Terriers, ’Dogs out for respect

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Terriers, ’Dogs out for respect

Postby BestOfBreed on Thu Aug 31, 2006 9:02 am

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/sp ... 402744.htm

Terriers, ’Dogs out for respect
S.C. State, Wofford begin season on Saturday with an eye on the playoffs
By JIM MCLAURIN
jmclaurin@thestate.com

Aretha Franklin had it right. It’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. In the key game of the state’s opening weekend of football, two schools are out to get a little more of it.

"Six and five is just not going to cut it," said Wofford senior linebacker Justin Franklin. "We’re going to find out pretty early how good we actually are."

The Terriers’ 6-5 campaign of 2005 was indeed sub-par for a Mike Ayers-coached team, and Franklin had a point. When the Terriers face South Carolina State at 7 p.m. in Gibbs Stadium on Saturday, the game could go a long way in determining each team’s perception of itself — and the perception from outside of both.

The Bulldogs, even with a 9-2 mark last year, were overlooked when the post-season playoff grid was set. Outside of S.C. State winning the Middle Eastern Athletic Conference championship this year — and Wofford doing the same in the Southern Conference — both teams’ out-of-conference results could be the deciding factor in whether they’ll sit home again this year.

A good finish in the Southern Conference would do Wofford more good than a second-place finish in the MEAC would the Bulldogs. The past two seasons State has finished 9-2, losing only to Hampton in the conference, and have yet to make the playoffs. Three Southern Conference teams did.

The pre-season polls also bear out that respect. Three Southern Conference teams are among the top 12 in The Sports Network’s poll (No. 1 Appalachian State, No. 5 Furman and No. 12 Georgia Southern). Even winning the MEAC, Hampton was rated only 13th, and S.C. State was 29th.

"I read that (Sports Network’s) Matt Dougherty guy," said S.C. State coach Buddy Pough. "I've got two problems with him and the first is, he seems to be accurate.

"He ain't giving us props right now, and until we go out and beat some of the Woffords or Coastal Carolinas ... It's all about respect. When you start winning non-conference games. Until we go out and start beating some of those guys consistently, our fate is where it is now."

All of which makes Saturday’s game more important than an easy win over a lesser team. Each is a worthy foe, and it’s never too early to put a nice feather in your cap.

"I know what Buddy’s saying," said Ayers. "In 2002, we were 9-3 and had beaten some quality people, and we ended up not being selected.

"I think when you’re playing non-conference games, if you don’t win those games, later on it can come back to haunt you.

"Every game’s a big game."

Reach McLaurin at (803) 240-3514.
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