CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern got a gauge for where it stands eight days into fall camp with its first scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon at Buccaneer Field. The Bucs' offense and defense squared off in a 'live-game' environment for the first time and head coach Jamey Chadwell was encouraged by what he saw on both sides of the ball.
"I thought both sides of the ball did some good things today," said Chadwell. "I thought there were some good drives by the offense, Kyle (Copeland) did some good things and our defense is going to be pretty good. We've got to solidify some things offensively. On both sides of the ball we've got some playmakers that can make some plays athletically that we've not had in the past."
Bobby Ruff, Gerald Turner, Markeith Bailey and Brandon Rowland made plays throughout the afternoon defensively for the Bucs. Offensively, Kyle Copeland engineered a pair of scoring drives, while wide receiver Saire Davis and tight end Travay Hatten both displayed good hands on a pair of long receptions.
The scrimmage was an opportunity for a number of Buccaneers to get into the action, showcasing the depth CSU has on the both sides of the ball in 2016.
"It was a part of the plan to let the four-year guys get solid reps early and let them do some stuff," Chadwell said. "We've got to be smart and we know what they can do. With the young guys, we've got to find out who's going to play if someone gets banged up. Our plan was to play our starting guys 20-30 plays, and then let those young guys get as many live reps as we could."
Turner made his presence felt with three sacks. The junior defensive end is back to full health after missing the first half of last season with a torn ACL, and is part of a deep defensive line mix that features Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Anthony Ellis.
Ruff was among CSU's leading tacklers and forced a fumble, accounting for one of five turnovers on the afternoon. Joey Maxberry and Blake Wilson each had fumble recoveries, and Maxberry returned one 32 yards for a touchdown. Rowland and redshirt freshman Darin Smalls each recorded interceptions.
Chadwell believes CSU needs to take better care of the football as the season fast approaches.
"For the most part over the last few years, our formula has been not turning the ball over," Chadwell said. "It's one thing if a guy hits your arm and the ball flies up on them, but we struggled with our ball-handling today. Bottom line, the number one job is to hold on to the ball. That's what our formula has to be, because that's when we've been at our best."
Copeland led the Buccaneers' offense to a pair of scoring drives offensively. The first drive was highlighted by a 57-yard third down connection down the left sideline from Copeland to Davis , leading to a Tyler Tekac 27-yard field goal.
Copeland's second scoring drive was sparked by a pair of tough runs by Darius Hammond and Mike Holloway. Hammond carried the ball up the middle for 15 yards on the first play of the drive and Holloway added a nine-yard run. Four plays later, Copeland found Hatten alone in the middle of the field for a 41 yard touchdown pass to cap the drive.
For Copeland, the live action was a good evaluation of how the team has progressed to date.
"It's always good getting to go live, getting reps full speed with full contact and just seeing where you're at mentally and physically," Copeland said. "I felt like the scrimmage went well. The defense went out and got after us a lot. I think on both sides of the ball we've got a lot of work to do, but we're making good strides."
Junior quarterback Robert Mitchell also led the a Bucs' scoring drive. Mitchell hooked up with Kelan Friase for a 16-yard pass catch and run on a third-and-long, setting up a 41-yard Tekac field goal.
Charleston Southern will spend Wednesday in meetings and the film room before returning to the practice field again on Thursday morning to continue two-a- days. CSU will host its second scrimmage of fall camp on Sunday afternoon.
Chadwell is looking forward to more progress as the Bucs move into week two of fall camp.
"Today's scrimmage was more about what did we put in," Chadwell said. "We'll put one or two snaps of everything we put in on video so we can show the guys what they need to do, and so they can know what they need to do. We'll have the guys come in tomorrow and spend a good amount of time on the film and look at what was good and where we can improve. Then we'll come back on the field Thursday knowing what we can work toward on Sunday."