Road-weary Charleston Southern returns home to face Charlotte
No college football team in America has played more games on the road this season than Charleston Southern.
CSU, which owns a 7-1 record, has played six of its first eight games away from Buccaneer Field. The Bucs are glad to be home Saturday after last week’s 43-10 loss to Colorado in Boulder.
CSU celebrates homecoming weekend with a 1 p.m. game against Charlotte, not exactly the team CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell would have picked for a homecoming opponent.
Charlotte is in its inaugural season of competition and will be an FBS member of Conference USA next year. The 49ers have won four of their first seven games this season, including wins over Big South Conference members Gardner-Webb (53-51) and Presbyterian (45-21).
“They are very athletic and their personnel is really good,” said Chadwell. “They have a lot of talented skill guys on both sides of the ball. They have some junior college guys and some transfers, but they really have mostly freshmen and redshirt freshmen. They’re young overall and they have had some ups and downs, which is expected. But, they have Division I athletes. “
The Bucs are bruised, battered and banged up physically after eight consecutive weeks of football, but Chadwell says his team is in a good place mentally.
“I think we had two of our sharpest practices, from an energy standpoint, earlier this week,” he said. “I think there are a number of factors for that. We’re back at home for only our third home game. It’s homecoming this Saturday. We expect a big crowd, and I think our kids are excited about it. We’re playing a really good team, so that gets the juices flowing also.”
The quarterback position continues to be a question mark for CSU. Senior Malcolm Dixon is still out with a knee injury, and backup Danny Croghan, a redshirt freshman out of Bishop England High School, missed last week’s game with concussion symptoms. Freshman Kyle Copeland got his first start last week against Colorado.
Chadwell wasn’t sure who would be starting this week.
“Danny has been able to do some things in practice but is not fully cleared, so Kyle has worked a lot and will be ready,” Chadwell said. “It might be Saturday morning before we know, but we’re prepared either way.”
Regardless of the personnel situation, Chadwell says his team must tackle better and execute better in order to have a chance to win.
“We’re not the most athletic team overall and we struggle with athletic teams, and Charlotte is more athletic than we are,” he said. “We can’t turn the ball over like we did last week. We have to tackle better. We have to play as hard as we can play and hope they’re off a little. If we play with effort and do those little things that helped us win seven games, I like our chances. If we don’t, it could be a long day.”
Saturday’s game is a homecoming of sorts for three Charlotte players. Former Timberland High School players James Middleton (defensive lineman) and Daquan Lucas (safety) see significant time on defense, while James Island graduate Justin Bolus is an offensive back. Bolus scored the first offensive touchdown in school history in the season opener against Campbell.