Originally created 08/20/04

Wofford set for playoff run



It's going to be tough to top what Wofford College did last year.

The Terriers went 14-2, captured the Southern Conference regular season title, and advanced to the Division I-AA national semifinals.

The team was the first SoCon squad to go undefeated within the conference since 1998, finishing 8-0 in the conference.

Coach Mike Ayers received the Eddie Robinson Award as Division I-AA's National Coach of the Year.

And over the past two years the Terriers are the SoCon's winningest team with a 14-2 league mark.

So how do they top it?

It helps to return 15 starters and 43 of 55 lettermen.

Included in that are a pair of All-American offensive linemen, the SoCon Freshman of the Year, running back Kevious Johnson, two experienced quarterbacks and seven starters on a defense that last year allowed the lowest point total in league play in 16 years.

Add all that up and Wofford should make another strong run into the Division I-AA playoffs.

FURMAN: The Paladins return 19 starters, including their top two receivers and starting quarterback.

Butler's Isaac West returns to wideout after a disappointing 2003. He'll be paired with All-Southern Conference first teamer Brian Bratton.

The quarterback position was already solid with the return of starter Bo Moore, but got even better with the transfer of former Florida signal caller Ingle Martin.

PRESBYTERIAN: Head coach Tommy Spangler has 14 returning starters.

The Blue Hose finished fifth in the South Atlantic Conference last year with a 4-6 (2-5) record and will rely heavily on their 1-2 ground game of Corey Mitchell and Jered Southerland and the experience of Zach Ellis, who threw for 18 touchdowns last season.

THE CITADEL: The Bulldogs posted a 6-6 record last year, including an upset win over Georgia Southern to come close to their first winning season since 1994.

They've got a new coach in John Zernhelt, but return last year's leading rusher, Nehemiah Broughton. Their losses include quarterback Willie Simmons.

NEWBERRY: The Indians improved to 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the SAC last season. Their two conference wins were the most for the school since 1999.

Furman transfer Josh Stepp will lead head coach Zak Willis' offense and will have help with four returning starters on the offensive line.

FORT VALLEY STATE: The Wildcats have a good shot at improving on their 7-4 record.

Leading rusher and scorer Derrick Wimbush returns for his junior campaign, having rushed for 1,348 yards and 14 touchdowns.

VALDOSTA STATE: The Blazers' potent passing attack remains intact from last year's 10-2 playoff team.

Barrett Wilkes (3,269 yards, 26 touchdowns) has a bevy of returning receivers to toss the ball to, including last year's second-leading pass catcher, Raymond Thomas.

COASTAL CAROLINA: The second-year program posted a winning season last year at 6-5 under coach David Bennett.

The team could be better this season with 21 starters back.

WEST GEORGIA: The Braves had an off-year under second-year coach Mike Ledford.

Their 3-8 (2-7) finish could improve with the help of 15 returning starters.

BENEDICT: Second-year coach John Hendrick did a great job in turning a 2-9 squad into last year's 6-5 team.

He's got plenty of depth and experience on both sides to improve on that record.

MOREHOUSE: Third-year coach Willard Scissum's offense will revolve around three preseason All Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team members: Running back John David Washington, receiver Raymond Johnson and offensive lineman Claiborne Green.

SAVANNAH STATE: New coach Richard Basil has a lot of work to do to restore some pride to the Tigers.

The team is 3-28 over the past three years and didn't win a game (0-12) last season.

GEORGIA MILITARY: Laney's J.K. Sabb should see plenty of playing time on a strong defense as the Bulldogs search for another national title.