Collier still the man

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Collier still the man

Postby Rowdy on Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:42 am

Wofford still counting on Collier

GREENVILLE -- Wofford football head coach Mike Ayers finally heard a good question Tuesday morning at the Southern Conference media day.

"Catching any fish?"

That perked the coach right up.

"As a matter of fact," he said, "I caught some trout up in Vermont. Caught one big rainbow in West Virginia. And I caught a mess of stripers this year. You're probably going to say I'm lying, but I did catch a 12-pound largemouth. I put him back."

"I'd like to see a picture -- not that I don't believe you," the reporter said.

"We didn't have a camera," Ayers said.

Eventually, the subject tends to get back to football on football interview days.

At the Hyatt Regency downtown, Ayers had to talk about his team's losing record in the conference last season; the loss of his best defensive player, nose tackle Katon Bethay, to graduation; and being picked to finish in the bottom half of the standings. Fellow coaches put Wofford fifth in their preseason poll, and the media figured the Terriers will finish sixth of eight.

"That's fine," Ayers said.

"When you end up 6-5, that's where you go. But that's not going to be the indicator. The indicator is how hard we work in August and how well we play in September, October and November. You never know."

The last time the Terriers were picked this low, 2003, they went undefeated through the conference and made it all the way to the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals.

Wofford still owns the league's best record (35-13) for the past four seasons.

Much will depend on quarterback Josh Collier, a junior in his fourth season with the program. He became a starter last year and showed flashes, but was inconsistent. Wofford fans in the previous few years had been spoiled by Travis Wilson rising to second all-time in total offense, and by the duo of Jeff Zolman and Trey Rodgers taking the Terriers deep into the postseason with exciting play.

By comparison, Collier's debut as the starting signal-caller seemed less than overwhelming. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder from Bonaire, Ga., did account for nine touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards, rushing for 530 (3.7 per attempt) and passing for another 617.

If Ayers had any concerns, he might have been out trying to lure quarterbacks instead of fish.

"I'm expecting Josh to be a heck of a player," Ayers said. "That's what I'm expecting."

Collier is a hard worker who often stops by the coaches' offices to watch film on his own. He thoroughly knows script of the triple-option offense. Sometimes, however, that script calls for him to ad lib.

"In our offense, he's the guy," Ayers said. "Every time he takes the ball, he's got to make decisions on the run in a fraction of a second. Last year, quite frankly, for the most part, he made great decisions. Looking at him in the spring, he's starting to know when to create on his own. Overall, I think the game is coming to him."

That tends to happen, Ayers said, in a player's second full season.

"The light bulb comes on," he said, "and they can see."

Collier's patience and work ethic are well demonstrated by the two jobs he's held this summer.

Back in Georgia for the first months, he helped out in a nursing home.

"They're good people, you know? I liked talking to them," he said. "But they sure ask for a lot of things. They keep you going back and forth."

He returned to campus recently to get a head start on the season, which begins with the first practice Aug. 7, and is working at a discount store distribution center.

"That's a tough job," Collier said. "It's all about loading stuff on a conveyer belt all day long. I cut my hands up throwing those boxes. I've got a few splinters from the wooden pallets."

With it comes to giving the Wofford football team a boost, heavy lifting may be involved. Collier seems up for the task.

"I think he's going to be an excellent quarterback," Ayers said, "and an excellent leader for our team."

Todd Shanesy can be reached at 562-7273 or

Postby Ruckus on Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:03 pm

I think every Terrier fan hopes Mike's right.
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The job should be wide open

Postby T-fan on Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:00 pm

Based upon what I saw in the spring the same mistakes that happened
last season also occurred in those scrimmages. I think if Widmyer had not been hurt that those two would be totally even at this point. Collier has the edge because he did start last year but Widmyer should get his chances and the best QB will play. In my opinion Collier is not a lock as a starter and based upon last season he shouldnt be.

Postby Ruckus on Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:37 pm

I don't think anybody is a lock for any position under Coach Ayers. Every day they have to earn their spot. As for Widmeyer and Collier, they both are good smart athletes who seem to be great kids. I just hope they stay healthy and one of them has "the light come on" as Coach Ayers like to say. His comments about improvising and play making are very illustrative of the fact that successfully running the option in our offense requires more feel and creativity than what it may appear. Which explains why some really capable athletes can't run it as well as others. It's not necessarily something you can teach. A prime example of this was Rodney Williams at Clemson several years ago. He was never a very talented athlete but he had a great feel for the option (he also took more punishment than others). Same could be said for Bobby Lamb at Furman (although he was very talented passer as well). Just my thoughts on an other wise slow day.
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Postby T-fan on Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:52 pm

Ruckus, you are exactly right. Coach Ayers wants to win and the players whom he feels will give him the best chance to win will be on the field. I actually wish Widmyer would have had the luxury of having a red shirt year last year, as Collier did his first year. But the way the depth chart stacked up he had to burn a year.

Postby Ruckus on Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:35 pm

Agreed. Though I don't think the coaching staff will hesitate this year to make changes at the qb spot (assuming everyone is healthy; the first 4 games scare me to death) as opposed to last year where they really didn't have much option other than Collier. I assume Widmeyer is/will be back 100% from his shoulder/collarbone injury. We really need him regardless of how Collier plays. The good news is: next year should be a great year for us at qb. I am like you though: from what i have seen, Widmeyer has "it", whatever "it" is.
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