CLEMSON - There's more than just a huge payday on the line for Wofford this
weekend. There's also the matter of respect and notoriety.
The Terriers get the rare opportunity to play on the big stage Saturday when
they visit No. 20 Clemson at Death Valley. It is a situation embraced by head
coach Mike Ayers, even though reality says his team stands little chance at
knocking off its in-state big brother.
In fact, most amateur gamblers already have handed Clemson a 40-point margin
of victory, and another non-sellout crowd is expected at Memorial Stadium.
But like any good coach, Ayers prepares his team as if a victory Saturday is
the only possible outcome.
"You've got to give your team a game plan they can go out and execute, and
who knows, maybe you can beat the big guys," Ayers said. "That's been our
foundation, our plan, ever since we started. If you can get over that initial
hurdle: 'these guys are Division 1-A, we're 1-AA and they're supposed to be
so much better...'
"If you can get over that initial part of that confidence, and have that
belief that you need, those ball games have a tendency to get real tight and
your kids have a tendency to play up to their full potential."
Ayers has something of a track record when it comes to knocking off the
As a Division II team Wofford recorded six wins and a tie against Division
1-AA opponents. Last season, playing in the Division 1-AA Southern
Conference, the Terriers closed the regular season with an upset of Division
That game tied Ayers with Conley Snidow (1953-66) as Wofford's winningest
head coach with 77 victories.
And while getting No. 78 this weekend will be an uphill battle, Ayers can
draw on a common opponent to prove to his team that, yes, they do have a
chance against mighty Clemson.
"We played Marshall three years ago and it was a situation where we had a
(21)-yard field goal to win the ball game," he said. "We were down 29-7 at
the end of the first half, and we came back and the score was 29-27. We had
our shot to win the game."
- Wide receiver Airese Currie and defensive back Kevin Johnson both should be
ready to play Saturday, head coach Tommy Bowden said.
Currie is nursing a chronic mild hamstring strain, while Johnson is
recovering from a shoulder injury suffered against Central Florida.
- Akil Smith has moved back into the starting lineup at left tackle ahead of
Derrick Brantley. Brantley will get playing time behind both Smith and
starting right tackle Gary Byrd.
Offensive line coach Ron West also said Greg Walker will split time at right
guard with starter Will Merritt.