If ever a team needed a “get well” game, it’s Charleston Southern.
The Buccaneers get that opportunity Saturday when Virginia-Lynchburg, a small school competing in the National Christian Colleges Athletic Association, comes to CSU Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
Charleston Southern is 1-3 after a shocking 23-3 loss to Savannah State a week ago. The Buccaneers had never lost to Savannah State and none of the previous seven games against the Tigers were close. Savannah State, which entered the game winless, is dropping down to Division II football after this season.
CSU's first two losses this season, to Florida and Elon, were not unexpected, though CSU held a 22-10 lead on Elon in the third quarter. That same Elon team knocked off James Madison last week.
Now, CSU is in scramble mode to get back on track. The Buccaneers will be favored in their next two games and a win Saturday, coupled with a win next week against Presbyterian in the Big South Conference opener, would put CSU at .500 for the stretch drive.
“We gotta go back to work and get better,” head coach Mark Tucker said after last week’s loss. “It will never change. We have plenty of things out there to play for.”
Here are four keys to victory the Bucs:
Wake up and play
CSU has a home game, at night, against an inferior opponent. If the loss last week left a bad taste, the Buccaneers should come out focused and put this game away early.
VUL is 2-3 this season after failing to win a game last year. It played Newberry tough (27-14 loss) so there is a handful of talented players on the roster. But this is all about CSU and the team's collective mindset. If the Bucs show up and play to their potential, this should be an easy win.
Find a passing game
CSU is averaging 47.5 passing yards per game. It has moved from dead last (No. 124) in FCS football to No. 123. Redshirt quarterback London Johnson has to improve his completion rate (39.6 percent) and the offense as a whole must eliminate turnovers (11 in four games).
While it is true that CSU operates out of the option, the passing numbers are far below what was produced in the previous five seasons. The Buccaneers averaged 144.14 yards and 14.6 touchdowns through the air from 2013-17. Head coach Mark Tucker was the quarterbacks coach for four years under Jamey Chadwell before elevating to head coach. The offense is the same as it was five years ago.
While linebacker J.D. Sosebee and defensive back Brandon Rowland are having all-conference seasons, the defense as a whole has not found its collective stride. CSU has allowed eight touchdown passes in four games and yields 207 yards rushing per game. Again, early competition has something to do with those numbers but Savannah State had more rushing yards against CSU than did Florida.
Take a deep breath
This game is not about X’s and O’s. CSU has the better talent. The Bucs need a win, a big win. A convincing win. With the negativity building, a lot can change with a strong, dominating performance. The Bucs are traditionally a team that plays with a chip on their shoulder. It’s time to bring the chip back.
Charleston Southern 49, Virginia-Lynchburg 12