CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern finished the first week of fall camp with their first day of full-padded practice on Saturday afternoon. CSU will take their NCAA-mandated day off tomorrow before taking the field again on Monday in preparation for next week's scrimmage.
The Buccaneers shook off the rust early with a leveled, Oklahoma-type drill that shook off some of the early rust of the season before settling into a fast-paced practice. CSU concluded the afternoon with their first 11-on-11 session in full pads as the Bucs continued their package installs in preparation for next week's scrimmages.
Head Coach Mark Tucker was pleased with the team's effort and receptiveness toward the new instruction given by the staff over the first week of practice.
"I'm very pleased with the physicality and the pace and pleased with the execution for the most part," Tucker said. "We're seeing advancements and improvements in what we're trying to get done and teach from our guys up front and we're seeing a different level of physicality from them."
He continued, "Defensively in the box, we're as good as advertised. I'm pleased with our safeties, our corner play, and our progressive learning throughout each practice. I think it has been a good week. We've amped up the pace a good bit from what we've done in the past."
The advancement in instruction is also something Associate Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Zane Vance focused on following the first practice in full pads.
"It's a work in progress," Vance commented. "There's obviously a ton of talent out here and we make a ton of plays based on raw ability. The thing we're focusing on now is the consistency to line up well, to get things out well, and to do it consistently. It's still a little raw this first week, but it was a solid effort."
The Oklahoma drill to open practice on Saturday also brought several things to mind for Vance as well as compliment to Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Scott.
"The thing I noticed in our Oklahoma drills this week was just how much stronger we were across the board," Vance said. "Coach Scott has done a great job with these guys. We looked different in that drill than we did back in April. The two things you have to do to play defense is to hit and shed the blockers and you have to be able to tackle. It was fun to get out there and knock the rust off."
Both Tucker and Vance appreciated the first week and the frenetic pace of play on both sides of the ball.
"We're excited," Tucker said. "We made it through the first week relatively healthy and our guys were flying around. They seem to enjoy the pace. They're tired, but they are active and learning on the run. There's good teaching going on here and our guys are learning."
Vance echoed the statement, "We have to continue to attack the ball; we took the ball away in double figures this week which is a great start in an abbreviated week. The pace of practice was fast and we have to make sure we're lined up and reading our keys. We have to limit our mistakes and make the corrections needed so we can move on to more advanced things next week."
Tucker and the staff are looking forward to the off day tomorrow before turning their focus toward next week's scrimmages. The Bucs will hold a partial scrimmage over the final periods on Wednesday afternoon, before holding a full scrimmage on Saturday morning at 9 a.m.
"We're going to attend service as a team tomorrow," Tucker said. "I've been asked to speak at two services and then I'm going to encourage our team and staff to get to bed and get some rest. We've earned it this week."
He added, "We need to be responsible to get ready for the scrimmages next week. We're going to back off a little bit to get them ready and healthy. We want to make sure they are out there, fresh and ready to be flying around."
The Bucs retake the field on Monday afternoon with pre-practice set for 2:45 p.m., while practice is slated to begin at 2:55 p.m.