CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Buccaneers will look to make it two in a row this weekend as Charleston Southern hosts Mississippi Valley State under the lights at Buccaneer Field on Saturday night. Kickoff for the game between the Bucs and the Delta Devils is set for 6 p.m. ET on the Big South Network.
Gates and the ticket offices open at 4:30 p.m. CSU implemented a Clear Bag Policy this year with details found HERE. Saturday's game day sponsor is Willie Jewell's Old School Bar-B-Q.
BUCS AGAINST THE SWAC
Charleston Southern is taking on the Southwestern Athletic Conference for the first time in program history this weekend as the Buccaneers host Mississippi Valley State on Saturday evening. The Delta Devils are also the second first-time opponent the Bucs will play this season. CSU opened the season against another first-timer in Mississippi State on September 2.
Charleston Southern has boasted an impressive winning percentage over the last five years with the Bucs winning 20 of 23 contests in front of the home crowd at Buccaneer Field. CSU saw its 10 game winning streak snapped last season against Gardner-Webb, but bounced back to win the season finale against Kennesaw State. The Bucs enter the weekend having won 12 of their last 13 contests at home.
The Buccaneers have also won 14 consecutive non-conference home games dating back to 2012 home opener against Jacksonville. During the span, CSU has topped non-FCS and non-FBS opponents eight times with the latest coming in a 66-0 win over Point on September 23, 2017.
DEFENDING THE PASS
Traditionally ranked among the FCS' best against the pass, Charleston Southern is back among the national leaders this season as the Buccaneers sit eighth overall in passing yards allowed following the first three games. CSU has allowed opponents an average of 152.0 yards per game in 2017 with only Mississippi State breaking the 150 mark in the season opener (274).
Since CSU's opener against the Bulldogs, the Buccaneers have buckled down and given up only 145 passing yards against Elon, and then followed up by allowing 37 yards this past weekend against Point. Opponents are only completing 47.6% of their passing attempts (30-of-63) against the Buccaneers defense in 2017.
CSU will face another pass-heavy offense this weekend as Mississippi Valley State averages 205.5 yards through the air in 2017. The Delta Devils have relied heavily on their passing game with the rushing offense struggling on the year.
LOOKING TO MAKE IT TWO IN A ROW
Charleston Southern looks to make it two in a row this weekend as the Buccaneers take on their first-ever Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent. The Bucs are coming off a 66-0 win over Point University in their 2017 home opener.
NON-CONFERENCE WINNING STREAK
The Bucs have won 14 consecutive non-conference home games dating back to the middle of the 2012 season. CSU has topped six FCS opponents at home during the span including wins over The Citadel (twice), ETSU, Charlotte, Campbell, and Bucknell.
SURGING OFFENSE VS STRUGGLING D
CSU ecliped the 600-yard mark in total offense for just the fifth time in program history this past weekend against Point. The CSU quarterbacks combined to throw for 300 yards, while 12 rushers accumulated 320 yards on the ground in the win over the Skyhawks. The Bucs will look to continue their balanced attack this weekend against Mississippi Valley State as the Delta Devils enter the contest averaging allowing 502.3 yards per game.
Mississippi Valley State was selected fifth in their division and received the 10th most votes in the Southwestern Conference Preseason Poll. Defensive back Everett Nicholas was named to the preseason All-Conference First Team, while offensive lineman Alvin Solomon was a Second Team selection.
The Delta Devils have played one of the toughest schedules in FCS to date as Mississippi Valley State fell on the road to No. 2 North Dakota State, RV Southern Illinois, and No. 22 Grambling State over the first three weekends. The Delta Devils struggled in the opener in Fargo, falling to the Bison 72-7. MVSU followed up with a 55-3 loss on the road against Southern Illinois, before dropping their SWAC opener this past weekend at home against Grambling State.
The Delta Devils have struggled as of late with just six wins over the last five seasons. MVSU went 2-9 in 2013 and 2014, and then 1-10 in each of the last two seasons. The Delta Devils' best season in recent history came in 2012 when MVSU went 5-6 with wins over Grambling State, Alcorn State, Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern, and Southern University.
Mississippi Valley State holds the rare distinction of holding the worst rushing offense and worst rushing defense in the FCS in 2017. The Delta Devils are averaging -19.5 yards rushing per game, while the defense is giving up 391.5 yards rushing defensively.
Seventeen different players have toted the ball for MVSU in the 2017 season, but only seven players have positive yards led by defensive back's Farrean Toney's 21 yards rushing on two carries. O'Brian Anderson is second on the team with eight rushing yards. Quarterback Dewayne Betts has a team-high 16 carries on the year.
Quarterback Christopher Fowler has been active in 2017 spotting 14 different targets on the season. Wide receiver Quinn McElfresh (16) and Darrion Harber (14) have been the favorite receivers on the road this season with the duo combining for 453 of the team's 799 receiving yards on the year.
Linebacker Patrick Harbin has been among the NCAA's best in tackles this season. Harbin is eighth in the FCS this season with 36 tackles on the year and leads MVSU with three tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
RUMBLING THROUGH THE DEFENSE
Senior running back Noah Shuler found the end zone for the second consecutive game on Saturday evening as the Goose Creek, S.C. native set the tone against the Skyhawks with a one-yard touchdown to cap the Bucs' first possession. Shuler leads the Bucs with three rushing touchdowns on the season and currently sits among the conference leaders in points scored with 18 on the year. Shuler paces CSU's rushing efforts on the year and has carried the ball 25 times for 148 yards (5.9 ypc) against Elon and Point.
100 YARDS THROUGH THE AIR
Redshirt sophomore Kameron Brown and quarterback Shane Bucenell had the connection through the air on Saturday against Point. The Beech Island, S.C. native hauled in a career-high six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs' win against the Skyhawks. Brown's big day made him just the second player on the current roster to have a 100-yard receiving effort in a game joining redshirt senior Kenny Dinkins who achieved the mark in 2015 against Liberty (114 yards). Brown finished the 2016 season among the national leaders in yards per reception last season and is currently averaging 17.0 this season.
CAREER DAY FOR BUCENELL
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Shane Bucenell shook off the early season struggles to post a career passing day against Point. Bucenell went 14-of-17 through the air for 273 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Bucs in the win against the Skyhawks. Bucenell's first touchdown came on a 52-yard pass to Kameron Brown over the middle. He added two more touchdowns on passes to Kenny Dinkins, connecting with his senior receiver from 44 yards and 22 yards out to finish the day with the fourth multi-touchdown effort of his career. Bucenell's 273 yards eclipsed his previous high of 172 set last season against Bucknell.
London Johnson continues to make his impact felt in limited time this season as the redshirt sophomore quarterback sits second overall on the team in rushing through the first three games of the season. Johnson broke free for a season-long 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help ice the game and finished the contest with three carries for 64 yards (21.3 ypc). Johnson currently is averaging 7.7 yards per carry and 38.7 yards per game on the ground to help provide another dimension for the CSU offense in 2017.
DINKINS BACK IN THE END ZONE
Redshirt senior wide receiver Kenny Dinkins showcased his athleticism in a big way this past Saturday hauling in two passes for 66 yards. Both connections from Bucenell to Dinkins found pay dirt as Dinkins went over the middle for 44 yards in the first half, and then caught a fade in the back left corner of the end zone in the third quarter for the receiver's second career two-touchdown game. Dinkins' last two-touchdown game came in a career contest against Liberty as the Lawtey, Fla. native hauled in six passes for 114 yards and a pair of scores in CSU's win over the Flames. He's the only receiver on roster to have multiple touchdown games.
Charleston Southern's defense pitched a shutout for the first time since the 2015 season this past weekend as the Buccaneers held Point scoreless in the 66-0 win. The Bucs last shutout came on the road at Gardner-Webb during the 2015 season when CSU held the Runnin' Bulldogs scoreless on October 24 in the 34-0 win. CSU's last home shutout came in the 2009 season when the Bucs held North Greenville off the scoreboard in the Bucs' 34-0 win over the Crusaders. In CSU's shutout against the Crusaders, the Bucs held NGU to 90 yards total offense. This past Saturday, the Bucs also held the opposition under 100 by limiting Point to 98 yards in the CSU win.
Senior defensive end Anthony Ellis found his way back into the spotlight this past Saturday as the Apopka, Fla. native led the Bucs with 2.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss against the Skyhawks. Ellis, a preseason Buck Buchanan Watch List selection and the Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, immediately made his impact on the game on the Bucs' first defensive possession. Ellis continued his pursuit of the Point quarterback after he was flushed out the pocket, coming up from behind and laying a jarring hit that caused a fumble and led to the Bucs' second touchdown of the game. Ellis teamed up with Noah Oliver for a sack late in the second quarter, and then brought the quarterback down again in the third to pace the Bucs.
SOSEBEE GOES ALL THE WAY
Redshirt sophomore linebacker J.D. Sosebee continues to make his presence felt on the defense this season as the Gainesville, Ga. native picked up a fumble and ran it back 60 yards for a touchdown this past Saturday. Known for his high energy and motor on the field, Sosebee was in the right position to scoop up the loose ball and take it to the house in front of the cheering Buccaneer faithful. Sosebee also led the Bucs with five tackles in the contest and currently sits second on the team with 21 tackles for the year.
LOOKING FOR SECOND SHUTOUT
Charleston Southern will look to go for their second home shutout of the season this weekend as the Buccaneers host Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils have struggled on offense this season, but have put up points against each of their opponents including seven against North Dakota State, three against Southern Illinois, and six this past weekend against Grambling State. It's been 16 years since the Bucs have posted multiple shutouts at Buccaneer Field in the same season. CSU last did it in 2001 when the Bucs opened the season with a 38-0 win against North Greenville. The Bucs closed out the schedule at home with a 49-0 win over West Virginia State that season on Senior Day.
UP FRONT AND LOOKING FOR TROUBLE
The Charleston Southern front seven will look to continue the trend of success the opposition has had against the Mississippi Valley State rushing offense. MVSU is averaging -39.3 yards per game on the ground in 2017 with defensive back Farrean Toney leading the offense with 21 yards rushing on the season. CSU's run defense is allowing an average of 189.3 yards per game on the ground and will look to bounce back after a tough opening stretch to return to dominant form. Noah Oliver was active in the trenches this past weekend with five tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. The junior defensive lineman will be looked on to anchor the Bucs' middle against the Delta Devils.
DEFENDING THE HOUSE THAT RICE BUILT
Famous alum and NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice made his mark on the collegiate level at Mississippi Valley State and the Delta Devils continue to throw the ball in the 2017 season. MVSU has dropped back 126 times (42 per game) over the first three games of the season with quarterback Christopher Fowler converting 67.1% of his attempts for 591 yards. Fourteen different receivers have caught passes this season led by Quinn McElfresh's 16 catches for 267 yards. The Bucs' secondary will have their work cut out for them this weekend with the Big South's leading tackler in Demetri Royer, as well as fellow safety Brandon Rowland patrolling deep against the Delta Devils' offense.
Tyler Tekac is in sole possession of first place in the most PATs made consecutively in the CSU record books following Saturday's 7-for-7 performance against Point. Tekac has successfully converted 37 straight extra points dating back to last season's 59-58 win on the road against Coastal Carolina. The Goose Creek, S.C. native converted six of his seven attempts in the Bucs' win against the Chanticleers with the lone miss coming just before halftime. Since then, he has been spotless over the last nine games, tying his career high with seven conversions this past weekend against the Skyhawks.