Will Wofford football slip or soar in 2013?
Add the 2013 Wofford football team to the list of things on which no one can agree.
Coaches in the Southern Conference voted the Terriers fifth in the league in their preseason poll. FCS coaches across the country voted Wofford fifth in the nation.
Which prediction will be closer to the truth?
That depends on which view you take of the Terriers, who are coming off a 9-4 overall record, 6-2 SoCon mark and a share of the league title last year.
One view argues for slippage because Wofford lost All-America fullback Eric Breitenstein, who accounted for 2,035 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns last year; starting quarterback Brian Kass, now at Coastal Carolina; and longtime defensive coordinator Nate Woody, now at Appalachian State.
The last time Wofford played without Breitenstein for an extended period was in 2009, when he suffered an early knee injury and the Terriers went 3-8.
The other view argues that 26th-year coach Mike Ayers, who has averaged 8.1 wins per year over the last 11 seasons, will once again maintain standards.
“We have some guys who have grown and matured,” Ayers said. “And now it’s their time.”
Senior Donovan Johnson (5-8, 190), who rushed for 473 yards last season, is eager to fill Breitenstein’s role. All-SoCon center Jared Singleton is confident that he can.
“Eric is a great player and his shoes will be hard to fill,” said Singleton, one of two starters back on the offensive line. “However, we have new people who can make a name for themselves. As an offensive line, we want to make sure everybody who touches that football has the opportunity to be just as good as Eric, if not better.”
At quarterback, junior James Lawson (6-2, 205) is the man after starting two games last year, including a 23-7 playoff win over New Hampshire. He threw just 31 passes last year but has capable backup in sophomore Michael Wiemer (6-5, 220) and freshman Evan Jacks (6-0, 200).
On defense, don’t expect huge changes under new coordinator Jack Teachey. He’s been at Wofford 20 years, and the Terriers led the SoCon in scoring and total defense last season. He’s got some playmakers in senior linebackers Mike McCrimon and Alvin Scioneaux and senior safety James Zotto.
With an opening stretch at Baylor, at The Citadel and Georgia Southern, the Terriers might find out quickly in which direction they are headed.