Charleston Southern quarterback and offense starting to click going into home opener

Charleston Southern quarterback Malcolm Dixon rushed for 163 yards in last week's loss to Jacksonville.

Reinhold Matay

It came as no surprise that Charleston Southern's offense struggled mightily in the first two games of the season.

Not only was the offense rebuilding this fall with a host of young, first-year starters at the skill positions, but the Buccaneers opened the season with games against two of the better defensive teams in the country -- Central Florida and Florida State.

As expected, the offense did indeed struggle, managing only 203 total yards and 10 points.

After a sluggish first half in last week's 37-30 loss to Jacksonville, the CSU offense seemed to find some life in the final two quarters. The Buccaneers finished the game with 411 total yards, including 327 on the ground.

At the helm of the offense is quarterback Malcolm Dixon. The sophomore led the way in last week's loss with 163 yards rushing, the second-highest rushing total by a CSU quarterback in the program's history and the fifth most in a game by any player.

Dixon, named the Big South offensive player of the week for his efforts, says the goal in this week's home opener against Norfolk State is to continue the progress he and his unit made in the second half last week.

"We're starting to find ourselves a little more each practice, and I think we're ready to break out," said Dixon, who added 84 yards passing in the game last week. "We have a lot of new guys on the offense and we knew it would take time to jell. And we started against some great teams, so it was a little behind. We're coming though. The more reps we get, the more confident we get in each other."

Dixon himself is a relatively new starter, though he did start the final three games of the 2010 season. His talents as a runner were evident last season, when he rushed for 182 yards in his three starts.

But Dixon is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback. He has completed 43 of 71 (60 percent) career pass attempts for 420 yards.

"I want to be known as a complete quarterback who can get it done with my arm and my legs, not simply as a running quarterback," said Dixon. "I want to be known as a dual-threat guy. The running thing is just taking advantage of talents that God has given me."

CSU coach Jay Mills said Dixon's ability to make plays with his feet and his arm fits well into CSU's offensive scheme.

"He's a great dual-threat guy, something we prefer to have in this offense," said Mills. "His ability to run obviously is a plus when things break down, but he is a good passer as well. He has a good arm. He has a good head on his shoulders and he works very hard.

"What people don't realize is how much youth he has around him. We lost our top four receivers from last year. We started the season with a lot of inexperience, but I have no doubts in his ability to throw the football and to run this team offensively."