The offensive line is critical in any play-calling scheme, but you could make the argument that in no offense is it more important than in the Triple Option — which Wofford and Kennesaw State will be running against each other on Saturday in the FCS playoffs.
[divider]COMPARE: Any Two FCS Players | Any Two FCS Teams
PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: Colgate's Chances
JACKSONVILLE STATE'S OLINE: The War Pigs[divider]
COLGATE'S OLINE: The MAPs (censored)
Wofford's offensive line — led by First Team All-SoCon members Michael Ralph and Justus Basinger — is a great example. Ralph and Basinger combine with Liam Ronan, Blake Jeresaty and Josh Burger under the watchful eye of O-line coach Trey Johnson to ignite the engine that is Wofford's Triple Option attack. The Terriers have been operating this way for decades, and they've been winning for decades, too.
It's the Wofford Way … Wofford DNA, so to speak.
"I think especially with the Triple Option we play more hard-nose physical football than most O-lines and more than most D-lines have seen in the playoffs," Ralph told HERO Sports this week. "Outside of the Southern Conference (which has a couple of option-dominated offenses) you just don't see that too often. So it's going to be a tough matchup. We take pride in having a really special rushing offense, but I wouldn't say we brag about it."
What Ralph is getting at is Wofford's habit of being a top five rushing offense — if not the No. 1 rushing offense — in the entire FCS, year in and year out. This year? They're No. 4 and have been in the top five in four of the past five seasons.
"I think my favorite part of this offense is every play being able to fire off the ball and take the initiative with the play," Basinger told HERO Sports. "Others have to wait for the D-line, but we're the ones who initiate the contact. No one can take a play off, either, that's another unique thing about this offense. It's really cool to play in as a lineman because you're a really important part of it. To the blind eye you might not catch it, but those who know the offense appreciate how well this offense works."
WOFFORD VS. KENNESAW ST.: The Comparison
Indeed, it is offensive choreography at its finest. It couples intelligent linemen with a scheme made for intelligent linemen — and it is partially predicated on the defense maybe not having enough time to study for the gameday exam. Many times, that's exactly what happens. The 'Big Guys' as they're known — because no good O-line can go without a nickname — like to stick together, workout together, even study and hit lunch together. In fact, you may find them grabbing a chicken sandwich at Chick Fil-A on campus from time to time.
It's a tight-knit group that swears it thinks as one.
This weekend though, they face a team that also runs a unique option attack — highly seeded Kennesaw State. It'll be in Atlanta, Ga., possibly in sloppy conditions. Hey … Wofford and Kennesaw State weren't going to throw the ball 50 times apiece anyway. The weather may work perfectly for the matchup, as long as mistakes don't come because of the potentially nasty weather.
The Terriers can't wait to get out there.
"It's going to be a tough matchup," Ralph said. "We watched film on them, and they run their defense similar to ours. They see our offense, we see their defense, it's going to come down to execution and who messes up less."
Indeed. Oh, and one other thing, 2019 Wofford opponents — all five of these guys are back next year.