CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern and Monmouth take center stage on Saturday night as the Buccaneers host the Hawks in a game streamed on ESPN3 this weekend at Buccaneer Field. Kickoff between the Bucs and the Hawks is set for 6 p.m. with live coverage also being provided on CSUSports.com by the CSU Sports Network.
Gates open at 4:30 p.m. with all game day information available on the Game Day Central Page.
Big South Players of the Week Galore
Saturday's matchup features three of the Big South's reigning Conference Player of the Week honors as CSU's London Johnson (Offensive), and Monmouth's Pete Guerriero (Special Teams) and Pete Zokouri (Freshman) all earned recognition from the conference office this week. Johnson led the Bucs with 336 yards total offense in CSU's win over Savannah State, while the MU duo paced the Hawks past Liberty in their conference opener.
Looking Back at the Matchup
Charleston Southern has won all three matchups against Monmouth since MU joined the conference in the 2014 season. The Bucs have outscored the Hawks 99-14 overall and has held Monmouth under 150 yards total offense in two of the three contests. CSU topped Monmouth 37-7 in the two teams' last meeting in Charleston in 2015.
Conference Home Openers
Charleston Southern has won each of its last two conference home openers with wins over Monmouth (37-7, 2015) and Presbyterian (38-3, 2016). The Bucs have won 22 of their last 25 home games at Buccaneer Field, including sporting a perfect 3-0 mark at home this season.
Big South Player of the Week
Charleston Southern redshirt sophomore quarterback London Johnson was named this week's Big South Football Offensive Player of the Week following his performance this past Saturday against Savannah State. Johnson finished with a career-high 117 rushing yards on 16 carries and then added 219 yards passing and four touchdowns to pace a CSU effort that eclipsed 50 points at home for the third time this season. Johnson's 219 passing yards and 117 rushing yards made him the first quarterback to reach the mark since CSU alum and current running backs coach Malcolm Dixon reached the mark in back-to-back games in the 2013 season.
Rushing Wins Games
The Buccaneers have gained 987 rushing yards over three home games in the 2017 season. Not surprising, CSU is also 3-0 at home this year with the Bucs averaging 329.0 yards per game on the ground. The Bucs' offense has been resurgent at home outscoring the opposition 176-34 on the season with a 73-31 advantage in first downs. Leading CSU's rushing attempts has been Noah Shuler's 324 yards on 67 carries. Ronnie Harris (312) and London Johnson (301) are also over 300 yards rushing for the Bucs in the 2017 season with Johnson posting a season-high 117 yards on 16 carries this past weekend against Savannah State.
First Downs Move Chains
Charleston Southern has accumulated 110 first downs in the 2017 season; 30 of them came this past weekend against Savannah State. Overall, 73 of CSU's 110 first downs (66.4%) have come inside the friendly confines of Buccaneer Field. The Bucs have struggled on the road falling twice to a pair of FBS opponents and to No. 11/14 Elon following a week of missed practice due to Hurricane Irma. The Bucs have averaged 24.3 first downs per game at home with 29 coming in the opener against Point and 14 in CSU's win over MVSU. CSU is fourth in the Big South in overall first downs on the season.
Time of Possession Battle
The Bucs cracked the 30-minute mark in time of possession this past weekend as CSU held onto the ball for a season-high 38:28 in the win over Savannah State. CSU ran 73 offensive plays and averaged 7.2 yards per play this past weekend in the win over the Tigers. The Bucs have cracked the 30-minute time of possession mark four times in the 2017 season with their lone loss coming against Elon (33:35). CSU is second in time of possession in the Big South Conference on the year trailing only Kennesaw State (32:48) and has perennially been among the national leaders in the category finishing 10th in 2015.
Charleston Southern lost the turnover battle for just the second time in the 2017 season this past weekend, but it highlights a more troubling issue for the Bucs over the last two weeks. CSU turned the ball over three times this past week in the win over Savannah State as the Bucs coughed up three fumbles against the Tigers. CSU also gave up a pair of fumbles and threw an interception the previous week against Presbyterian. Prior to the past two weeks, the Bucs have only turned the ball over four times; twice each against Point and Mississippi Valley State. CSU has a plus-six advantage in turnovers in the 2017 season thanks to an opportunistic defense.
Get Him the Ball
When the ball gets into the hands of redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kameron Brown, good things happen. The Beech Island, S.C. native finished fifth in the NCAA in receiving yards per catch in 2016 with 20.00 yards per reception. This year Brown is back in the top 10 with 22.14 yards per reception to sit 10th overall in the category on the year. Brown posted back-to-back 100-yard receiving efforts against Point and Mississippi Valley State and posted a three-catch, 74-yard game this past weekend in the win against Savannah State. Brown has three 40-plus yard receptions on the season, including a career-high 87-yard touchdown reception in the Bucs' win over MVSU.
Welcome Back Solomon Brown
For six games Solomon Brown had struggled to break into the backfield; no more. This past weekend Brown was the star out of many on the CSU defensive side of the ball with a career-high 2.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and an interception. Brown entered the contest sack-less for the 2017 season after posting 10.5 sacks over the previous two seasons. He brought the quarterback down twice on one drive in the second quarter and then combined with Zane Cruz on another sack. Brown came through with an interception in the third quarter to end an SSU scoring threat.
Anthony Ellis Pursuing History
Charleston Southern defensive end, Buck Buchanan Award candidate and Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Ellis became just the third player in Big South history with 40 career tackles-for-loss and 20 career sacks this past Saturday during the Presbyterian game. He is now second with 21.0 career sacks and is third with 42.0 career tackles for loss. Ellis joins Gardner-Webb's Brian Johnston (53.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks) and Liberty's Chima Uzowihe (44.0 tackles for loss, 25.0 sacks) in this exclusive club. Ellis is second in the Big South with 5.5 sacks and is 1.5 away from joining Uzowihe as the only players in league annals with three 7.0 sack seasons.
Chasing the Quarterback
A multi-faceted pass rush has guided the Buccaneers defense to lead the Big South in sacks in the 2017 season. Fourteen different players have accumulated at least a partial sack this year with Ellis leading the way with a team-high 5.5 sacks on the season. Johnny Robinson (3.0, 7th), Solomon Brown (2.5, 8th), and Joey Maxberry (2.0, 10th) are also among the Big South leaders in quarterback takedowns on the year, while Anton Williams (1.5) and Ty'Reik Faulks (1.5) have both stood out in limited time in their freshman seasons. The Bucs also set a school single-game record with nine sacks against Mississippi Valley State.
Shadarius Makes Plays
Charleston Southern cornerback Shadarius Hopkins showcased the explosive ability that saw the Winnsboro, S.C. lead the Bucs with 14 passes defensed and earn Preseason All-Conference honors from the Big South prior to the 2017 season. Hopkins came through with a pair of big plays against Indiana as the junior forced a fumble inside the CSU red zone on the Hoosiers' second drive of the game and was indirectly responsible for Anthony Ellis' interception in the third quarter. Hopkins is third on the team with 37 tackles and leads the Bucs with six pass breakups in the 2017 season.
Success Against Monmouth
The Buccaneers defense has stepped up when CSU has played the Hawks over the last three seasons. CSU limited Monmouth to under 150 yards total offense in each of the first two games before the Hawks broke through with 260 yards offense last season in West Long Branch, N.J. The Hawks have not eclipsed 68 rushing yards in three games against the Buccaneers with Monmouth posting 58 last season in the Bucs' 37-7 win. The Hawks average 228.1 rushing yards per game on the year led by Big South leader Pete Guerriero's 97.7 yards per game on the ground.
Under 100 rushing yards
A common trend in each of CSU's three wins in the 2017 season has been the Bucs' ability to limit the opponents' rushing attack. CSU held Point to 61 yards in the Bucs' home opening 66-0 win. The Bucs followed up by limited Mississippi Valley State to -24 yards in the 58-7 win over the Delta Devils. The Bucs limited then-Big South rushing leader Torrance Marable and the PC rushing offense to 76 yards on 32 carries in the Bucs' 7-0 win over the Blue Hose. CSU limited Savannah State to 24 yards rushing this past weekend in the 52-27 win over the Tigers. CSU limited opponents to under 100 yards' rushing five times in the 2016 season with the Bucs victorious in each contest.
Tekac Moving Up in the Record Books
Junior placekicker Tyler Tekac is continuing to move up the record books in the career scoring category this season. Tekac opened the year seventh all-time with 103 points and now is currently fifth in the rankings surpassing Collin Drafts (102, 2003-06), Christian Reyes (108, 2013-14), and Maurice Price (116, 2004-06) in the standings. The Goose Creek, S.C. native has connected on four of seven field goal attempts this season and 23 of 24 extra points. Three of his makes have been from 40-plus yards, including the second-longest field goal in CSU history, a 49-yard attempt in the Bucs' win over Point. Tekac is currently five points away from moving past John Paglia (143, 2007-10) into fourth all-time at CSU.
Kennedy's Kickoff Average/Coverage
Key to Saturday's competition will be the battle between CSU kickoff ace David Kennedy and the Monmouth special teams. Returner Pete Guerriero earned Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors this past weekend in Monmouth's 56-39 win over Liberty and sparked the Hawks' attack with a 95-yard return for a touchdown. Kennedy's ball placement on the kickoff team has led the Bucs to lead the Big South and sit 13th in the FCS in kickoff return defense allowing 17.17 yards per return. Monmouth is second in the conference and 29th in the FCS in kickoff return average at 22.44 yards per return.