Weekend Preview: CSU looks to continue winning streak on Saturday against Savannah State

Weekend Preview: CSU looks to continue winning streak on Saturday against Savannah State

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern closes out its road trip this weekend at Savannah State as the Buccaneers hit the road to T.A. Wright State Stadium to take on the Tigers on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. with the game set to be streamed live via ESPN3.

All game day information is available on the Game Day Central Page.

CSU Notes | SSU Notes | Big South Notes

Opening Season Road Trips
Charleston Southern continues their trek through the opening part of the season as the Buccaneers hit the road for the fourth time over their first five games. CSU has posted a 1-1 record on the road this season with a loss in the opener against Florida while topping Hampton this past weekend.

Passing Woes
Both teams have struggled in the passing game heading into the weekend. CSU (124th) and Savannah State (121st) both sit among the bottom in the national rankings in passing yards per game and the teams have combined to throw for eight interceptions over their first games this season.

Continuing the Winning Streak
Charleston Southern has dominated the series against Savannah State heading into this weekend's contest. The Bucs have won all seven games in the series dating back to the first contest in 2002. CSU is a perfect 5-0 at Buccaneer Field during the streak including last season's 52-27 win over the Tigers. CSU's last trip to Savannah State was back in 2008 - a 29-20 win.

Scouting the Tigers
Savannah State enters the weekend having struggled on the year with losses in each of their four completed contests on the season. SSU posted road losses to UAB, Miami (Fla.) and Florida A&M to start the season, before dropping a 35-20 decision in their home opener to Bethune-Cookman.

This is the eighth meeting between the programs all time. Savannah State is still searching for its first win overall in the series after falling for the seventh time last year at CSU, 52-27.

The last game in Savannah was the Tigers' closest to recording a win in the series. CSU topped Savannah State back in the 2008 season on October 11, 29-20.

Charleston Southern is the lone Big South team Savannah State has faced since the 2007 season. The Tigers are also currently 0-5 all-time against Gardner-Webb with the series ending back in November 2007.

Savannah State has struggled this season and currently ranks around the bottom of FCS in both scoring (8.3 ppg), first downs (44), and passing (90.0 ypg). The Tigers were limited to 78 total yards in their loss at Miami (Fla.), and struggled with only 23 passing yards against UAB in the season opener. 

Savannah State is currently making the transition down to NCAA Division II starting next season. The Tigers will join the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference starting next year and become the 15th member of the SIAC.

Quarterback D'Vonn Gibbons leads Savannah State's offensive efforts with 117 rushing yards and 205 passing yards on the season. The sophomore quarterback has posted a 38.89% completion percentage.

Defensively, Donald Rutledge is the tackling leader through the first four games with 27 on the year. Cam Brown leads the efforts at the line with 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Running Game Continuing to Move
Charleston Southern's running game continues to move the chains this year as the Buccaneers eclipsed the 220-yard rushing mark for the third consecutive game. Paced by Terrence Wilson's 103-yard rushing effort, the Bucs recorded 226 team rushing yards in the 48-14 win over Hampton this weekend. Wilson's triple-digit rushing effort was CSU's second consecutive game with a 100-yard rusher. The Bucs have topped their opponents in rushing in each of the three games this season. CSU enters the Saturday game ranked 20th overall in FCS in rushing yards per game (228.7) and have two players, London Johnson (6.47) and Terrence Wilson (6.31) ranked in the top 25 individually in rushing yards per carry.

Passing Game Shows Signs of Life
Up until this past weekend, Charleston Southern's passing game had struggled on the year during losses to both Florida and Elon. The Buccaneers entered the past weekend ranked 124th in FCS in passing yards and passing yards per completion after struggles against the Gators and the Phoenix. CSU more than doubled its passing output on the year against Hampton on Saturday afternoon with London Johnson and Jack Chambers combined for 71 yards and a pair of scores through the air. Wide receiver Saire Davis and running back Ronnie Harris both recorded their first receiving touchdowns of the season in the Bucs' win.

Wilson Hits the Big Time
Sophomore running back Terrence Wilson is a home run threat waiting to happen and the Leesville, S.C. native made his presence felt on CSU's first drive against the Pirates. Wilson recorded 80 rushing yards on the opening drive – 68 of which came on a touchdown run up the middle for the first score of the game. Wilson's run was CSU's third 60-plus yard rushing attempt of the season and the second of his career. Last season, Wilson went 62 yards for the score in CSU's 58-7 win over Mississippi Valley State. The sophomore is second on the team in rushing at 67.3 yards per game with scores against Florida and Hampton.

Davis In The End Zone
Senior wide receiver Saire Davis hauled in the Buccaneers' first receiving touchdown of 2018 in the second quarter against Hampton. Davis recorded his fifth career receiving score on the 13-yard touchdown reception on the post pattern over the middle. The Byron, Ga. native leads CSU's receiving corps with 28 yards on three catches for the season. He averages 16.5 yards per reception over his four-year career and is coming off a season with 12 catches, 211 receiving yards, and a pair of touchdowns.

Hold On To The Ball
CSU has struggled to hold onto the ball in 2018 and enters the game having turned the ball over nine times in three games. The Bucs have coughed up five interceptions and four fumbles on the season with three turnovers in each of the three games. CSU is -1.00 in turnover margin heading into the game against Savannah State and will need to limit mistakes against an athletic Savannah State defense that sits among the upper echelon in forcing turnovers with seven on the season.

Johnson's Mobility
Redshirt junior quarterback London Johnson has been among the Big South's best with the ball in his hands this season. Johnson enters the weekend fourth in the Big South in rushing yards per game (73.3), seventh in yards per rush (6.5), and seventh in rushing touchdowns (3). His ability to keep the ball alive in the pocket has also helped the Bucs in the passing game as the junior recorded his second career multi-touchdown passing effort at CSU. His last game against Savannah State, Johnson posted career-highs of 219 passing yards and four touchdowns in the win over the Tigers.

Turnover Party
Five. That's the turnover mark Charleston Southern's vaunted "Blue Swarm" defense recorded this past weekend against Hampton. After recording only one turnover, a fumble recovery against Elon, over the first two games, the Bucs got back on track on Saturday afternoon. CSU forced turnovers on each of Hampton's first two possessions and added three more in the contest to post the most forced turnovers in a game since taking on Presbyterian back in the 2009 season. CSU recorded four forced fumbles for the fifth time in CSU history and James Allen's pick-six was the first since Sekwan Jenkins returned an interception last season against Mississippi Valley State.

Getting A Hand On It
Charleston Southern's senior-laden defensive backs have been active already in 2018 with the quartet of Shadarius Hopkins, Brandon Rowland, James Allen, and Jonathan Slaton combining for nine pass breakups for the season. Slaton posted a career-high three pass breakups in the opener against Florida. This past weekend against Hampton, Allen matched Slaton's total and added CSU's first interception of the season. Allen currently leads the Big South in passes defended on the season with 1.67 per game, while Slaton is currently tied for fourth overall with 1.00 per game. CSU's pass defense is currently 16th in the FCS allowing 166.3 yards per game through the air.

Seeking A Target
J.D. Sosebee continues to live up to his preseason All-Conference billing as the redshirt junior linebacker posted his second consecutive double-digit tackle effort of the season against Hampton. Sosebee recorded a team-leading 10 tackles against the Pirates this past weekend and added 0.5 sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery in the 48-14 win over Hampton. This comes after his 10-tackle contest against Elon last weekend. Sosebee is currently second on the Bucs with 8.0 tackles per game on the season and is fifth among conference linebackers in the category.

Pick Six
Senior cornerback James Allen recorded his first career interception this past weekend against Hampton. The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. native stepped in front of a pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown on Hampton's second drive of the game to give CSU the 14-0 lead. Allen's interception was CSU's first pick of the season and the first one returned for a touchdown since Sekwan Jenkins went 70 yards the other way in the win over Mississippi Valley State last year. Allen leads CSU's defensive backs with four pass breakups on the season and will look to continue his strong play against a passing offense ranked near the FCS' bottom this season at 90.0 yards per game.

Own The Line
Charleston Southern's defensive efforts took over the line of scrimmage this past weekend against Hampton as CSU recorded a season-high eight tackles for loss against the Pirates. Pacing the efforts was redshirt junior linebacker J.D. Sosebee with a team-high 2.0 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Altogether, eight different players were in on stops in the Hampton backfield for the most stops behind the line this season. It marked the fourth-most TFL in the Tucker coaching era at CSU and nearly doubled their season output through three games. The Bucs currently are third in the Big South averaging 5.7 tackles behind the line per game this season.

All-American Candidates Step Up
Two known names on the defensive side of the ball this season were All-American candidate defensive linemen Solomon Brown and Johnny Robinson. The duo has been strong up front over the first three games of the year and are helping a youthful front line for the Bucs. Brown enters the weekend contest leading all Big South defensive linemen with 5.7 tackles per game. Robinson has posted sacks in each of the last two games and leads the team with 2.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks on the year.

Kicking Game Woes
Charleston Southern's kicking game has struggled in the early season this year with the Buccaneers missing a field goal and a trio of PATs over the first three games. Tyler Tekac has been the unfortunate recipient of a pair of blocked kicks in the opener against Florida. He has also missed a PAT in each of the last two games. Tekac connected on a 44-yard field goal in the loss against Elon and has shown consistency throughout his career as he continues to climb up the CSU all-time scoring record books. The Goose Creek, S.C. native will look to get back on track this weekend against the Tigers, a team he was a perfect 8-for-8 last season against, including a 42-yard field goal in CSU's 52-27 win over SSU.

He's Got A Boot
Kyle Reighard is quietly putting together another strong season at punter for the Buccaneers. The 2018 Big South Preseason All-Conference punter has recorded a 42.0-yard average per attempt on the year. Included in this number is seven fair catches and six punts downed inside the 20. The redshirt junior helms a unit ranked 12th in FCS in overall net punting at 40.28 yards per attempt and 26th in FCS in punt return defense at 4.43 yards per return. Reighard provides an experienced weapon for the CSU special teams and will look to help swing the field this weekend against SSU.

Usry Making A Hit (Or Two)
Not only has redshirt freshman Alex Usry taken over the primary kickoff duties, the McDonough, Ga. native has also proven to have a nose for the football this year. Usry executed a perfect form tackle for his first takedown of the season this past weekend against Hampton and boasted a 58.6 yard per attempt average including a touchback in his eight attempts on Saturday. Named the primary starter on the kickoff team heading into the season, Usry has averaged 56.0 yards per attempt on the year and limited opponents to starting at an average of their own 27-yard line.

He Could Go All The Way
CSU was waiting for a breakout game from their standout return man this season, the senior wide receiver Taz Lindsey delivered against Hampton. Although fellow senior returner James Allen received conference Player of the Week accolades following his 80-yard touchdown return, Lindsey put together a strong campaign of his own against the Pirates. The Augusta, Ga. native posted five punt returns for 90 yards and added a 22.5 return average over his first two kickoff return attempts. Lindsey almost provided the statement of the game on the opening kickoff with a 91-yard return down to the HU five-yard line, but the play was called back due to penalty. The Big South Preseason Punt Returner will look to continue his strong season this weekend against a Savannah State team allowing 24.0 yards per punt return on the year.

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