Things are definitely different when it comes to football at Charleston Southern University.
The Buccaneers, coming off a school-record 10 victories last season, will open the 2014 season Thursday night against Point University in the first night football game ever played at CSU Stadium.
Kickoff against Point, an NAIA school in West Point, Ga., is 7 p.m.
While much of the attention Thursday night will be focused on the SEC battle between nationally ranked South Carolina and Texas A&M, students and fans who follow Buccaneer football hope to have plenty to cheer about.
Second-year head coach Jamey Chadwell senses the level of excitement and anticipation for the upcoming season. He says he will be glad to finally get the 2014 season kicked off.
"Certainly with the season that we had last year, and with us playing the first night game on campus, there is a lot of excitement on campus," Chadwell said. "I'm sure there will be some early nerves by some of our players. Playing under the lights, it's a big step in the development of our program and in the direction that we want to go as a program. To be a part of something for the first time, it's pretty special for everyone."
CSU began fall classes on Monday, something else that made this season opener different from others.
"We had to do a few things out of the normal routine with three weeks of camp," Chadwell said. "It's different in that we usually would start classes, have a full week of practice, and then play the following week."
Chadwell said junior Austin Brown will start at quarterback. Brown, who started 15 games in two seasons at UAB, transferred to CSU in January. With last year's starting quarterback Danny Croghan still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, Brown edged out sophomore Kyle Copeland for the nod.
"Austin has done a good job in camp and seemed to get more and more comfortable as we moved along," said Chadwell. "I think his understanding of the offense really took off in the last week or so. With Danny really not getting enough reps to be ready to play, we felt Austin was our best option. But really, we feel we have good, solid depth at the position."
Point University is beginning its third season of football. The NAIA program won two games in 2012 and managed three victories in 2013. The Skyhawks played Big South teams Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian last season, losing both games.
For Chadwell, Thursday's opponent doesn't matter. He is anxious to see how his team performs, particularly a host of underclassmen who will play key roles either as starters or backups this season.
"There is always a little uneasiness going into a first game because we worry if we have done everything to prepare our team to play," said Chadwell. "We know, on paper, we should win the game, but we will never disrespect any opponent. For Point, this is a great opportunity. Anytime they can play a Division I program, it's their super bowl. We expect them to play hard and to play with lots of motivation."
Thursday's game will be the first of four consecutive home night games at CSU. The Buccaneers will host Newberry on Sept. 6.