CHARLESTON, S.C. – There was a fall camp feel to Charleston Southern's practice on Tuesday afternoon. It was the Bucs' first practice in eight days, yet also came eleven days before their next game. The cancellation of the Albany State game due to Hurricane Matthew backed up against an open week, giving CSU plenty of time to rest and get healthy. The challenge for head coach Jamey Chadwell's squad during that gap is to stay sharp and keep some semblance of momentum from back-to-back wins, including a double overtime victory at No. 14 Coastal Carolina.
"The momentum's a big deal, obviously," Chadwell said. "You like to have some time away because you needed some rest and needed to get some guys healthy, which is happening, but you're losing valuable practice time, valuable game time – guys learning how to play – so this week we're gonna be different from what we'd normally be doing."
"We're gonna scrimmage each other in practice this week and probably put more emphasis on each other the whole week where in the past we would have started in on our next opponent," Chadwell continued. "We need to do some things to try to get back to game speed because that will help us be ready what's obviously a really important conference game when we come out of this break."
Presbyterian is CSU's opponent on Oct. 22 as the Bucs kick off a three-game homestand. The Blue Hose are 1-4 and opened Big South play with a 24-3 loss at Gardner-Webb on Saturday. PC plays host to Monmouth on Thursday.
Bucenell hoping to build on big outing against Coastal
CSU quarterback Shane Bucenell earned Big South Freshman of the Week honors after throwing for 149 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the rival Chanticleers.
"It was a big win but every day I've gotta come in and work like I did last week, work on film and continue to get better. I'm making steps."
Bucenell won the back-up quarterback spot in fall camp thanks in part to his attention to detail in mastering CSU's offensive scheme. Chadwell, offensive coordinator Gabe Giardina and quarterbacks coach Mark Tucker can count on Bucenell to take pride in mental preparation.
"He's got a good mentality and he's a worker," Chadwell said. "I guarantee you when he was at home, he went out and threw and did everything he could. If I would have said 'hey, climbe a fence ten times,' he probably would have done that. I don't doubt he put the work in. The hard thing for a young guy is everything they see is their first time seeing it so now, do they recall it? Is he going to have that in the memory bank? That's a challenge for him and Robert."
Mitchell piloted three touchdown drives against Coastal while playing the majority of the second half. He ran for 69 yards and two scores, including what looked to be the game-winner with 42 seconds left in regulation. Both are playing in place of redshirt junior Kyle Copeland, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Kentucky State.
Austell among veteran leaders helping CSU stay focused
Left tackle Erik Austell was part of an offensive line that helped CSU total 473 yards of offense and 42:41 in time of possession last time out. Austell, voted one of four team captains on the first night of fall camp, is also part of a veteran squad intent on keeping their eyes on the prize through an unorthodox season.
"Especially with getting into conference play, we kind of want to be hitting our stride right now," Austell said. "I think we all wish we were playing this Saturday but we'll adapt and get on with it. Our team's pretty good at creating our own momentum so we're confident in that."
Side note – Double OT's been kind to Bucs
Charleston Southern is 3-0 all-time in double overtime games, with all three of the victories coming over rivals. CSU downed Coastal, 34-27, to win a share of its first-ever Big South crown in 2005. The Bucs beat The Citadel, 38-35, the following year during a historic 9-0 start to the campaign.