With three games left to play and after an 0-4 start, Charleston Southern's football team finds itself in position to finish at .500.
The Buccaneers have won three of their last five games, including a Big South Conference win over Gardner-Webb (30-27) last week. CSU (3-6 overall, 1-2 Big South) host Hampton (5-4, 1-2) on Saturday.
The Bucs have been far from perfect, but head coach Autry Denson sees an ever-growing confidence in his team as they find success.
“Winning gives them a fight to their faith,” Denson said. “It gives them more conviction in what they are doing. When they get to experience the good result, it just adds to their faith and makes them want it more.
“The hope is that our guys are maturing through the process. We have been in every possible situation that you could be in with the schedule we have played. I’d like to think our guys have learned a lot and will continue to learn.”
Hampton will present many challenges for CSU, with none bigger than Pirates quarterback Deondre Francois, who transferred to Hampton from Florida State. Francois leads the Big South with 20 touchdown passes and 24 touchdowns overall. He is averaging 229 passing yards per game.
Denson knows Francois very well from his days as a Notre Dame assistant.
“I’ve been watching him since high school and he is tough young man,” Denson said. “I’ve seen him take some really hard hits but he just keeps getting up and fighting. He will find a way to keep going and he makes those around him better. It’s a challenge, but if he makes 10 plays, we have to make 11. That’s what it’s all about, making one more play.”
Charleston Southern quarterback Jack Chambers, a redshirt sophomore, is coming off a big game last week. He totaled 290 yards and accounted for three scores, including a 70-yard touchdown run. He also completed a season-high 25 passes.
“When the trigger man is on point, it makes it easier to call plays,” Denson said. “It’s good to see him out there having fun and learning each week. His growth is exciting to see develop.”
With the prospects of a strong finish this season, Denson has been cautioning his team about looking ahead.
“At the end of the day, each game is just one game and has a life of its own,” he said. “We want to be 1-0 on Saturday. Hopefully, being at home, we can give our fans what they deserve.”