HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days" where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … Wofford.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country with HERO Sports.
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WOFFORD (9-4 IN 2018)
The SoCon (Wofford was T1st in 2018)
COACH: Josh Conklin – At School: 2nd year (9-4 record); Overall: same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2018 (Second Round)
2018 OFFENSE: 29.6 ppg. (45th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 19.0 ppg. (8th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Nov. 16 vs. Furman: The Greenville-Spartanburg rivalry takes it up a notch in 2019. After Wofford won four in a row in this rivalry, Furman knocked the Terriers around last year in Greenville. This will be a late-season affair and may help settle the SoCon title and undoubtedly will have FCS Playoff implications.
SUM IT UP: When you look at this Wofford team, one thing jumps off the page — five starting offensive linemen and a three-year starter at quarterback are back on the roster. Here's the foundation of Wofford football in 2019 — LT Michael Ralph, LG Liam Ronan, C Blake Jeresaty, RG Justus Basinger and RT Josh Burger. They are the biggest reason this triple-option team is ranked in the HERO Sports Top 25. They combined to start more than 60 games last year, and there are reserves who also got starting experience. This is where Wofford football begins.
Then there is quarterback Joe Newman, who first popped onto the scene in 2016 when he wasn't even supposed to be exhausting any of his eligibility as a freshman. Instead, because of injuries, he was forced into action in the postseason and scored the game-winning touchdown in the FCS Playoffs against The Citadel, then rushed for 100-plus yards deep in the playoffs against eventual national runner-up Youngstown State. He's been around a long time and last year he showed he could throw for a bunch of yards too (1,070 yards – a lot in the triple-option). Nathan Walker and Newman will be needed in the run game, as well as some other key names that need to step up.
As good as the Terriers are in the run game offensively, they're equally tough in stopping the run on defense. The program ranked No. 9 last year in run defense and traditionally hovers around that spot. It also owned the time of possession (No. 3 in the FCS at more than 33 minutes per game), another byproduct of a stout triple-option attack. Wofford squeezes its opposition to death.
OUR TAKE: Even with a new coach in place after the retirement of Wofford legend Mike Ayers, there was a nice, smooth transition with the Terriers this past year. Josh Conklin came back to Wofford (he as an assistant 10 years ago) and picked up right where Ayers left off. It was a textbook coaching transition and it doesn't appear the success will end any time soon. There isn't much certainty in the Southern Conference this year, but one thing you can count on is this Terriers team being in the SoCon title hunt and making the playoffs. Very few SoCon teams can say that.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./OL Justus Basinger (HERO Sports 2019 Preseason All American)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./OL Michael Ralph (HERO Sports 2019 Preseason All American); Sr./CB George Gbesee (30 tackles, 3 INTs); Jr./OL Blake Jeresaty (Sophomore AA, returning starter); Sr./P-PK Luke Carter (43.6 yards per punt, 12 of 16 field goals); Sr./QB Joe Newman (670 rushing yards, 5 TDs; 1,070 yards passing, 8 TDs); Sr./LB Jireh Wilson (59 tackles, 6 TFLs); Sr./DL Thad Mangum (51 tackles, 6 TFLs); Soph./FB Nathan Walker (547 yds rushing, 3 TDs)
TOP NEWCOMER: Fr./DL Eric Mizell (Top 300 HERO Sports 2019 signee – Troy and Navy offers, 18 total offers)
THE QUOTE: "It was a good start for us today/ I think we understand what we are supposed to be doing for the most part. They have been here all summer and have been doing a lot on their own. We have to continue to polish them up, but I am excited about where they are at and I think the effort was good. Right now it is all about us and us getting better as a complete football team. We are trying to compete, but compete more individually than offensively and defensively. It is trying to figure out who the guys are going to be and where they are going to fit in the puzzle." — coach Josh Conklin said at the beginning of fall drills
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Wofford Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The SoCon
Chattanooga | ETSU | Furman
Mercer | Samford | The Citadel
VMI | Western Carolina | Wofford
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