Charleston Southern vs. Gardner-Webb Televised On Fox SportSouthOctober 25, 2007
By CSU Sports Information
The Buccaneers hit the road for a televised Big South match-up against the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs Saturday evening at Spangler Stadium in Boiling Springs, NC. The game will air on SportSouth TV beginning at 6:30 pm. CSU (3-4, 0-1 Big South), which dropped its conference opener to preseason Big South favorite Liberty last week, will be looking to defeat the Bulldogs for the third straight season.
Gardner-Webb (3-4, 1-0 Big South) opened its Big South campaign with a come-from-behind 36-22 victory at VMI last week. CSU returns to Spangler Stadium for the first time since its 38-7 victory in 2005, a game which still represents the program’s only Big South road win. The Bucs need victories in three of their final four contests to secure a third consecutive winning season.
CSU vs. Gardner-Webb Game Notes
CSU and Gardner-Webb are meeting for the sixth straight season, all since the inception of Big South football in 2002. Including a meeting between the teams in 1992, the Runnin’ Bulldogs lead the all-time series 4-wins-to-2. The Bucs lost the first four meetings between the schools by a combined score of 177-15, but then won in Boiling Springs 38-7 in 2005 and again in North Charleston 28-14 last season (a combined score of 66-21). Three of GWU’s wins against the CSU have been shutouts (56-0 in ‘92, 46-0 in ‘03 and 18-0 in ‘04). Since the arrival of Head Coach Jay Mills in 2003, CSU has a 2-2 record against the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
FANNING THE FLAMES
After a tight first quarter, the Liberty Flames scored the game’s final 40 points and routed the Buccaneers 50-10 in the Big South opener for each team last Saturday at CSU Stadium. Liberty’s offense piled up 491 total yards including 283 on the ground, while the Flames defense forced five CSU turnovers (four interceptions) that led to four Liberty touchdowns.
Liberty’s running back tandem of Rashad Jennings and Zach Terrell controlled the ball for the visitors, with Jennings accounting for 211 total yards (131 on the ground) and two TDs while Terrell picked up 72 yards and two scores. Ten of the Flames’ 12 offensive drives in the game reached the CSU redzone, nine of which resulted in points scored.
Even though CSU lost its opening Big South contest, recent history shows that the Bucs still have an opportunity to compete for the conference title. In 2005, Coach Mills’ squad lost its Big South opener at VMI 34-12, but rebounded to win its final three conference games (at Gardner-Webb 38-7, vs. Liberty 31-30, vs. Coastal Carolina 34-27). The season-ending winning streak gave CSU its first Big South championship in program history.
SECOND HALF STRUGGLES
Through seven games this season, CSU has been outscored in the second half 132-69 by its opponents, including 64-38 in the fourth quarter. During the Bucs’ four losses, opponents have outscored CSU by a whopping 106-10 after halftime (including 58-0 in the fourth quarter.) In CSU’s three victories, the Bucs are outscoring opponents 59-26 in the second half (and 38-6 in the final period.)
THE DEFENSE RESTS
Aside from a commanding performance against Savannah State on Oct. 6, CSU’s defense has struggled this season. The Bucs are currently allowing an average of 37 points per game (107th in the nation out of 116 FCS teams) and 387 total yards per game (80th/116) through the first seven contests.
Against Savannah State, the Bucs D permitted a total of 66 yards and no points while holding the Tigers to five first downs. That is the only game, however, that CSU has held its opponent to fewer than three touchdowns scored. In their four losses, the Buccaneers are allowing an average of 51 ppg (203 total points) and 467 ypg (1,867 total yards.)
WHO’S THE ROSS?
Redshirt senior linebacker Jada Ross is currently 7th in the nation in tackles per game (11.9/gm). Ross, who became the Big South’s all-time leading tackler at Hawai’i on Sept. 22, surpassed 400 career stops last Saturday against Liberty. He now has 406 career tackles, 42 more than former Coastal Carolina Chanticleer LB Jamar Leath (364 from ‘03-’06).
The Summerville, SC native was named a preseason all-conference selection and a TSN second-team preseason all-American before the start of the campaign. Ross has led the Bucs in tackles in six of the team’s seven games this season (16 at The Citadel, 11 at Wofford, 10 at Hawai’i, 9 at North Greenville, 13 vs. Savannah St., 17 vs. Liberty).
BYRD IN FLIGHT
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Eli Byrd has started the first seven contests behind center for the Bucs in 2007, making him CSU’s first starting QB other than Collin Drafts since the beginning of the 2003 season. Byrd, currently leading the Big South and ranking 35th in the nation in total offense (226 yards/gm), has completed 117-of-208 passes this season for 1,346 yards and 10 TDs (also 10 INTs). He is also second on the Bucs with 233 rushing yards.
Byrd had played QB only one game in his career entering the season, taking over for an injured Drafts in the second half of a loss at Liberty on Nov. 11, 2006. The former football and basketball standout at Fletcher High School in Jacksonville, Florida saw time as a wide receiver in two games last season, totaling two catches for 13 yards and also a two-point conversion.
Redshirt junior Sidney Bryant serves as Byrd’s back-up at quarterback. Bryant, who backed up Drafts for each of the last two seasons, has appeared in 16 games during his three-year career (including 5 this season) but has not made a start.
The Tampa, Florida native had totaled only 30 career pass attempts in his first 14 games played before throwing a combined 39 passes the last two weeks in relief of the injured Byrd against Savannah State and Liberty. The Tampa, Florida native took snaps in four games last season and completed 6-of-10 passes for a total of 67 yards and a touchdown.
Transfer WR Dee Brown has quickly become Eli Byrd’s favorite target this season. Brown, who has five TD receptions in the last four games, leads the Big South with 43 catches and with 540 receiving yards this season. CSU has had a WR lead the conference in receptions every year in Big South football history (five total seasons, since 2002).
The junior’s 13 receptions at Wofford on Sept. 8 tied a school record for most catches in a game, also held by Maurice Price and the late Eddie Gadson. Brown’s 13 grabs, only one shy of matching a Big South single-game record, came in only his second game played with the Bucs after transferring from Garden City CC in Kansas.
Playing extensively in the CSU backfield as a true freshman, running back DeMarcus Moon has established himself as the team’s leading rusher through seven games. The McDonough, Georgia native has totaled a team-best 240 yards on 45 carries this season while averaging a stellar 5.3 yards per attempt. In the team’s Oct. 6th game against Savannah State, Moon topped the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career, carrying 16 times for 103 yards in the contest.
CLOSER TO FINE
CSU has been hard hit by the injury bug this season, but the Bucs are about as close to full strength heading to Gardner-Webb as they’ve been since the season opener.
Quarterback Eli Byrd suffered a bruised right shoulder against Savannah State Oct. 6 and has missed large portions of the last two games, but he is expected to start against GWU. Sophomore RB Michael Jefferson, who has only two carries since his breakout 104-yard effort against Johnson C. Smith Sept. 15 and has missed three straight games, remains questionable for GWU because of an ankle injury.
Senior running back Kenny Harper, who played sparingly in three games this year, suffered a season-ending injury at North Greenville Sept. 29. On the offensive line, projected starters entering the season Zach Mitchell, J.W. Myers and Jordan Lancaster are all out for the year.
On the defensive side, CSU returned one of its top linebackers when redshirt senior Jonna Lee suited up for the first time this season against Liberty last week and made seven tackles. Lee, second on the Bucs with 80 tackles last year, missed the first six games in 2007. Senior safety C.J. Hirschman has played sparingly the last two games with an ankle injury and is questionable for this week, as is senior DB and long snapper Darius Jackson who has also been hampered for two straight contests. Senior LB Josh Mitchell, fourth on the team in tackles in 2006, will miss the entire 2007 season.
HOLD ONTO THAT BALL!
CSU’s offense has been hurt by the turnover bug this season, with the team currently averaging 3.4 TO’s per contest. The Bucs have turned the ball over at least twice in every game, and at least three times in the last four outings.
Of the team’s Big South-leading 24 turnovers, 17 have been on interceptions. QB Eli Byrd leads the conference with 10 interceptions thrown, while back-up Sidney Bryant has tossed five picks in limited action. No other Big South squad has committed more than 15 turnovers this season. CSU is currently 95th out of 116 FCS teams in turnover margin (-1.00/gm).
Redshirt senior Kenny Harper, the leading returning ball carrier for CSU this season, played sparingly in ‘07 because of injury and will miss the remainder of the campaign. Harper, who rushed 100 times for 417 yards and five TDs in 2006, had only three carries for 20 yards this season.
True freshman DeMarcus Moon (45 rush, 240 yds) heads a committee of running backs besides Harper to see action for the Bucs thus far this season. Moon has been joined in the backfield by redshirt junior Alexius Ferguson (53 rush, 163 yds), transfer Michael Jefferson (23 rush, 110 yds) and redshirt sophomore Reggie Ellington (12 rush, 37 yds). CSU is only 97th out of 116 FCS teams in rushing yardage this season (116 rush ypg).
NICK THE KICK
With 46 points this season, redshirt senior PK Nick Ellis now has 198 career points and needs only two more to become the fifth player in Big South history with 200 career points. Also with 117 career extra points made, Ellis also needs just one more PAT to move into second place in the Big South annals, but is still 61 away from passing Coastal Carolina’s Josh Hoke for the top spot in conference history (177). The Stockbridge, GA native is 28-30 on kicks this season (9-11 FGs and 19-19 PATs).
THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Redshirt junior DB Josh Warrior, only two years removed from a serious back injury that forced him to miss the entire 2005 season, has turned himself into one of the top secondary players in the Big South. The Orange Park, Florida native is second on the Bucs with 50 tackles this season (7.1/gm.) A big playmaker for the CSU defense, Warrior leads the team with 5.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2007.
The Bucs have not played a close game this season, as the team’s closest contest was a 13-point margin at N. Greenville Sept. 29th. CSU’s three victories have come by an average of 22 points (65 total pts.) while the squad’s four losses are by an average of 36 points (145 total pts.)
TRY TO KEEP ‘EM CLOSE
The Bucs have had remarkable success in close games (games decided by eight points or fewer) since Jay Mills took over as head coach in 2003. CSU is 10-3 in such games under Mills, including 3-1 in close Big South contests. In games decided by more than eight points under Mills, the Buccaneers are only 15-23 overall including 2-11 in conference match-ups.
LONG ROAD TO HOE
As is usually the case in college football, CSU has found the going difficult when it plays away from home. In now six seasons of Big South football, the Bucs have only one conference road victory, at Gardner-Webb on Nov. 5, 2005. CSU is 1-8 all-time in Big South road contests (and 5-6 at home.)
With its victory at North Greenville on Sept. 29, CSU snapped a five-game road losing streak that dated back to 11.11.06 at Liberty. CSU is only 7-17 in road games under Jay Mills, while the squad is 18-9 at home during Mills’ five-year tenure. The Bucs have only two road contests remaining this season (this week at Gardner-Webb and next week at VMI).
All three of this season’s road losses have come against teams currently ranked in the polls. CSU began the campaign with games against Southern Conferences foes The Citadel and Wofford (The Citadel is ranked #25 in TSN’s FCS Poll while Wofford is ranked #11), and later traveled to play Hawaii, an FBS opponent currently ranked #16 by the A.P.
HITTING SOME MILESTONES
-Sophomore QB Eli Byrd established new single-game Big South records for completions (34) and pass attempts (54) Sept. 29 at North Greenville. Byrd also totaled 398 passing yards in the contest, the third-most in a single game in conference history. In only his second season, Eli has already tied for eighth in Big South history with 11 career TD passes.
-Junior WR Markus Murry returned from injury Sept. 29 at North Greenville and caught six passes for 88 yards to become the 15th player in Big South history with 1,000 career receiving yards. Murry (1,089 career yards) is the fourth Buc to accomplish that feat, tying CSU with Gardner-Webb for the most players on the 1,000 yards receiving list in Big South history.
CSU had its 12-game home winning streak snapped with its loss to Liberty last week. The streak, which began Oct. 15, 2005 against West Virginia Wesleyan, was the third-longest in the nation at the time it ended and matched the longest home run in Big South history. Coastal Carolina also won 12 consecutive home games from 9.11.04 through 11.12.05.
Redshirt junior running back Alexius Ferguson has established himself as one of CSU’s primary ball-handlers in 2007 after serving as a back-up the previous two years. Ferguson had 43 total carries over three seasons before getting 22 rushes for 92 yards and a TD at North Greenville Sept. 29. He also recovered a fumble for the go-ahead score late in that contest. Ferguson is second on the Bucs in all-purpose yards (503), first in return yards (270) and third on the team in rushing yards (163) .
MOVIN’ ON UP!
Redshirt sophomore running back Michael Jefferson has made an immediate impact in his first season after transferring to CSU from Carson-Newman College. In only his third collegiate game, Jefferson rushed for 104 yards and three TDs on 15 carries against Johnson C. Smith on Sept. 15. The former Wando High School standout (in nearby Mt. Pleasant, S.C.), who was that school’s Homecoming King in 2004, redshirted at Carson-Newman in 2005 but never played a down. He has been limited by an ankle injury to only two carries in the team’s four games since the J.C. Smith contest.
VS. FBS OPPONENTS
After losing at Hawai’i Sept. 22, CSU has played four games against FBS competition (Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A) in program history. Below is a list of CSU’s games against FBS opponents.
Date Opponent Conference Result
Nov. 21, 1996 @UAB Independent L 49-13
Nov. 2, 2002 @South Florida Independent L 56-6
Oct. 18, 2003 @South Florida Conf. USA L 55-7
Sept. 22, 2007 @#19 Hawai’i WAC L 66-10
VS. NON D-I OPPONENTS
Including wins this season against Johnson C. Smith and North Greenville, the Bucs have won eight straight games against non-Division I opponents dating back to the 2005 season (seven against Division II schools and one against NAIA opposition). The team’s last loss to a non-Div. I opponent came on 9.10.05 at home to Division II Presbyterian. CSU is 12-6 under Jay Mills against non-Div. I opposition (and 13-19 against D-I schools).
SCOUTING THE RUNNIN’ BULLDOGS
Gardner-Webb enters Saturday’s contest at 4-3 (1-0 in Big South games) following a 36-22 victory at VMI last Saturday in the conference opener. The Keydets led 22-21 with just over five minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs scored the game’s final 15 points on two TDs in a span of 2:15 to earn the come-from-behind victory on the road.
The Bulldogs, picked third in the preseason Big South poll, are 2-0 at home this season but 1-4 on the road. The Flames two home victories came against Jacksonville (FCS, Pioneer League) and Austin Peay (FCS, Ohio Valley Conf.) The team’s road losses came against FBS opponents Ohio and Mississippi State in addition to nationally-ranked FCS squads Appalachian State and Wofford.
Gardner-Webb’s offensive is led by dynamic wide receiver Duvaughn Flagler, who has a conference-high-matching 43 receptions this season including six TDs in seven games. Running back David Montgomery has rushed for 485 yards this season and averages 6.8 yds/carry. The Bulldogs use two quarterbacks, Stan Doolittle and Devin Campbell, with each having played in every game this season and each having thrown over 100 attempts.
Head coach Steve Patton is in his 11th season at the helm for Gardner-Webb, and has a career record of 70-46 at the school. Patton won his 100th career game at VMI last week, including time as the head man at North Greenville University in the 1990s.
Because of solid performances against Savannah State Oct. 6th, the Big South named senior DB Josh Warrior the conference’s defensive player of the week and senior K Nick Ellis the Big South special teams player of the week. Warrior recorded three tackles for loss (including a tackle of the opposing punter for the second straight game) and his third interception of the season in the shutout win. Ellis kicked a career-high four FGs during the victory, matching a conference record for the most FG made in a game.
After CSU’s Sept. 15th victory against Johnson C. Smith, sophomore DB Philip Ashley was named the Big South defensive player of the week while freshman RB DeMarcus Moon earned conference freshman of the week honors. Ashley returned a blocked field goal 68 yards for a TD against the Golden Bulls (the first blocked FG TD for CSU since 10.18.98), while Moon rushed for 74 yards and a TD on seven fourth-qaurter carries.
DRAFTS DAY NO MORE
Four-year starting quarterback Collin Drafts, no longer the signal caller for the Bucs, has returned to the CSU program as an assistant coach working with the QBs. Drafts, a three-time All-Conference selection and the school’s all-time leader in passing and total offense, recently finished his first professional season as a back up for the Tri-Cities (Wa.) Fever of the Arena Football 2 League. The Beaufort, SC native started the final two games of the 2007 season behind center for the Fever, including a playoff contest, because of an injury to the starting signal caller. In two impressive starts, Drafts combined to complete 40-of-71 pass attempts for 488 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Maurice Price, CSU’s all-time leading receiver and an AP and TSN All-American in 2006, decided to leave the Bucs prior to his senior season and turn professional. Though going undrafted, Price signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs and was having a strong training camp before injuring his shoulder in mid-August. The Chiefs placed the Orlando, Florida native on injured reserve, meaning he will miss the entire 2007 season. Price caught 202 passes in three seasons with the Bucs, totaling 2,429 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Bucs placed six players on the Big South’s Preseason All-Conference Team, led by four members of coach Darrell Perkins’ defense. Seniors Dennis Justiniani, Jada Ross and C.J. Hirschman in addition to redshirt junior Okeba Rollinson were all selected to the list that was voted on by coaches, media members and sports information directors. Senior center Rick Howell, the leader of the Bucs offensive line, was the lone member of the CSU offense selected to the team, while senior kicker Nick Ellis was voted as the place kicker for the All-Conference unit.
RUN OF THE MILLS
Head Coach Jay Mills is in his fifth season as the head coach at CSU and currently holds a career record of 25-26. Under his leadership, the Bucs program has improved every season - going from one win in 2003 to five in 2004, then to seven victories and a Big South championship in 2005. Last season, CSU opened the campaign 9-0 before losses at Liberty and at Coastal Carolina left the team with a 9-2 mark, the best in school history.
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
In addition to winning a school-record nine games in 2006, the Bucs established many school firsts last season. CSU football compiled a 14-game overall winning streak dating back to the final five games of the ‘05 campaign, the longest overall winning streak in Big South history and second longest in the nation last season (the University of San Diego had an 18-game streak). With nine victories, CSU broke the school record for wins in a season for a second consecutive year, besting the seven-win total for 2005.