|« Tickets for 2013 FCS Championship game go on sale||Jackson to lead Appalachian State rebound in 2012 »|
Gardner-Webb Looks to Gap-Control Wofford
Saturday night’s season opener at Spangler Stadium has all the elements college football can offer.
It pits two familiar rivals from the same region, Gardner-Webb and Wofford, not to mention that the visiting Terriers are ranked in the preseason in most NCAA Football Championship Subdivision preseason polls.
GWU is certainly looking forward to the challenge in the 6 p.m. matchup.
“My guys are excited,” said second-year Runnin’ Bulldogs head coach Ron Dickerson Jr. “And we’re tired of hitting each other (in practice). We’re the underdog, but we’re excited to see what we can do. We’re going against a great team and coach. This is what college football is all about.”
Adding to the intrigue is Wofford’s traditional ‘wing-T’ option offense that features All-America fullback Eric Breitenstein plus All-SoCon halfback Donovan Johnson.
“As aggressive as we play on defense,” Dickerson Jr. said, “you’ve got to be sound in everything that you do. We try to send people from all angles, but if you’re not careful, against this kind of offense you can leave a crease that opens things up for them. We have to do a good job with things like ‘gap control’ and be sound.”
Both sides count on their running games to set the tone.
“When you just mention ‘Wofford’ anywhere in the country, people know they’re going to run the ball,” Dickerson said. “We want to run the ball too. Time of possession is the key (stat), but at the end of the game, it’s what’s on the scoreboard that matters.
“This should be a great experience for us against great competition, and you want to find how you stand and see where you are.”
Offensive line play will be a crucial area, and that’s one position group Dickerson feels can be one of the strengths of his team. Veterans Steve Demilio and Jamie Dunaway are returning starters and leaders in the trenches for GWU.
“They are a fun group, but on the field they get after it,” Dickerson said. “They’re a close-knit group. If we can stay healthy up front this year, it will be a plus. They also know they have to get better.”
One thing that bodes well for Gardner-Webb this season has been the competition in the spring and in preseason camp for starting spots. The fact so many players saw action last season due to the injury bug, plus the newcomers wanting to make their mark, fuels some of the Bulldogs’ optimism.
“One of the things we wanted in recruiting this year was having freshmen that were ready and really wanting to come in and contribute,” said Dickerson. “And the upper classmen found out they were going to have to bring their ‘A’ game. I’ve been really pleased with the competition.”
By Alan Ford, Shelby Star