Coming off the biggest win in school history, and going on the road to face a struggling Gardner-Webb team, Charleston Southern head football coach Jamey Chadwell has spent the last week making sure his team is not paying attention to polls and listening to talk of conference championships.
Win or lose today, the Buccaneers will be playing for the Big South title next Saturday when they host Liberty. Chadwell is making sure the talk of next week’s game does not interfere with the business at hand.
“We haven’t mentioned it all,” said Chadwell of the potential championship. “I don’t wanna talk about that. I talk about this team going out and playing the best they can, and whatever happens after you play the game happens. I want us to focus on us and on this game, not what that game can mean for us. After the game, then I feel like it is the appropriate time to discuss conference championships and that sort of thing.”
While Charleston Southern (10-1, 3-0) would appear to be favored over a Gardner-Webb team that has lost three straight Big South games to fall to 5-5 overall, Chadwell is more focused on the Bulldog team that opened the season 4-1, including wins over nationally ranked Richmond and Wofford.
“We know they are a good football team,” said Chadwell. “Our guys can see on film they have beaten some good teams. “Maybe we are a little more confident right now than they are, but they will be ready to play on Saturday.”
Turnovers have been an issue for the Bulldogs, who rank dead last nationally with 29 turnovers this season.
“Their personnel is good, a good running back and quarterback, good offensive line, but they have turned it over 10 times in three conference games and it’s hard to win like that,” said Chadwell.
However, the Bulldogs do play good defense, ranking seventh nationally in total defense. Defensive ends Shaquille Riddick and Preston Pemasa have combined for 10 sacks and 25 tackles for loss.
“Their defense is as good as we’ve seen,” said Chadwell. “Their interior guys are really good and they are going to give us trouble. It will be a challenge for our offense against their defense.”
Charleston Southern’s offense ranks eighth nationally in rushing, averaging 256.5 yards per game. The Buccaneers are first in the country in time of possession.
Chadwell says his team has not played particularly sharp in recent road games, despite winning two of those games.
“Anytime you go on the road, I don’t care what your record is, it’s tough to win on the road,” he said. “As a team, we really have not played particularly well on the road recently. We were OK at VMI, got beat by Colorado, and played OK at PC. We have not played to the same level that we have lately at home. We have one last opportunity to try to play our best game on the road.”