1. Coastal Carolina (9) 84
2. Liberty (6) 80
3. Gardner-Webb 58
4. Charleston Southern 39
5. VMI 27
5. Presbyterian 27
Charleston Southern was picked to finish fourth in the 2013 Big South Conference preseason poll, and two Buccaneers were selected all-conference at the league’s annual preseason kickoff luncheon in Charlotte on Thursday.
Coastal Carolina was the choice of the league’s media and coaches to capture the league’s championship, followed by Liberty and Gardner-Webb. Coastal Carolina is the defending league co-champion and is coming off an 8-5 season.
Following CSU in the poll were VMI and Presbyterian College.
The Buccaneers are led this season by first-year head coach Jamey Chadwell, who was an assistant at the school during the program’s only Big South Conference title in 2005. The Buccaneers were 5-6 a year ago, going 3-3 in the Big South.
“We have not had a winning season in three years so this football team is hungry,” said Chadwell. “We had a great spring camp and they have been working really hard all summer. We’re out to change the mentality and change the culture and we have made a lot of changes in a lot of areas. It’s a new start for CSU football.”
Among the changes: The Bucs are going from the traditional gold helmets to white helmets.
Senior running back Teddy Allen and senior safety Elijah Lee were selected to the preseason all-conference team. Allen is CSU’s top returning rusher, gaining 576 yards with nine touchdowns last season. Lee was the Bucs’ top tackler with 70 a year ago.
CSU also announced that three of its home games this season will kick off at 11 a.m. Those games include the home opener Sept. 7 against Shorter, the North Greenville game on Oct. 5, and the final game of the regular season Nov. 23 against Liberty.
“It gives our team and university great exposure because we will be playing an hour before anyone else begins their games,” said Chadwell. “Secondly, we feel it will increase our support throughout the community by giving fans the chance to watch us early and still have the rest of the afternoon and night to experience our great city.”
CSU will kickoff the season at The Citadel on Aug. 31. The Buccaneers will play seven of their 12-game schedule on the road this season. For the first time since 2006, CSU will not be playing an FBS program, but the schedule does include a road game at Appalachian State. CSU will play two FBS schools in 2014.
“It is a very challenging schedule, playing two quality teams like The Citadel and Appalachian State on the road,” said Chadwell. “Our conference is also very competitive. I don’t think there is one single team that much better than the rest of us so it makes for a very competitive game week in and week out. If we take care of what we do, we’ll have a chance in every game.”
2013 Big South Preseason All-Conference team
QB - Josh Woodrum, Liberty - R-Soph.
RB - Teddy Allen, Charleston Southern - Sr.
RB - Lorenzo Taliaferro, Coastal Carolina - Sr.
WR - Matt Hazel, Coastal Carolina - Sr.
WR - Kenny Cook, Gardner-Webb - R-Jr.
WR - Niccolo Mastromatteo, Coastal Carolina - Sr.
TE - Seth Cranfill, Gardner-Webb - R-Jr.
OL - Chad Hamilton, Coastal Carolina - R-Jr.
OL - Jamey Cheatwood, Coastal Carolina - R-Sr.
OL - Hunter Steward, Liberty - R-Sr.
OL - Will Lucas, VMI - Sr.
OL - Drew Herring, Coastal Carolina - R-Sr.
DL - Preston Pemasa, Gardner-Webb - Sr.
DL - Matt Goods, Gardner-Webb - R-Sr.
DL - Cory Freeman, Liberty - R-Sr.
DL - Francis Bah, Liberty - R-Sr.
LB - Quinn Backus, Coastal Carolina - Jr.
LB - Tanner Burch, Gardner-Webb - Jr.
LB - Nick Sigmon, Liberty - R-Jr.
LB - Mike McClure, Coastal Carolina - Sr.
DB - Walt Aikens, Liberty - R-Sr.
DB - Elijah Lee, Charleston Southern - Sr.
DB - Kevin Fogg, Liberty - R-Sr.
DB - Johnnie Houston, Coastal Carolina - R-Sr.
PK - John Lunsford, Liberty - Soph.
P - Grant Bowden, Liberty - Sr.
LS - Hudson Smith, Gardner-Webb - R-Sr. (tie)
LS - Richard Wright, Liberty - R-Sr. (tie)
KR - J.J. Hubbard, Gardner-Webb - Jr.
PR - Niccolo Mastromatteo, Coastal Carolina - Sr.
PRESEASON OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Matt Hazel, Sr., WR, North Augusta, S.C. – Coastal Carolina
PRESEASON DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Quinn Backus, Jr., LB, Greenwood, S.C. – Coastal Carolina