Bucs open season Thursday, eyeing FCS playoffs

  • Tuesday, August 26, 2014

File photo/CSU Sports Information Christian Reyes returns to lead CSU's potent rushing attack.

Charleston Southern will begin a new football season with the first home night game in the school’s history.

The Buccaneers host Point University on Thursday at 7 p.m.

CSU is coming off a 10-win campaign and climbed as high as No. 12 in the national polls. The Bucs return 18 starters and 42 letterwinners.

The addition of lights to Buccaneer Field has generated an added level of excitement for a CSU team that starts the year on the outskirts of the FCS Top 25.

“I think that they feel confident that they can be a good football team,” second-year CSU coach Jamey Chadwell said. “A majority of them know what it takes week in, week out to go out and play at the highest level. Last year, obviously, was a special year but it’s not going to mean anything this year… It’s more about coming together with a group of young men and those guys forming a bond where they’re playing for each other.”

CSU opens the season with four straight home games a year after playing four of its first five on the road. All four take place under Buccaneer Field’s new lights, as CSU hosts the first night games in school history.

After Point, a talented Newberry team that won nine games and reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs last year makes its way to Charleston on Sept. 6. A visit from Campbell follows five days later for a second Thursday night contest.

Then, the opening homestand concludes with a much-anticipated date with The Citadel on Sept. 20. The contest marks the first time The Citadel has made the trip up Interstate 26 as the Bucs try for back-to-back wins over the rival Bulldogs.

CSU excelled behind a ball-control offense that led the country in average time of possession last season, and figures to follow that formula again in 2014.

Senior running back Christian Reyes was the Bucs’ workhorse a year ago and enters the season just 488 yards away from becoming the program’s all-time leading rusher. Reyes shattered the single-season mark last year with 1,254 yards to pace a CSU rushing attack that ranked 17th nationally, averaging nearly 233 yards per game.

Preseason All-Big South right guard Clayton Truitt anchors an offensive line returning four starters.

Junior quarterback Austin Brown, a transfer from UAB that started 15 games for the Blazers over the past two years, has grown in his grasp of Chadwell’s spread option attack.

Sophomore Colton Korn is back after finishing second on the team in receptions in 2013. Redshirt junior Nathan Perera also makes a return to the lineup after missing most of the past two seasons due to injury. Perera was an All-Big South performer in 2011.

Preseason All-Big South selections Dylan Black and James Smith anchor a defensive line that the staff views as perhaps the deepest unit on the team.

Redshirt senior Zac Johnston and junior Aaron Brown are the most experienced of a linebacker corps with several talented freshmen that could break into the lineup.

Senior Demaris Freeman finished fourth in the Big South with 90 tackles in 2013, and leads the secondary. Junior Corbin Jackson is back at free safety.

Sophomore Truett Burns returns as CSU’s punter after a solid freshman season, and will be joined by newcomers in the kicking game.

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