Capitals

No. 12 South Carolina won't overlook FCS Wofford

No. 12 South Carolina won't overlook FCS Wofford

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coaches have a new goal for the Gamecocks' defense against Wofford's option attack.

Players won't be turned loose to chase the ball carrier in a controlled frenzy.

``When you play the option, it is about discipline,'' defensive line coach Brad Lawing said.

Discipline won't just be a priority for the defense.

Coach Steve Spurrier expects his offense to stay focused too even though the goal of making it to the Southeastern Conference title game is gone for the Gamecocks (8-2).

Spurrier doesn't have to look far to know the Football Championship Subdivision Terriers (8-2) are a threat. He has played Wofford twice and each time the game was close into the fourth quarter.

``They've had us on the ropes both times we've played them and we're expecting a very similar game. They just play fundamentally sound,'' Spurrier said. ``But we're going to be ready to play. If they beat us, it wasn't because we were (messing) around all week.''

Spurrier said the team has other goals to keep them motivated.

The group can become just the second South Carolina team to go 7-0 at home with a win. A victory also keeps the chance of a second straight 11-win season alive. And Spurrier never loses these games; he is 47-0 in his career against teams outside of the BCS.

A win also allows Spurrier to keep a promise he made fans when he was hired after the 2004 season. He said he would stay around long enough to become the winningest coach in Gamecocks history. A victory Saturday gives him 64 with the school, matching in less than eight full seasons what it took Rex Enright 15 years to accomplish.

Spurrier remains the winningest coach at Florida, joining Paul ``Bear'' Bryant as coaches who hold the record for most victories at two different Southeastern Conference schools. Bryant holds the record at Alabama and Kentucky.

``I thought, like some people thought, that here was a place that has not reached its potential yet - very similar to Florida in 1990,'' Spurrier said.

To win, South Carolina will have to figure out Wofford quirky triple option offense. The wingbone scheme, honed over coach Mike Ayers' 25 years running the 1,550-student college's football team, is designed to cause fits to a team that doesn't play carefully. It's so simple, Ayers doesn't mind explaining it.

``There are basically four things that you have to defend. You defend the dive play, the quarterback keep, the pitch play and the play action pass.,'' Ayers said.

But unless all 11 players on defense are in the right place on each play, the offense is going to be able to move the ball, Lawing said.

``You're not going to stop it. You try to contain it,'' Lawing said. ``Maybe they'll make a mistake.''

Wofford is ranked second in the FCS at 357 yards rushing a game. The Gamecocks have the 12th best rushing defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, allowing 102 yards on the ground.

The Terriers have already clinched a share of the Southern Conference title - a fact Spurrier made sure to point out to reporters - and will likely be in the 20-team FCS playoff field announced Sunday. But Ayers doesn't plan to change his lineup to get ready for a possible playoff game.

Senior fullback Eric Breitenstein will get plenty of carries. He became the school's leading rusher last week with 5,223 yards. Breitenstein has gone over 100 yards in every game this season except for Wofford's 82-0 win over Division II Lincoln (Pa.), when Ayers gave him most of the night off. His coach doesn't plan to give Breitenstein much time on the bench Saturday against South Carolina.

``We're going to go down there and we're going to give it our best shot,'' Ayers said. ``When you give it your best shot, you give it with your best players.''

Quick Links

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

usatsi_10850115.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

Quick Links

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!