#27 South Carolina State FCS Football 2015 Preview

George Hammond

South Carolina State Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #27

South Carolina State Team Page#27 South Carolina State FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy South Carolina State Football Tickets

The Bulldogs won four of their last five games in 2014, but the lone loss really hurt. It came against Morgan State, 24-21, and it helped to create a five-way tie for the title. Morgan State subsequently won the lengthy tie-breaking procedure to earn the league’s auto bid to the FCS playoffs. This year, the MEAC has opted out of the FCS playoffs to send its champion to a new bowl to face the winner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference in the Celebration Bowl on December 19th in the Georgia Dome. Veteran coach Buddy Pough enters his 14th season and the Bulldogs – given their history and the number of players returning – likely are the team to beat in the MEAC.
2014 Record: 8-4, 6-2
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Buddy Pough (105-47 at South Carolina State and overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Blackwell
Defensive Coordinator: Tommy Restivo

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jalen Simmons, RB, 1,082 yards
Passing: Adrian Kollock, QB, 1,244 yards
Receiving: Taquan West, WR, 481 yards
Tackles: Darius Leonard, LB, 95
Sacks: Javon Hargrave, DT, 16
Interceptions: Antonio Hamilton, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Temarrick Hemingway, DB Chris Pauling, RB Justin Taylor

Key Losses: DE Andrew Carter, DL Curtis Hil, DL Alex Glover, LB Justin Hughes, OL Domanic Wilson, OL Devin Flowers

The defense was strong in 2014 and it figures to be strong again. Thanks to Javon Hargrave and his 16 sacks, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 2 in the nation in sacks and led the MEAC. The MEAC Defensive Player of the Year returns and figures to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Coupled with return specialist and cornerback Antonio Hamilton, the Bulldogs have two of the top defensive players in the nation. And Hamilton has company in the secondary with the return of Chris Pauling, too. South Carolina State was No. 18 in the nation last year in scoring defense and it should easily be in the top half of the rankings again. Offensively, the Bulldogs have two top receivers in Temarrick Hemingway (18 receptions in nine games) and Taquan West (481 receiving yards). The ground game will be led by Jalen Simmons (1,090 yards and nine rushing TDs) and the return of 2013 standout Justin Taylor.

A team’s success usually revolves around the play of the quarterback and that’s going to be the case with South Carolina State. The key could likely be the play of redshirt junior quarterback Adrian Kollock Jr. Last year, Kollock was just 96-of-176 with seven interceptions and an average of 113.1 yards per game passing. The inconsistent passing game showed, too, as the Bulldogs were just 115th nationally in passing offense and 105th in total offense. Kollock has good people surrounding him so it’s on the quarterback to make the offense productive. As strong as South Carolina State should be on defense, the Bulldogs did lose three members of their line: Andrew Carter, Curtis Hil and Alex Glover. Hargrave can’t do it alone so he’ll need some help.

The Bottom Line:
South Carolina State will get tested early when it hosts in-state FCS rival Coastal Carolina. Last year, Coastal prevailed 30-3. But other than that, the schedule appears manageable and the Bulldogs don’t play Morgan State or North Carolina Central this season, two teams that beat them last year. However, they do play North Carolina A&T, who was picked to finish first this fall in the preseason MEAC coaches/media poll. South Carolina State was picked to finish second.

Projected Postseason: Celebration Bowl vs. SWAC champion

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 162.8 (64th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 132.0 (115, 9)
Total Offense: 294.8 (105, 7)
Scoring Offense: 26.6 (62, 5)  
Rushing Defense: 124.8 (21, 3)
Pass Defense: 208.3 (49, 8)
Total Defense: 333.1 (25, 4)
Scoring Defense: 20.8 (18, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.08 (55, 5)
Sacks: 3.67 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (52, 2)


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