Most homecoming game opponents are teams the home folks expect to beat.
So the fact that Charleston Southern plays at Division II Shorter University as the Hawks’ homecoming opponent says a lot about the struggles of the Buccaneers’ football program.
Charleston Southern has lost 15 consecutive games entering today’s 1:30 p.m. game in Rome, Ga., and faces a team that is in its first season of transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II status.
Shorter already has a win over an FCS opponent this season, beating Campbell in the season opener. The Hawks also played well in a 17-14 loss in Week 2 to Newberry.
CSU is coming off a 44-0 loss to Illinois last week in a game that saw the Bucs play competitively despite the margin of victory.
CSU coach Jay Mills played a lot of players in that game, including three quarterbacks — Brian Van Brunt, Derek Hatcher and Malcolm Dixon. The results offensively were marginal as CSU managed only 125 total yards, including 29 yards passing.
“We wanted to find out what some guys could do,” said Mills.
“If they could handle a pressure situation against a top FBS conference school. We feel like they’re going to be in great shape the rest of the way as we play FCS and Division II programs.”
After allowing 472 yards rushing to The Citadel in the first week of the season, CSU’s run defense has improved dramatically over the last two weeks, allowing only 106 yards on the ground per game.
That defense will be challenged by Shorter’s option attack, which averages 251 yards per game and 4.6 yards per attempt.
“We’re getting better fundamentally and starting to buy in and we’re starting to have success defensively,” said Mills. “We saw (the option offense) earlier in the year and had difficulties with it, but I’m confident that we will continue to progress and push through it.”
CSU’s defense is second in the Big South Conference with five sacks through three games and it’s red-zone scoring defense is tops in the league.
Senior cornerback Charles James recorded his 11th career interception last week and is now tied for the all-time school record. He ranks third in Big South history in career picks.