CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern (3-4, 2-1) looks to win a third-consecutive game for the first time since 2009 as the Bucs host the Edward Waters Tigers in a non-conference matchup on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. from Buccaneer Field.
The Bucs won their second game in as many contests with a 31-21 comeback victory over Presbyterian last week. PC jumped out to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. CSU battled back to make it a 21-13 deficit at halftime, before completely changing the game in the second half. The CSU defense stepped up during the third quarter and held Presbyterian to only 20 yards of total offense in the third period. Teddy Allen led the ground attack for the Bucs who controlled the football for over 20 minutes in the second half.
Edward Waters is an NAIA-Division I school located in Jacksonville, Florida. The Tigers suffered a 42-35 loss to Savannah State last week that snapped Savannah State’s 13-game losing streak dating back to last season.
CSU Head Coach, Jay Mills commented on the upcoming matchup with the Tigers, “They’re going to have a lot of depth. It reminded me of when we used to play the Academies when I was with Notre Dame. If you have 177 players, there’s probably a pretty good chance you can find eleven good ones to put on the field.”
This Saturday will mark the third time CSU has played Edward Waters. The Bucs have had their way with the Tigers in the first two meetings, winning both games and outscoring Edward Waters 95-6. The most recent matchup was in 2008 when CSU defeated the Tigers 48-6 at Buccaneer Field.
CSU has been running on all cylinders for the last two games offensively. The Bucs gained 385 yards of total offense with 271 yards coming from the run-game against Presbyterian. The ground-game was led by the Big South’s Offensive Player of the Week, Teddy Allen. The junior out of Florida rushed 21 times and put together career-highs with 156 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The 156 yards are good for the sixth best single-game total in CSU history while Allen’s four rushing touchdowns matched a school record. The Big South Honors did not stop with Allen, however. One game after Larry Jones III earned Big South Freshman Player of the Week honors for his two-touchdown-performance against VMI, Jones came back with three catches for 73 yards against Presbyterian to earn Freshman Player of the Week honors for a second-consecutive week.
Malcom Dixon has continued to progress at quarterback and continues to direct an option-offense that is picking up steam as the season goes on. Dixon was an efficient 6-of-8 with 104 yards through the air against PC. The junior-quarterback also ran nine times for 66 yards. Mills has hammered-in the concept of ball-security and his point seems to be sticking with Dixon who has not thrown an interception or fumbled in the last two games.
According to Mills, the week-to-week improvements are exactly what the Bucs are looking for, “We just have to focus on getting better. If you want to continue to win then the price never goes down it always goes up.”
Edward Waters runs a familiar triple-option offense. Mills spoke on the Tigers’ offense earlier in the week, “We’re going to see that spread-option attack that we struggled with against Shorter and that we struggled with against The Citadel. Hopefully, third time is a charm.” The Tigers are averaging 214 rush yards per game and 122.3 passing yards per game while scoring at an excellent rate (32.7 points per game). Quarterback, Bradon Turman, has been their main option on offense. The senior is first on the team in carries (111) and rushing touchdowns (6) and second on the team in rushing yards (440). In the passing game, Turman has completed 53% of his passes for 837 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
Phillip Teamer has led the Tigers on the ground with 581 yards and two TDs (83 yards per game). Suwayne Hylton has been Teamer’s main target through the air. Hylton leads Edward Waters with 15 catches for 310 yards and three touchdowns which are all team highs.
After two wins for CSU, the Bucs will come into Saturday’s game with tons of momentum and confidence. Look for the Bucs to continue to pound the football with Teddy Allen getting most of the carries and taking some snaps. The front line of Charleston Southern should be able to push around a much smaller Edward Waters team. If the Tigers get too focused on the run, look for the Bucs to take a few shots down field, especially with Jones III’s progression as a receiver. For Edward Waters to have a chance at keeping the game competitive, they’ll have to limit turnovers. The Tigers are currently minus 6 in turnover margin, which would rank last in the Big South.
The Bucs defense was slow to start this past Saturday. Presbyterian put up a quick 14 points in the first quarter. One of the touchdowns came after CSU muffed a punt, giving PC the football with a short field. The Bucs allowed a 267 yards in the first half, 195 of which came on the ground. The second half proved to be a completely different story. The Bucs held PC to only 20 total yards in the third quarter and 59 yards in the final 30 minutes. The ground game for PC was completely ineffective in the second half. Presbyterian gained only 13 yards in the final two quarters. Kaleb Griffin went 11-of-19 through air, but the Bucs defense held him to only three complete passes in 13 attempts in the second half.
Elijah Lee led the way defensively for CSU. The safety out of New Jersey had a team-high seven tackles while also picking up his first interception of the season. The interception came on Presbyterian’s first drive of the second half and seemed to lift the CSU defense. Lee is currently second on the team with 44 tackles, trailing only Zack Johnson who has 46 tackles.
Edward Waters has struggled mightily on defense. The Tigers are allowing an average of over 40 points per game through their first seven contests. The only game Edward Waters allowed fewer than 30 points was two weeks ago in a 30-29 win over Webber International. Tony Goodman, a defensive back, has far and away the most tackles on the team with 63. The next closest Tiger in tackles is Bernard Dawson, a linebacker, with 39 tackles.
Although the Bucs will have a vast size-advantage over Edward Waters, CSU has not defended well against the option this season. In the two games verse a triple-option, the Bucs have allowed 796 yards rushing and almost 1,000 yards of total offense. Mills described how his team must improve to stop the option, “Every player has to go to his area of responsibility on defense. If it happens 60 times in a game, we have to do it 60 times in-a-row the right way.”
Although the Bucs have had inconsistencies on special teams, punter, Cameron Mitchell turned in his most impressive performance of the season last Saturday against Presbyterian. Mitchell punted six times, averaging 41 yards per punt which is five yards better than his season average. He also boomed two punts of over 50 yards with a 59-yard long and pinned the Blue Hose inside the 20 three times.
The Bucs, however, also had a few miscues last week on special teams. A muffed punt set up the PC offense for an easy 13-yard touchdown drive. CSU missed another extra point last week making the Bucs 10-for-15 on PAT tries.
Edward Waters’ place-kicker Jerry Martin is a perfect 4-for-4 on field goals with a 34-yard long. Punter Kamer Mitchell is averaging only 32.4 yards per punt. The Tigers do not have a special teams touchdown this season.
“We’re going to see how far we have come as a football team when we lineup with Edward Waters on Saturday, “ Mills added.