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Opening test

Wofford brings an unconventional offense to Raymond James Stadium – one that’s had USF’s full attention through camp.

Sporting a wingbone option attack, the Terriers will provide the first test for the Bulls when they open the season Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.

“They’re a very good football team – we all know that,” said USF coach Jim Leavitt. “We have to play very well. It’s going to be a challenge because of what they do both offensively and defensively. They’re very well-coached.”

Wofford’s triple-option offense rushed for 339.8 yards per game last year, the second-most in college football. However, the Terriers lost their top two leading rushers from last year’s team in quarterback Ben Widmyer and running back Dane Romero.

This year, sophomore quarterback Mitch Allen and junior running back Mike Rucker are listed as Wofford starters. Both saw limited playing time, but USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey is still concerned about the Terriers’ style of offense.

“You have to be assignment conscious – someone has to take the dive,” Tresey said. “Someone has to take the quarterback and someone has to take the pitch. It’s old-fashioned option football. People have to be disciplined and do their job and not guess.”

Helping the cause on USF’s defense will be an experienced defensive line that includes two-time All-American senior defensive end George Selvie. The Bulls also return linebacker Kion Wilson and safety Nate Allen, who both saw significant playing last season.

On offense, USF will be without two of its top running backs, as junior Mike Ford was suspended by the team for the first two games for violating team rules, and Jamar Taylor is out with an injured knee.

Senior Mo Plancher is expected to receive a bulk of the carries early in the season. True freshman running back Lindsey Lamar has earned himself playing time this year with his performance in camp.

Senior quarterback Matt Grothe, who needs 288 yards to become the Big East’s career offensive yard leader, is nursing a minor hamstring injury, which was more of a nuisance than anything, he said.

“It’s fine,” he said. “I’ve been taking it easy in practice the last couple of weeks. It will be alright.”

Wofford, picked to finish second behind Appalachian State in the preseason Southern Conference poll, has played an FBS (Division 1-A) team in nine of the last 10 seasons. They Terriers lost to South Carolina 23-13 last year.

The last time Leavitt said he recalled facing an option offense like Wofford’s was in 1997-98, when the Bulls lost 24-23 to Georgia Southern.

“It’s been a little while since we’ve faced this,” Leavitt said. “It’s tough. We have great respect for them. It’s going to be a very difficult challenge.”

Leavitt said Wofford “is a lot more varied than Georgia Southern” in how it run its offense.

“You have to have great discipline against their offense,” Leavitt said. “They know what they’re doing. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know how to coach their style of offense.”