Three Things to Watch as the Buccaneers travel to Hampton

Three Things to Watch as the Buccaneers travel to Hampton

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern returns to the road this weekend as the Buccaneers make the trek to Hampton, Va. for a contest against Hampton University. Kickoff between the Bucs and the Pirates is set for 2 p.m. on ESPN+. In preparation for the contest, here are three things to watch for in Saturday's game.

All game day information is available on the Game Day Central Page.

CSU Notes | Hampton Notes | Big South Notes

Bucs Chasing First Win
Charleston Southern enters the weekend searching for its first win of 2018 as the Buccaneers head to Hampton University. It marks just the fifth time in program history CSU has gone into September's final weekend without a victory and first since 2011.

The Bucs have been impressive in the opening month over the last five seasons. Their 17-5 mark dating back to 2013 has helped propel CSU to be among the nation's best over the last few years. CSU has utilized their strong opening months to post five consecutive winning seasons, including a pair of Big South Conference championships.

CSU has been limited this season with only two games over the opening month of the year. This comes in part due to a scheduled bye week, as well as September 15's postponed game against The Citadel. The Bucs opened the year facing off against Florida, before taking a three-week hiatus prior to lining up against then-No. 12 Elon.

The Bucs struggled to find the passing game in the opener against Florida and the Gators utilized five first-half touchdown passes on their way to taking the 53-6 win. CSU was unable to hold off a third quarter Elon rally in this past weekend in falling to the nationally-ranked Phoenix, 31-22.

CSU has utilized a strong attack this season accumulating over 200-plus yards rushing in each game. London Johnson boasts the highest average on the team at 95.5 yards per game on the ground to lead the offense following his 14 carry, 119 yard, three touchdown effort against Elon. Johnson is currently second in the Big South in rushing per game on the year and leads a unit that trails only Kennesaw State on the ground this season.

Passing, the Bucs have struggled to connect with CSU sitting 124th in FCS in passing offense on the year. Kameron Brown leads the Bucs' receiving efforts with three catches for 11 yards on the season. The 6-3 wide receiver has been among the nation's receiving leaders in each of the last two seasons and will look to get on track against a pass defense surrendering nearly 250 yards per game through the air.

Defensively, the Bucs have struggled to get a push on the line of scrimmage this season. CSU picked up their first sack of the season this past weekend against Elon when Johnny Robinson brought down the quarterback on the first play of the second quarter. The Bucs have averaged 4.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage per game this season with Robinson's 2.0 leading the way.

The defensive backs have been active on their end to pace the Bucs. Shadarius Hopkins is coming off a career-high 16-tackle performance that earned the senior safety Big South Defensive Player of the Week recognition. Brandon Rowland and James Allen have also been active in the secondary, while Jonathan Slaton sits among the Big South and national leaders with three pass breakups on the season.

CSU will look to get back on track this weekend against a program that is also searching for its first FCS win this season in Hampton University. The Pirates enter the weekend with a 1-2 record posting a win over Shaw (NCAA Division II), while falling to Monmouth and Northern Iowa.

The Pirates' offensive success will be dictated by the play of their senior quarterback Delmon Williams. The Norfolk, Va. native leads Hampton in both rushing (102 yards, one touchdown) and passing (40-of-71, 533 yards, four touchdowns). CSU will need to contain his play-making ability to offset an offense averaging 22.0 points per game on the year.

The Pirates have been led by defensive back Chaka Diarrassouba's 22 tackles on the season, while Kapri Doucet leads the way with 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Kentrelle Groom is also a force to be reckoned with on the line of scrimmage with 3.0 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.

Defensively though, Hampton has struggled to keep opponents out of the end zone. The Pirates have surrendered 36.7 points per game and are coming off a 44-0 loss to Northern Iowa.

In their lone contest against a Big South opponent, Monmouth quarterback Kenji Bahar threw for 326 yards and a trio of touchdowns, while running back Pete Guerriero had 209 yards and three rushing touchdowns in a 56-28 Monmouth win.

CSU will look for similar offensive production in their attempt to get their first win of the year.

First Time Opponents Squaring Off
Charleston Southern's contest against Hampton marks its first against a new opponent this season. The Bucs will also take on Virginia University of Lynchburg on October 13 in the first of three consecutive home games on CSU's schedule.

CSU has had a strong record at Buccaneer Field against first time opponents over each of the last five seasons with a 5-0 mark including last season's victory over Mississippi Valley State. However, the Buccaneers have struggled on the road against first time opponents during the stretch.

Since 2013, CSU has posted a 3-8 record on the road against first-time opponents. Their lone win during the stretch came in 2013 at Appalachian State, 27-24.

Date      Opponent           Result
Sept. 28, 2013    at Appalachian State       W, 27-24
Oct. 19, 2013      at Colorado         L, 43-10
Oct. 11, 2014      at Vanderbilt      L, 21-20
Nov. 1, 2014        at Monmouth    W, 27-0
Sept. 12, 2015    at Troy  L, 44-16
Nov. 7, 2015        at Kennesaw State          W, 28-14
Nov. 21, 2015     at Alabama         L, 56-6
Dec. 11, 2015     at Jacksonville State        L, 58-38 (FCS Quarterfinals)
Aug. 27, 2016     at North Dakota State    L, 24-17 (OT)
Sept. 2, 2017       at Mississippi State          L, 49-0
Oct. 7, 2017         at Indiana            L, 27-0

Six of the 11 road contests have gone against FBS opponents including last season's competition against Mississippi State and Indiana. The Bucs have also competed in contests against Alabama, Colorado, Vanderbilt, and Troy over the stretch.

CSU has had more success against FCS competition during the stretch with a 3-2 record including an impressive 27-24 win over Appalachian State as the Mountaineers transitioned to FBS. The Bucs also recorded road wins against Monmouth and Kennesaw State in each of their first seasons as members of the Big South Conference.

The Bucs will be looking for continued success against first-time FCS opponents this weekend against a Hampton team that has struggled against Big South competition. The Pirates are 2-3 all-time against conference competition with their wins coming against Gardner-Webb in their last matchup in 2005.

Protecting Special Teams
CSU's kicking game has struggled so far in 2018 with the Buccaneers surrendering a blocked PAT and a blocked field goal in the opener against Florida. The Bucs also struggled this past weekend against Elon with a failed two-point conversion attempt and a missed PAT.

Redshirt junior punter Kyle Reighard has been solid in the punting game for the Buccaneers. The Bucs sit 12th overall in the NCAA in net punting at 40.25 yards per game. Reighard is currently averaging 42.9 yards per attempt and put out his first 50-yard punt of the season this past weekend against Elon with a 52-yard attempt in the contest.

Reighard has been a weapon for the Bucs over the last two seasons and led the Big South in punts traveling 50 yards (11) and downed inside the 20 (20).

Tyler Tekac has struggled in 2018 connecting on 4-of-7 attempts on the year. The senior placekicker connected on a season-long 44-yard field goal attempt in the loss against Elon.

The Bucs will need to protect their ace specialists this weekend against a unit that has come after the ball this season. Hampton posted a pair of blocked punts earlier this season in the win against Shaw with Ohmante Jenkins getting a hand on both attempts.

The Pirates will look to put the pressure on the CSU unit in a game that could go down to special teams play.

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