CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Southern football team engaged in its third and final scrimmage of fall camp on Friday afternoon at Buccaneer Field. Storylines from each of the first two scrimmages featured prominently once again, as the defensive front continued to exert strong pressure while quarterbacks Derek Hatcher and Malcolm Dixon practiced better ball security and displayed a more thorough grasp of the offense.
“I’ve really been pleased with the overall depth we’ve been able to develop throughout fall camp,” said 10th year CSU Head Coach Jay Mills. “That progress is obviously easier to see at positions around the ball like quarterback and kicker, but we have people pushing one another all around the field. We’ve had great competition throughout our football team dating back to spring practice, and that will serve to help us as opening day approaches.”
The Bucs’ final scrimmage consisted of two 12-minute halves, and also included special teams work and an overtime simulation.
Short touchdown runs by juniors Keelyan Bryant and Teddy Allen highlighted the scoring, but CSU also sustained drives and made several big plays through the air. Junior Malcolm Dixon made many excellent throws while continuing to showcase his athleticism, and redshirt junior Derek Hatcher also thrived, enjoying his best scrimmage of the fall. Dixon and Hatcher remain locked in a battle to make the start at The Citadel on September 1, with Hatcher currently at the top of the depth chart.
“We definitely took a positive step forward with our quarterback play today,” said Mills. “There were some inconsistencies present in our first two scrimmages that were erased today. The number one aspect was improved ball security. Derek did not turn the ball over at all and played as well as he has at any time since the spring. Malcolm made one mistake in the passing game, but the hard work he has put in to becoming a complete player and improving in all aspects really shined through.”
The depth of CSU’s receiving corps was showcased as well, even without Preseason All-Big South selection Nathan Perera, who remains questionable for the season opener in eight days. Senior Chase Jones was a primary target during the scrimmage, while freshman Larry Jones III also stood out with his big-play potential.
As in the first two scrimmages, stellar play in the kicking game and defensively were once again present. Tyson Pryor and Mark Deboy both connected on several field goals and booted strong kickoffs, giving the Bucs a pair of options in that department.
First-year defensive coordinator Shawn Quinn’s unit left an impression again, particularly with their ability to wreak havoc in the backfield in both run and pass situations.
“The defense has been outstanding from day one until now,” said Mills. “The consistent pressure they’ve been able to force has been encouraging to see from their perspective, and has helped the offense to mature as a result.’
With a rivalry game at The Citadel set to kick off the 2012 season a week from Saturday, Mills is excited about the progress the Bucs have made during fall camp.
“What I’ve said from day one is where we are now is not where we will be, but we are constantly improving. These young men have given outstanding effort, and the team unity that has been strengthened through competition will have an impact on the season ahead.”
Kickoff against The Citadel at Johnson Hagood Stadium is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, September 1. The Bucs will start off the 2012 home slate a week later, against Jacksonville in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on September 8.