CLEMSON – Admit it. You’re addicted, or bored, or both.
You clicked on this link, so two things you need to hear. One, thanks! Two, you’re obsessed with college football. Why else would you be reading an opponent preview with a barrier of nearly three months until kickoff?
Let’s answer that question with another question: why not?
Here’s a chance to bone up on the 12 foes Clemson will face this coming season riddled with expectations. If last fall was any indication, the Tigers could be a few plays away from College Football Playoff contention (don’t push it wide right, Ammon Lakip; don’t snap it high, Ryan Norton; don’t fumble it, C.J. Davidson; don’t tear your ACL, Deshaun Watson) or a few plays away from battling for a decent bowl bid (work on that defense, North Carolina; work on those goal-line calls, Bobby Petrino; and work on those hands, Boston College running back on that wheel route.)
Of course, for the 14th consecutive year, it will all end in the regular season with a date with the Gamecocks. For a change, though, Clemson fans aren’t dreading that day.
But first things first. Wofford comes a’calling 13 Saturdays from now, and as you’ll read below, playing the Terriers is anything but a walk in the park.
Stick with us for the next few weeks, and you’ll read all about the Tigers’ other 11 opponents this fall. Oh, and we’re running the same series with South Carolina.
One Wofford scheduling note: the Terriers opened 2013 at Baylor, which lost the Fiesta Bowl, and opened 2014 with a game 38-19 loss at Georgia Tech, the eventual Orange Bowl champion. Could be a good omen for Clemson.
Wofford coach: Mike Ayers (182-126-1, 28th season)
Returning starters: 19 (10 offense, nine defense)
2014 record: 6-5, 4-3 Southern Conference
Scoring offense: 27.3 points per game (56th in FCS)
Scoring defense: 23.0 points allowed (37th)
Series: Clemson leads 11-3, including 7-0 in Clemson
Last meeting: Clemson 35, Wofford 27: Sept. 10, 2011 in Clemson
Opposing beat writer to follow: Todd Shanesy, Spartanburg Herald-Journal (@TerrierTracker)
1. Pretty good program: The Terriers nipped at the Tigers’ heels the last time these schools, separated by just 64 miles, met: Wofford led 21-13 in the second quarter, but luckily for Clemson, its sophomore quarterback threw for three touchdowns and didn’t turn it over in his second career start. (Deshaun Watson opens his own sophomore year here.) Wofford has made the FCS playoffs six times in the past 12 years, but hasn’t been since 2012.
2. Experience counts: Should be plenty of prepared players for the opener. A whopping 19 returning starters (10 offense and nine defense, plus a couple special-teamers) and 52 overall letterman are back. Ayers continues to employ the wishbone offense, which in 2014 produced the Football Championship Subdivision’s No. 3 rushing offense (296.7 yards and 35 touchdowns on 575 attempts) and its least-proficient passing offense (69.4 yards per game, just 63 completions and eight interceptions in 11 games.) Although Georgia Tech doesn’t come calling until October, it’s a nice chance during fall camp for the Tigers to gear up for the triple option since the Yellow Jackets figure to be one of Clemson’s top contenders for the ACC crown.
3. Welcome home, Mance: The first game for Wofford’s new cornerbacks coach will be a special one. Brian Mance played under Tommy Bowden, from 1999-02, starting the last two years, and was a Clemson graduate assistant from 2010-12, winning an ACC Championship with the team. During his playing career at Clemson, Mance recorded 12 interceptions and more than 1,000 kick return yards. Mance graduated in 2005 with a degree in elementary education, began his full-time profession at North Greenville and was hired by Wofford in April.
Week before: Fall camp
Next week: vs. Appalachian State (Sept. 12, 12:30 p.m.)
On the horizon: at Louisville, bye week, vs. Notre Dame