Sports

Confused by Wofford

Confused by Wofford

You watch Wofford, specifically in the second round game against Furman, and you come away impressed with the strength and the look of its running backs. Seems like they throw five guys at you that are in the 5-10, 200-pound range. You look at the quarterback and his ball-handling skills — there were more than a few times Furman didn’t know who had the ball — and you say that is exactly what a triple-option QB should look like. He doesn’t throw much, and completes 56 percent of his passes which is acceptable for a option quarterback, but still gives you that threat nonetheless.

You look at the Terriers’ third-down efficiency and you think that is a stat that kills teams. Wofford is third in the country in that category, often taking advantage of an offense that gets something like four yards on first down and four on second. NDSU will be in trouble Saturday if the Terriers are facing third-and-1 or third-and-2 a lot. You look at the Wofford defense and it gives up just 3.4 yards per rush in a Southern Conference that is built on running the football. The Terriers are 17th in the FCS in rushing defense and 20th in overall defense.

There is one stat I can’t get over with Wofford, however: the victory margin against teams that had a losing record. Seven of the Terriers’ 10 opponents finished under .500 and four of those victories were decided by four points or less. One explanation is several teams in that area of the country run the triple option and they all know how to stop it and they all know how to crack a scoring play here and there. It just makes for a more bunched-up scoring game. But I’m not convinced that explains a 27-24 win over 1-10 Gardner-Webb ( a game that was statistically in the same ballpark), a 28-27 win over 5-6 Mercer or a 24-21 win over 3-8 Chattanooga (a game where the Mocs outgained the Terriers).

On the other hand, the Terriers scored on their first possession of the second half against a pretty good FBS South Carolina team to pull within 14-10. The Gamecocks went on to win 31-10, but Wofford played it decently close against an 8-4 team that finished second in the SEC East.

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