Chadwell era begins at CSU Saturday - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Chadwell era begins at CSU Saturday

Posted: Updated:
August 28th, 2013 -

Charleston Southern opens a new football era on Saturday as the Buccaneers meet The Citadel in their 2013 season opener. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

CSU and first-year head coach Jamey Chadwell are eager to get on the field to see just how much progress the Bucs have made in fall camp. He also believes properly handling the excitement and emotion that goes with an opener against a local rival, will be a key to the game.

"No matter what level, it's the first game so everyone's jacked for that," Chadwell said. "It's important that we control our emotions and enthusiasm and save it for when the game counts."

Chadwell and the Bucs are also eager to begin turning around the series with the Bulldogs. The Citadel has won all four meetings in season openers, including last year's meeting. The Bucs led 14-7 late in the first half after taking advantage of two Bulldog turnovers, but struggled to keep things going in the second half of a 49-14 loss. He knows it's time for CSU to gain some ground in the series.

"Obviously, it's a rival for us," Chadwell continued. "They don't see it as a rival because we haven't beaten them enough to make it one. That's something that we have to use as motivation in that we're trying to go down there and earn some respect from them, the city and the community. I know that we'll be up for the game, and I'm hoping that we can control it and use it to our advantage."

Charleston Southern will debut its spread option attack with senior quarterback Malcolm Dixon at the reins. Dixon enters his final campaign at CSU with a chance to burn his name into school's offensive record book in a number of categories. He currently sits 5th in total offense and passing yardage, and 8th in rushing yards.

Dixon's ability, along with a crop of running backs led by junior college transfer Christian Reyes, has the Bucs' optimistic about their potential as an offense.

CSU put together back-to-back second quarter touchdown drives against The Citadel last season to take a 14-7 lead, including a 10-play, 98-yard drive that ranked as one of the best of the season. Turnovers unraveled the Bucs in the second half of last season's loss and are the "make or break" often times in the option game.

"Turnovers are the key in anything you do, no matter who you're playing," Chadwell said. "They're pretty good defensively, but I have confidence that we can move the football. "We can't turn over the football and beat ourselves. We can't jump off sides, or have foolish penalties. If we avoid those issues, I feel like we'll be in the game, compete and have a chance to win. If we're turning the ball over and beating ourselves, it could get ugly. We've done a good job of coaching our guys to know the importance of controlling the things that we can control so I expect us to go out and handle our business."

Containing The Citadel's triple-option offense will pose a significant challenge for Charleston Southern's new 3-4 scheme under first-year coordinator Chad Staggs.

The Bulldogs enter their fourth season running the system, and have steadily improved each year, going from under four yards per carry in 2010 to almost six in 2012. The Citadel ranked 4th in the country with 300.6 rushing yards per game last season, and returns a 1,000 yard-rusher in fullback Darien Robinson, a Sports Network preseason second-team All-American.

The Bulldogs also return senior quarterback Ben Dupree, who piloted the option attack and tallied 839 yards and nine touchdowns himself.

"It's a huge challenge to defend them," Chadwell said. "They're bringing back a quarterback (Dupree) who has been a great player for them for three years, going on four. The fullback (Robinson) is really good and they've been in the system now for four years. Our defense has been diligent in trying to have a plan to slow them down. I don't think you can stop them, but we'll try to slow them down. It's a big challenge and hopefully our defense will be up for it."

A good running game is predicated on a strong offensive line, and The Citadel has plenty of experience up front. The Bulldogs return five fifth-year offensive linemen, including four starters from 2012. The four have combined to play in 129 collegiate games, meaning CSU's defensive line and linebackers face a stern test in the first game of 2013.

Anchoring the middle of CSU's new 3-4 alignment is junior James Smith, who makes the switch from defensive tackle to nose guard. The Bucs were impressed by Smith's improved quickness in fall camp, and believe the switch to nose guard could have CSU's strongest player primed for a breakout campaign.

"He's built to be a good nose guard because he's quick and he can slant and cause some havoc," said Chadwell of James. "I think the defense is really going to help him and what his skillset is."

At linebacker, CSU will count on senior Calvin Bryant to lead an experienced corps that will be critical in slowing down The Citadel's ground game. Chadwell is well aware that it will take a complete defensive effort to hold the Bulldogs' potent offense in check.

"I think you have to try to take two of the three away (when it comes to the triple option)," Chadwell said. "You try to take away two and hopefully you can tackle the third. We have to do a good job, obviously, of stopping the fullback and containing the quarterback and then live with what happens after that."

Saturday's game is the closest thing the Bucs have to a second home game in the season's opening month. CSU host Shorter next week (Sept. 7) before playing three-straight road game to close out September.

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