CHARLESTON, S.C. - Homecoming is here for Charleston Southern as the Buccaneers welcome Presbyterian College to Buccaneer Field on Saturday night. Kickoff for Big South matchup is set for 6 p.m. The game will be carried live on ESPN+. In preparation for Saturday's contest, here are three things to watch when the Bucs hit the field against the Blue Hose.
All game day information is available on the Game Day Central page.
CAN ANYONE PASS AGAINST THEM?
Charleston Southern's FCS top-ranked pass defense faces a stiff test this weekend as the Buccaneers welcome the Big South's pass completion percentage leader in Presbyterian quarterback John Walker. The Buccaneers enter the weekend sitting first among all teams in FCS and the Big South leader allowing just 127.4 passing yards per game on the season.
CSU has been successful in limiting the pass since the first two games of the season. The Bucs have allowed just 177 total passing yards and two touchdowns through the air over the last three games after surrendering after giving up seven scores through the air against Florida and Elon.
CSU Pass Defense Last Three Games
Sept. 29 at Hampton – 38 yards, 1 Touchdown, 1 Interception
Oct. 6 at Savannah State – 11 yards, 1 Interception
Oct. 13 vs. Virginia Lynchburg – 128 yards, 1 Touchdown, 1 Interception
Charleston Southern's pass defense was headed toward its third consecutive sub-100 yard pass effort this past weekend against Virginia Lynchburg before the Dragons were able to connect on a late desperation heave. VUL quarterback Chameron Stevenson completed his lone pass of the contest down the right sideline to Johnny Rembert for a 77-yard touchdown pass to snap CSU's defensive streak.
The Bucs defensive backfield play has earned several players conference-wide recognition. Shadarius Hopkins earned Big South Defensive Player of the Week honors following CSU's game against Elon following his career-high 16 tackle performance. Fellow defensive backs Brandon Rowland and James Allen have also been nominated for weekly conference accolades following strong performances against Savannah State and Hampton.
Jonathan Slaton set the tone for the senior-laden crew with a career-high three pass breakups in the season-opener against Florida. James Allen posted back-to-back three pass breakup contests against Hampton and Savannah State. Allen currently leads the Big South and is third in FCS in pass breakups on the season at 1.80 per game.
Slaton, Allen, and Rowland have each recorded an interception over the last three weekends to help aid the Bucs' defensive efforts on the season.
Presbyterian's Walker adds a different dimension to this weekend with the redshirt senior pacing the conference in completion percentage and sitting third in the Big South in passing yards per game (151.8) and touchdowns (6) on the season. Walker has eclipsed a 60.0% completion percentage three times this season, including a 73.1% mark in the team's 10-0 win over Lindsey Wilson.
The Simpsonville, S.C. native is coming off a career-game against Hampton this past weekend against Hampton. In PC's 24-23 loss to the Pirates, Walker finished 22-of-32 through the air for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Walker started the 2016 contest at Buccaneer Field going 14-of-22 for 74 yards and an interception in the 38-3 loss to CSU. Ben Cheek started the contest last season against the Bucs throwing for 128 yards in the 7-0 loss at Bailey Memorial Stadium.
Presbyterian's quarterbacks face the challenge going against the top-ranked pass defense in FCS. CSU's quarterback play will also face a stiff test as the Bucs take on PC's second-ranked pass defense in FCS averaging allowing 146.0 yards per game through the air.
The Blue Hose have held three of their five opponents under 175 passing yards in a game this season including limiting Hampton (105) and Bluefield (106) close to the century mark. Opponents are posting a 52.1% completion percentage and have thrown four touchdown passes this year.
CSU's passing offense has struggled at times in 2018, but the Bucs started to show life in the hands of redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Chambers last weekend against Virginia Lynchburg. Chambers threw for a career-high 155 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard strike to Garris Schwarting in CSU's 58-7 victory.
It was the first time the Buccaneers surpassed the 100-yard passing mark this season after accumulating a total of 190 passing yards over the first four games. The Bucs enter the contest ranked 123rd in FCS in passing offense averaging 71.8 yards per game this season.
Kenny Dinkins has been the major recipient of the targets due to injuries suffered by Kameron Brown and Saire Davis over recent weeks. Dinkins hauled in his first touchdown of the season this past weekend, a 35-yard strike over the middle from Chambers, and leads the Bucs with 10 catches for 143 yards.
Passing is a key to the game and extending the chains. Whichever team is able to move the ball successfully through the air stands a good chance of taking control of the game and sustaining drives.
ESTABLISHING THE RUN EARLY
Charleston Southern's running game eclipsed the 300-yard team rushing mark this past weekend for the first time in 2018. The 300-yard mark has been the gold standard for CSU over the last four seasons with the Buccaneers posting a perfect 9-0 mark when hitting the triple-century mark.
CSU is 4-0 when hitting the mark under Head Coach Mark Tucker, but CSU has been unable to achieve the result in conference play since 2016.
300-Yard Rushing Efforts Under Coach Tucker
Sept. 23, 2017 vs. Point – 320 yards in 66-0 win
Sept. 30, 2017 vs. Mississippi Valley State – 359 yards in 58-7 win
Oct. 21, 2017 vs. Savannah State – 308 yards in 52-27 win
Oct. 13, 2018 vs. Virginia Lynchburg – 334 yards in 58-6 win
The Bucs boast the conference's second-leading rushing attack in 2018 trailing only conference leader Kennesaw State. CSU is averaging 210.6 yards per game on the ground paced by sophomore running back Terrence Wilson's 57.4 yards per game.
CSU has three different players who have posted 100-yard rushing efforts this season including Jack Chambers' 112-yard effort this past weekend against VUL. London Johnson (119 vs. Elon) and Terrence Wilson (103 at Hampton) also have eclipsed the century mark this year.
The Bucs are also coming off their most balanced rushing effort of the season with three players recording at least 70 rushing yards in the game against the Dragons. Chambers (112), Wilson (74), and freshman Kendrick Bell (75).
CSU has won three of its last four contests against the Blue Hose due in part to its running game. The Bucs picked up 159 yards on the ground last season with Noah Shuler's two-yard touchdown proving the difference in CSU's 7-0 win in Clinton. CSU recorded 343 rushing yards two seasons ago at Buccaneer Field in the Bucs' 38-3 win. The 10-7 CSU win in 2015 was highlighted by CSU's 205 rushing yards.
In CSU's last loss in the series, a 7-3 defeat at Buccaneer Field back in 2014, the Blue Hose limited the Bucs to just 3.2 yards per carry and 153 total rushing yards in the loss to the Blue Hose.
Presbyterian has struggled to stop the run this season. All three of their 2018 losses have come in games when the Blue Hose surrendered more than 250 rushing yards to the opposition.
Rushing Yards Allowed in PC Losses
Sept. 8 at Austin Peay – 295 rushing yards (L, 24-0)
Oct. 6 at Kennesaw State – 485 rushing yards (L, 56-0)
Oct. 13 vs. Hampton – 262 rushing yards (L, 24-23)
The Blue Hose are ranked 113th in FCS and fifth in the Big South in run defense this season at 258.4 yards per game. The Bucs' ability to get the run game going on Saturday could be key to CSU extending their winning streak to four in a row over PC.
TEKAC PURSUING CAREER RECORDS
Senior placekicker Tyler Tekac will be one to watch over the final six games of the regular season as the Goose Creek, S.C. native looks to continue to climb up the CSU and Big South career scoring lists. Tekac is coming off a career-high 16 points this past weekend against Virginia Lynchburg and is tied for the conference lead with five field goals on the season.
Tekac's three first-half field goals against Virginia Lynchburg were a career-high for the local Stratford High School graduate. His 46-yard conversion in the second quarter was also the longest field goal in the Big South Conference in the 2018 season.
Tekac's 16 points in the contest were the most by a kicker in a single game in program history. It also tied for third all-time in Big South history for a kicker in a single game.
He enters the contest with 181 career points scored sitting third all-time in CSU's scoring category. He is seven points away from Mike Holloway for second all-time in program history, and 17 points away from surpassing Gardner-Webb's Ryan Gates (198, 2008-10) for 10th most by a kicker in conference history.
Tekac's 46-yard conversion against VUL also moved him into a tie for 10th all-time in Big South history in most career 40-plus yard field goals. It was his eighth such make over his career tying him with Coastal Carolina's Josh Hoke (2003-06).
The kicking game is always relevant, no more so than this weekend as the Buccaneers take on an opponent who has battled the Bucs to a one-possession game in three of the last four seasons. After starting the season slowly, Tekac has converted his last 12 attempts (four FGs, 12 PATs) and has proven to be a viable weapon for the CSU offense.