Kevious Johnson. Collier, who was not required to do much with his arm (538 yards passing and 5 TDs), was a huge threat to tuck the ball and run with it in the Terriers' option attack. As a result, the Terrier quarterback gained 425 yards on the ground and scored nine touchdowns.
Johnson, who led the team in rushing with 730 yards and tallied six touchdowns, was the team's biggest offensive weapon a year ago. The rising senior finished the 2006 campaign as Wofford's sixth ranked rusher in school history with 2,588 career yards. Barring a major injury he could continue climbing the ladder, as he is just 96 yards shy of fifth place, 613 away from fourth, 694 short of third and 1,098 from second.
Also lining up at halfback will be junior Dane Romero, who rushed for 335 yards and two touchdowns in just 51 carriers, good for a 6.6 yard per carry average. The Terriers other major threat in the running game is fullback Michael Hobbs. The rising senior led the team in carries last season with 122. He also tied for the lead in touchdowns with nine and was second in rushing yards with 579. Adrian Young backed him up at fullback and gained 302 yards on the season.
With each of these players returning the early assumption would be that the Terriers would put up huge numbers on the ground yet again this season. However, the offensive line took a major hit when three of its starters graduated in May, including all-SoCon tackle Will Rutherford. Only center Corey McKenna and right tackle Derek Wooten return. The success of this offense will rely solely on the ability of the new linemen to mesh together as a unit and pick up where last years group left off.
There will not be much to the passing game, however, the Terriers do return its leading wide receiver from a year ago in Andy Strickland, who caught 13 passes for 179 yards and two scores.
What will Wofford do offensively?: The Terriers will run a variation of the triple option attack known as the Wing-bone offense. In this formation the Terriers will line up with two halfbacks and a fullback and will look to throw the defense off by spreading the ball around to each of them. Whether they struggle running the ball or not, this offense will not move away from its game plan.
Match-up to watch: Appalachian State linebackers Pierre Banks, Cam Speer and Jacque Roman vs. Wofford's running backs and quarterback, Kevious Johnson, Michael Hobbs, Dane Romero and Josh Collier.
The big question: Can ASU contain the Wofford option as it did a year ago when it limited it to just 145 yards rushing, almost 120 yards less than the Terriers averaged on the season?
When Appalachian State has the ball:Defensively, Wofford was a very talented team a year ago. In fact, they held Appalachian State to its lowest point total, 14, in 2006. The Terriers also led the nation in turnover margin at 1.91. Wofford forced a total of 31 turnovers in 11 games while committing only 10.
Much of this defense is returning as the only significant loss is second team all-SoCon performer Justin Franklin (81 TT, 2 INT), the team's top inside linebacker. Three of the team's top tacklers return in 2007, all of which line up at linebacker. With the departure of Franklin, rising senior outside linebackers Kevin Adelman (66 TT, 5 TFL, 2 Sacks, 3 INT) and Kyle Horne (64 TT, 12 TFL, 7.5 Sacks) will provide the needed senior leadership to the team. Wofford's top returning tackler, inside linebacker Seth Goldwire (74 TT, 6 TFL, 2.5 Sacks, 2 INT), should be the team's biggest force on defense. Inside linebacker James Mitchell (29 TT, 2 TFL) is expected to replace Franklin.
Defensive end James Gonsoulin is the Terriers top returning defensive lineman after posting 38 tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss and six sacks in '06.
Wofford also returns the majority of its secondary with free safety Brian Ford (45 TT, 1 INT), cornerback Filmon Dawkins (44 TT, 1 INT) and all-SoCon strong safety selection Dan Tavani (68 TT, 5 TFL, 1 INT) leading the way. The defensive backfield will likely replace cornerback Brandon Berry with Brian Kemp, who tallied 29 tackles and one interception in limited playing time last year.
What will Wofford do defensively?: Defensive coordinator Nate Woody will employ a Multiple-50 scheme in an effort to shut down opponents ground game. This defense features three down-linemen, four linebackers and four players in the secondary.
Match-up to watch: App State's running attack, Kevin Richardson, Devon Moore and Armanti Edwards vs. Wofford's extremely talented linebacker corps, Kevin Adelman, Kyle Horne, Seth Goldwire and James Mitchell.
The big question: Will ASU's offense be able to find a way to muster more than 14 points against the Terrier defense?
Wofford's special teams: Chris Tommie returns as the Terriers kickoff specialist and punter. He averaged 41.1 yards per punt in 37 attempts. Tommie and junior Patrick Mugan will compete for the right to take on placekicking duties. Kevious Johnson will likely return kickoffs again in '07, while Dan Tavani will handle punt returns.
9/02/06 ? South Carolina State (W, 28-21)
9/09/06 ? Coastal Carolina (L, 38-41)
9/16/06 ? at South Carolina (L, 20-27)
9/30/06 ? Furman (L, 21-35)
10/07/06 ? The Citadel (W, 28-21)
10/14/06 ? at Appalachian State (L, 7-14)
10/21/06 ? at Elon (W, 35-21)
10/28/06 ? Western Carolina (W, 35-7)
11/04/06 ? at Georgia Southern (W, 28-10)
11/11/06 ? Chattanooga (W, 55-0)
11/18/06 ? at Gardner-Webb (W, 34-17)
9/01/07 ? Georgetown (Ky.)
9/08/07 ? Charleston Southern
9/15/07 ? at North Carolina State
9/22/07 ? Appalachian State
9/29/07 ? at Furman
10/06/07 ? at The Citadel
10/13/07 ? Gardner-Webb
10/20/07 ? Elon
10/27/07 ? at Western Carolina
11/03/07 ? Georgia Southern
11/10/07 ? at Chattanooga