CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern hits the road in Big South competition this weekend as the Buccaneers make their longest road trip of the season up to West Long Branch, N.J. and Monmouth University. Kickoff on ESPN3 is set for 1 p.m. CSU will also carry an online audio broadcast on the Charleston Southern Sports Network.
All game day information is available on the Game Day Central page.
Keeping The Streak Alive
Charleston Southern is 2-0 all-time at Kessler Stadium since Monmouth joined the Big South Conference in the 2014 season. The Bucs posted 27-0 (2014) and 35-7 (2016) wins over their last two visits to West Long Branch, N.J. and will look to keep the success going against the host Hawks.
Battle Between Bests
It's a battle between the bests on Saturday afternoon at Kessler Stadium. Monmouth (248.6 ypg) boasts the no. 1 passing attack in the Big South this season behind leading receiver Reggie White Jr. (102.8 ypg). CSU's pass defense has held the opposition under 100 passing yards three times this season and leads FCS at 131.0 yards per game on the season.
Big South Standings
CSU (1-1) and Monmouth (2-0) both trail Kennesaw State (3-0) in the conference standings with three weeks to play in Big South competition. Monmouth still has their contests against the Owls and the Runnin' Bulldogs on the schedule, while CSU hosts Gardner-Webb and travels to Campbell.
Monmouth has quietly established itself as a power in the Big South Conference over the last three seasons and once again is among the conference leaders heading into the heart of Big South play. The Hawks are undefeated in conference play for the second consecutive season heading into their matchup with the Buccaneers boasting wins over Campbell and Presbyterian.
Monmouth earned the program's first-ever playoff berth as an at-large entrant last season. Buoyed by 18 returning starters, including 10 on offense, the Hawks were picked second in the Big South's preseason poll.
Monmouth has held each of its last four opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, tied for the second-longest streak in Big South history. The last team with this distinction was Stony Brook in 2011, while the record is six games, set by Gardner-Webb during the 2008 season. The Hawks have held six total foes under 100 rushing yards this year, and its rushing defense of 103.0 is currently the league's third-lowest average allowed in a single-season.
Monmouth senior wide receiver Reggie White Jr. has been nigh unstoppable in his career and is on the cusp of another Big South career record. He needs 109 receiving yards to become the league's all-time leader. The Big South's all-time receptions leader with 231, a record he achieved in Week 8, White is second in conference annals with 3,062 yards and approaching the career mark of 3,170 set by Liberty's Darrin Peterson (2012-15). White owns five career 10-reception games, the second-most in Big South history behind CSU's Maurice Price's record total of eight, and is tied for fifth with 26 career touchdown grabs.
Monmouth snapped CSU's three-game winning streak in the series this past season at Buccaneer Field. The Hawks led 16-0 at halftime and withstood a furious CSU rally in the second half to pick up their first win in the series.
Ronnie Harris Turning On The Jets
Charleston Southern redshirt junior running back Ronnie Harris has shown flashes of explosiveness in CSU's running game this season. The Richmond Hill, Ga. native was back at it again this past weekend against Kennesaw State with a 54-yard gain up the middle on CSU's first play from scrimmage against the Owls. He finished the day with a career-high 87 yards on 14 carries and boasts two of CSU's 50-plus yard carries on the season. Harris enters the Monmouth game on Saturday leading the team with 5.9 yards per carry and is tied with London Johnson for second on the Bucs with 306 rushing yards on the season. His two 80-plus yard games in 2018 have come against Florida (83) and Kennesaw State (87).
Dinkins Has It
Redshirt senior wideout Kenny Dinkins has established himself as the top receiver on the Buccaneers' roster this season. Dinkins boasts three games with at least four catches, including this past weekend against Kennesaw State when he led the Bucs with four receptions for 35 yards. The Lawtey, Fla. native has a habit of making big plays in key situations over the last few years, including catches that led to key late drives over the last two seasons in Big South play. Dinkins boasts two 60-yard receiving efforts on the season, including 65 yards and a touchdown against Virginia Lynchburg. Facing a Monmouth pass defense allowing 285.5 passing yards per game, Dinkins and company could be primed for a big game on Saturday against the Hawks.
All Play Runs Through Johnson
London Johnson has been the cog that Charleston Southern's offense has run through this season. The redshirt junior quarterback is seventh in the Big South in rushing yards per game (51.0) and sixth in passing yards per game (53.2) on the season. Johnson has been up-and-down in 2018, but has shown flashes of brilliance against both Elon and Presbyterian. The Clio, S.C. native posted a career-high 119 rushing yards in the Bucs' home opener against the Phoenix. His first 100-yard passing effort of 2018 came against Presbyterian when he went 6-of-9 through the air for 104 yards and a touchdown. Johnson's efforts are key to the Bucs' offensive success this season and he will look to overcome his struggles last season against the Hawks that featured a 4-of-7 performance with a pair of interceptions in CSU's 23-20 loss to MU.
Schwarting Making It Happen
Garris Schwarting has made the most of his playing time this season. With the CSU receiving corps banged up in 2018 with injuries sidelining Kameron Brown and Saire Davis for stretches, the junior wideout from Bamberg, S.C. has taken the next step and filled in the gap on the field. Schwarting recorded a career-high two catches for 86 yards and a touchdown three weeks ago in CSU's 58-6 win over Virginia Lynchburg. The following weekend, Schwarting made his impact on special teams with a scoop-and-score on a blocked punt against Presbyterian. This past weekend he was at it again with a 20-yard reception for a first down against Kennesaw State. He provides a reliable set of hands on the outside for the Bucs and is currently second on the team with 106 receiving yards on the season.
Chambers Ready To Make An Impact
Jack Chambers has been impactful when he's stepped on the field this season, including guiding the Buccaneers to the 58-6 win over Virginia Lynchburg. The redshirt freshman quarterback is currently averaging 48.8 passing yards and 19.2 rushing yards per game. The Lilburn, Ga. native threw for a career-high 155 yards and rushed for 112 more in the Bucs' win over the Dragons. He has seen playing time in five of the Bucs' seven games this season and added a 51-yard strike for a first down against Presbyterian. Chambers provides the Bucs with another experienced hand in the backfield in 2018 and could make an impact Saturday against Monmouth.
Converting a First Down
Charleston Southern's offense has struggled to stay on the field at times and the Bucs were limited again this past Saturday against Kennesaw State. CSU was 1-of-10 on third down against the Owls and were held to nine first downs for the third time this season. For the year, CSU has posted 85 offensive first downs and posts a 30.9% conversion rate on third downs. CSU was limited to holding possession for 22:21 against Kennesaw State and held onto the ball less than nine minutes in the second half. The Bucs will need to put together several sustained drives offensively to limit the opportunities the high-powered Monmouth offensive attack will have on Saturday afternoon. The Hawks are second in the Big South averaging 32.3 points per game and are 24th in FCS with 451.8 yards of total offense per game behind the strength of quarterback Kenji Bahar, as well as the quartet of Vinny Grasso, Pete Guerriero, Juwon Farri, and Reggie White, Jr.
School Record Return
When senior cornerback James Allen saw the ball coming his way on Saturday night against Kennesaw State, he had just one thought in mind – "catch it." The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native got both hands on the ball at the CSU goal line and looked upfield to see nothing but green. Allen took it up the left sideline for 30 yards before weaving his way across the field and out-pacing the KSU quarterback to right pylon for the 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was a CSU record return and tied Gerald Stevenson's 100-yard kickoff return for a score against Liberty in 2010 as the longest play in Buccaneer history. It was Allen's second pick-six of the season which also set a school record for the most career interception return scores. Allen has had his hands on the ball multiple times this season, including a trio of three pass breakup contests and his interceptions against both Hampton and Kennesaw State. He and the rest of the CSU defensive back group will have their hands full against a Monmouth team that averages 248.6 passing yards per game.
Making Plays – Defensive Back Edition
Dubbed the "Fearsome Foursome" early by the CSU sports information department this season, the defensive back senior quartet of Brandon Rowland, Jonathan Slaton, James Allen, and Shadarius Hopkins have taken the moniker and tweaked it to make it their own. Now the "Fantastic Four" or "F4", the senior crew has lived up to the preseason hype and currently head up a defensive effort that is ranked first in FCS against the pass in 2018. It will be a battle of bests with CSU ranked first in FCS in pass defense at 131.6 Yards per game, while Monmouth's pass offense is ranked first in the Big South at 248.6 yards per game. Each of CSU's starting defensive backs have had defining moments this season. Jonathan Slaton posted three pass breakups against Florida and a pick-six against Presbyterian. Allen is second in the Big South in pass breakups to go with a conference-leading two interception and scores. Rowland leads the conference defensive backs in tackles per game and added an interception and blocked field goal against Savannah State. Hopkins was the conference's Big South Defensive Player of the Week following his 16-tackle game against Elon.
Sosebee Is Everywhere
Redshirt junior linebacker J.D. Sosebee has lived up to the billing as one of the top play-making linebackers in the Big South this season. Voted a preseason All-Conference selection, the Gainesville, Ga. native posted three 10-plus tackle efforts earlier this season, including a career-high 13 stops against Savannah State on October 6. He has consistently been around the ball this year and has taken on more of a mentorship role this year as well with new starters Edward King and Kyle Syvarth. The 6-0 weakside linebacker has posted a trio of fumble recoveries on the year has is outpacing his totals from last season in both tackles (7.6) and tackles for loss (4.0).
Big South Leaders – Tackles
Charleston Southern's defensive leaders also sit among the Big South's leaders on the year. Solomon Brown, J.D. Sosebee, Brandon Rowland, and Shadarius Hopkins are all in the top five of their position groups in tackles this season with Brown and Rowland both leading their groups this season. Brown has posted a pair of double-digit tackling games this season, including 14 this past weekend against Kennesaw State. The Central, S.C. native leads all Big South defensive linemen with 7.0 tackles per game on the year and is second in the conference with 8.0 tackles for loss. Rowland paces all defensive backs with 6.3 stops per season, while Hopkins is third overall with 6.1 tackles per game. Sosebee rounds out the group and leads the Buccaneers with 7.6 tackles per game to sit fifth in the conference among the Big South's linebackers.
Turning It Over
After struggling early in the season, the Buccaneers defense has taken their turnover game to the next level. Featuring the "Turnover Playa" as mentioned by play-by-play announcer Kevin O'Rourke this past weekend against Kennesaw State, the Buccaneers are plus-nine in the turnover column over the last three games and plus-five overall on the season. CSU's defense posted a six-turnover game against Presbyterian and a four-turnover contest against Hampton, excelling against both the pass and run games. The Hawks are minus-five on the season this year coughing up six interceptions and seven fumbles on the year. CSU will need to force turnovers to keep pace with the Monmouth offense averaging 32.3 points per game this season.
Getting Off The Field
Monmouth boasts one of the purest pass-catching threats in Big South history in wide receiver Reggie White, Jr. The senior receiver leads the league in receptions (53) and receiving yards (822), and is second in touchdowns (6) heading into Saturday's game. He has been a key part of Monmouth's ability to sustain drives and put points on the board this season. The Bucs will need to target White and his connection with quarterback Kenji Bahar in an effort to get off the field quick. CSU's defense has averaged staying on the field over 32 minutes per game and the cracks started to show this past weekend against Kennesaw State. The Bucs are 17th in FCS and second in the Big South in first downs allowed on the season with 125. Getting off the field and allowing the defense to rest will be one of the keys to watch this weekend against the Hawks.
Tekac Reaching News Heights
Charleston Southern senior placekicker Tyler Tekac continues to push his way up the CSU record books following the Buccaneers' loss to Kennesaw State on Saturday night. Tekac connected on his career-best eighth field goal of the season against the Owls as he drilled the 32-yard attempt in the first quarter through the uprights. The kick tied for the 10th-most made field goals by a CSU kicker in a single season with Clint Kelly (1999) and was the 26th field goal of his Buccaneer four-year career. The Goose Creek, S.C. native is second in CSU history with 196 career points and two points away from entering the Big South's all-time scoring annals past Gardner-Webb's Ryan Gates (198, Gardner-Webb). Tekac will look to continue to build off a strong season that has the senior placekicker leading the conference in field goals made (8) and attempts (10).
Reighard Bouncing Back
Redshirt junior punter Kyle Reighard is coming off one of the toughest punting outings of his CSU career this past weekend against Kennesaw State. The preseason All-Conference selection averaged 35.3 yards per attempt over his seven punts with a longest of 44 yards coming last in the third quarter. He did pin three inside the 20-yard line to increase his total to 14 inside the year. Reighard is averaging 41.2 yards per attempt on the season and helms a punt unit ranked second in the Big South and eighth in FCS in net punting at 39.83 yards per attempt.