Charleston Southern opens Big South schedule at VMI

Charleston Southern is 6-0 under first-year head coach Jamey Chadwell entering Saturday’s game at VMI. (Paul Zoeller/Staff)

For only the second time in school history, the Charleston Southern football team is ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams at the FCS level. Armed with a 6-0 start and that national ranking, the Buccaneers begin the most important phase of their 2013 schedule, opening Big South Conference play at VMI on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

The Keydets, headed for the Southern Conference next year, are 1-4 start this season. VMI is allowing more than 500 yards per game and yielding 36 points per contest.

CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell says statistics and records mean very little once conference play begins. After all, the only surefire way to be a part of the FCS national playoffs is to win your conference.

“It’s huge for us, our biggest game of the year so far,” said Chadwell. “These records don’t mean anything. We’re 6-0 and they are 1-4, but we are both 0-0. What our six wins have done for us so far is build some confidence in our players and they now believe they can be successful. We are appreciative of each and every win because they are so hard to get . But being 6-0 won’t mean anything on Saturday.”

As well as the Big South Conference has played in non-league games this season, and with an expansion of the playoff system, there is some thought that the league could get two postseason bids this year. Chadwell is not banking on that.

“We have to go on the assumption that we are a one-bid league because that has been the case in the past,” Chadwell said. “Every single conference game is very important. We have not played any yet so we still have a long ways to go.”

Junior running back Christian Reyes could run into the CSU record book Saturday. Reyes needs 95 yards to become the single-season rushing record holder. He enters the game with 660 yards rushing, which ranks 11th in the country.

CSU’s defense has some lofty rankings to uphold as well. The unit is ranked second nationally in third-down defense and ninth in scoring defense.

This will be CSU’s fifth game on the road this season.

“I don’t care who it is or who you play, it’s tough to win on the road, especially in conference play,” said Chadwell. “We got beat up there two years ago. If we don’t go up there and play well, we don’t have a chance. We have not talked any about our records and our ranking with our team. We have talked about the fine line between winning and losing and how small it is. It’s a new season for all of us.”