#35 Charleston Southern 2018 FCS Football Preview

Charleston Southern Buccaneers
Overall Rank: #35
#3 Big South
  Charleston Southern Logo
Charleston Southern had a bit of transition season in 2017 as the Buccaneers went 6-5 under the direction of head coach Mark Tucker. However, Charleston Southern was in the mix for the Big South Conference championship until the final weeks of the season. Looking ahead to 2018 the defense should be the strength once again but they will need help from the offense stepping up and being more consistent all season long.
2017 Record: 6-5, 3-2
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Mark Tucker (6-5 at Charleston Southern, 6-5 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mark Tucker
Defensive Coordinator: Zane Vance
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ronnie Harris, RB, 405 yards
Passing: London Johnson, QB, 581 yards
Receiving: Kameron Brown, WR, 552 yards
Tackles: J.D. Sosobee, LB, 81
Sacks: Johnny Robinson, DL, 6.5
Interceptions: Salomon Brown, DE, 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Terrance Wilson, WR Geoffrey Wall, WR Kenny Dinkins, K Tyler Tekac, OL Brackin Smith, OL Stephen Haralambis, OL Gage Bostwick, RB Charin Hamilton, DB Jonathan Slaton, DB Shadarius Hopkins, P Kyle Reighard
Key Losses: RB Noah Shuler, QB Shane Bucenell, OL Frank Cirone, OL Jackson Williamson, DE Anthony Ellis, LB Bobby Ruff, LB Zane Cruz
London Johnson takes control of the quarterback position with the departure of Shane Bucenell, who transferred during the offseason. Johnson has more big play potential in the quarterback run game as he had a long run of 54 yards last season. The passing game is not a huge component of the Buccaneers offense, but Johnson will need to improve upon his 52.6 percent completion percentage. Ronnie Harris, Terrance Wilson, and Charin Hamilton are back and will provide plenty of competitive depth for this triple option attack. Kameron Brown is a big play threat at wide receiver who maximized his opportunities last season, catching 25 passes for 552 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line returns a nice mix of experience led by Brackin Smith, Stephen Haralambis, and Gage Bostwick. That continuity should set this Charleston Southern offense up for a nice step forward in 2018.
J.D. Sosobee is the leading returning tackler at linebacker and, along with Salomon Brown at defensive end, will lead this Buccaneer defense in 2018. Sosobee will need to increase his tackles from 2017 as he should be able to get over the 100 tackle mark this season. Brown should have more opportunities for sacks with the graduation of Anthony Ellis at the other defensive end position. Brown had 3.5 sacks and eight tackles-for-loss last season and it will be interesting to see how Brown responds to more potential double-teams by opposing offenses this season. Jonathan Slaton and Shadarius Hopkins are back in the secondary and will look to build off last year’s strong pass defense numbers as teams only threw for 185.4 yards last season. Tyler Tekac is back at placekicker after making 7-of-10 field goals and 28-of-29 extra points in 2017.
The Bottom Line:
It will be a long month on the road in September for Charleston Southern as they will play three of four games away from home. The season opens on September 1st down in the swamp against Florida from the Southeastern Conference. Two weeks later a trip to play The Citadel is on tap followed by the home opener against Elon and then a trip to Hampton. A nice goal for the opening month for the Buccaneers would be to go 2-2. The three swing games of the season are against Presbyterian, Kennesaw State, and Monmouth. If Charleston Southern can go 2-1 in those three games, then they have a great shot to win seven games, if not eight, this season and be on the edge of the FCS playoff conversation.
Projected Postseason: None
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 193.8 (26th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 126.7 (116,3)
Total Offense: 319.7 (88,3)
Scoring Offense: 22.7 (66,3)
Rushing Defense: 126.2 (29, 2)
Pass Defense: 185.4 (26, 2)
Total Defense: 311.5 (18, 2)
Scoring Defense: 19.8 (25, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.09 (72,3)
Sacks: 3.09 (10, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.82 (47, 4)