Welcome to a new series in our summer FCS coverage. We'll take a look at each team who made the 2016 quarterfinals and discuss how its fan base should feel entering this season. Can their team make a further playoff run? Are they a national title contender? Should they be worried about a drop off?
We'll talk about it all each week for the following quarterfinal teams:
"What could have been?" is probably a question that has crept into the minds of the Wofford football program and its fans all offseason.
A 30-23 double-overtime loss to Youngstown State ended Wofford's season in the FCS quarterfinals. The Penguins went on to defeat Eastern Washington 40-38 in the final seconds of the semifinals. The game was played in 12-degree weather where Wofford's option rushing attack likely would have been favored against EWU's passing game for a trip to the national championship.
Would've, could've and should've doesn't work in football, though. But it's a decent way to measure how close the Terriers were to playing for a national title. And with several key starters returning, it puts them right back in the national title picture in 2017.
It all starts with solid defense, something any team aspiring for a championship needs.
Wofford was No. 5 in total defense (287.2 yards per game) last season and No. 6 in scoring defense (17.1 points per game). The unit returns seven of its top 10 tacklers, including linebacker Datavious Wilson, who led the team with 97 tackles as a freshman.
The option offense can give any team fits, especially in the playoffs. The Terriers were fourth in the FCS with 279.6 rushing yards per game. Workhorse back Lorenzo Long (294 carries for 1,424 yards and 18 touchdowns) is gone. No other player carried the ball more than 85 times or had more than 550 yards in 2016. But senior Brandon Goodson brings experience to the quarterback position for an offense returning six starters.
With The Citadel losing key players to graduation or transferring, the Terriers have a great chance to climb atop the Southern Conference. They went 6-2 last year while The Citadel went 8-0, yet the Terriers won the second matchup in the playoffs, 17-3. That was part of a 6-game winning streak after losing to the Bulldogs 24-21 in late October.
But the streak came to an end in Youngstown. It was a game where a play gone differently here or there could have made the difference. A long offseason with that in the back of their mind may see the Terriers become one of the hottest teams in the FCS in 2017.
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