CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern got a gauge for where it stands midway through fall camp as the Buccaneers took to the game field for the first time on Saturday morning. Facing off in a 'live-game' environment for the first time on one of the hottest mornings of camp, Head Coach Mark Tucker saw positives from both sides of the ball.
"I thought both sides of the ball did some good things today," Tucker said. "We're learning how to compete up front offensively against a very good defense. We have a very sound proving ground in who we can line up with our first group and we have good depth too. We feel if we can line up with our guys defensively, we can hold our own against the people we have to play in our league."
The CSU defense lived up to its billing on Saturday morning with the Blue Swarm finishing the afternoon with 10 sacks, three turnovers, and nine three-and-outs.
Junior defensive lineman Johnny Robinson paced the Bucs with a pair of sacks to lead nine different players to reach the quarterback on the day. Linebackers J.D. Sosebee and Landon Sayegh both recorded interceptions, while the Bucs' defense also added a fumble recovery during the scrimmage.
Bobby Ruff added a key play on special teams with a field goal block to stop the offense's second drive of the morning.
"We wanted to put all of them (quarterbacks) in situations where they had to handle all of the checks," Tucker commented. "We're putting more responsibility on the quarterbacks so they can speed up play. We're on schedule with them as far as building their confidence and the unit will continue to speed up and move faster as their confidence grows. We still have work to do to get them where I'd like us to be."
Mitchell, Bucenell, Chambers, and running back Noah Shuler all recorded 20-plus yard runs throughout the scrimmage. Mitchell went 35 yards for a touchdown on an option keeper to close out the third drive of the afternoon, while Chambers' 23-yard carry set up a 32-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Kaelin Braswell just before halftime. Jacob Smoak added a 23-yard field goal to cap the offensive output for the day.
Both Shuler and Ronnie Harris had key first down pickups throughout the scrimmage, while the duo and Chanin Hamilton all showed good hands in the Bucs' passing game out of the backfield. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Garris Schwarting was also active in the passing game with a number of catches to keep CSU drives alive throughout the morning.
The Saturday morning scrimmage was fairly clean throughout the morning with the officials on hand rarely stopping play for penalties as all parties worked through teaching moments in the scrimmage.
The Bucs continue to progress toward Thursday's second scrimmage of the preseason as the coaching staff continues to hone in on the starting lineup and depth chart for CSU's season opener at Mississippi State.
"We're going to have to start reducing reps soon and we've got to make some decisions on who we're going with in terms of a two-deep and the guys who will be in the mix and rotations," Tucker said. "We'll sit down and talk over the next few days and go over some things. We're in a good place."
CSU takes their NCAA-mandated day off tomorrow before returning to the practice field on Monday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. The Bucs will hold their second scrimmage on Thursday, August 17 starting at 9:30 a.m., before breaking camp for Media Day on Friday, August 18.