#37 South Carolina State FCS Football 2014 Preview

South Carolina State Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #37

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South Carolina State earned an at-large bid from the MEAC after a quality nine win season. After losing their first two games against Coastal Carolina and Clemson, the Bulldogs won nine of their next ten. The lone loss came at MEAC co-champs Bethune-Cookman. However, Coach Buddy Pough could not quite pull off a playoff win over Furman. They will try again in 2014.

2013 Record: 9-4, 7-1
2013 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Buddy Pough (97-43 at South Carolina State, 97-43 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Joseph Blackwell
Defensive Coordinator: Mike Adams

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Justin Taylor, RB, 706 yards
Passing: TeDarrius Wiley, QB, 234 yards
Receiving: Taquan West, WR, 241 yards
Tackles: Justin Hughes, LB, 55
Sacks: Andrew Carter, DE, 11.0
Interceptions: Steven Murphy, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Dontre Lewis-Freeman, TE Tammarick Hemingway, OL Domanic Wilson, DL Alex Glover, DL Javon Hargrave, DL James Robinson, CB Shaquan Brock

Key Losses: QB Richard Cue, WR Tyler McDonald, WR Caleb Davis, OL Tristian Bellamy, DB Mason Harris, DB Darius Drummond, LB Joe Thomas, DB Kimario McFadden

The Bulldogs defense allowed just 238.0 yards per game. That was the best of any team in the FCS. The Bulldogs held six opponents to six points or fewer. If it was not for Clemson being on the schedule, South Carolina State would have allowed even fewer than 15.2 points per game. A big reason for the success of the defense was due to the fact that the Bulldogs totaled an amazing 63 sacks on the season. With the return of a couple All-Americans and another All-MEAC honoree, the defensive line is going to be even better. End Andrew Carter tallied 11.0 sacks and Alex Glover added 9.5 more. Javon Hargrave totaled 51 tackles and will certainly join Carter and Glover in the opponent’s backfield. With those three giving quarterbacks nightmares and stuffing the run, this is going to be a great defense once again. Justin Hughes and Tevin Richard will help ease the loss of leading tackler Joe Thomas at linebacker. In the secondary, Steven Murphy and Shaquan Brock are the most experienced options.

The offense will refocus around the running game. Justin Taylor rushed for 706 yards and six touchdowns, while Dondre Lewis-Freeman added 409 yards and four scores. But the bigger news is the return of Jalen Simmons, who missed all of 2013 with an injury. There will be a lot of depth in the backfield and Coach Pough will come up with ways to get multiple backs on the field at the same time, whether it be as a fullback or by running the wildcat more often. But the ground game may not be as productive as they could be without a decent passing game. Quarterback Richard Cue is gone and junior TeDarrius Wiley is likely next in line. Cue’s backup in 2013, Wiley threw for 234 yards and one touchdown in limited action. Unfortunately for Wiley, the top two receivers, Tyler McDonald and Caleb Davis, are gone.

The Bottom Line:
The South Carolina State defense will keep this team in just about every game and they will win plenty of games on their own. But the margin for victory when it comes to winning the MEAC will be slim. Non-conference matchups against Clemson, Coastal Carolina and Furman, three of the four teams the Bulldogs lost to in 2013, will probably end in three more losses this year. However, their fourth loss came against Bethune-Cookman and this time around South Carolina State gets the Wildcats in Orangeburg.

Projected Postseason: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 162.7 (60th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 179.0 (90, 4)
Total Offense: 341.7 (87, 3)
Scoring Offense: 28.8 (44, 2)
Rushing Defense: 90.0 (2, 2)
Pass Defense: 147.1 (2, 2)
Total Defense: 238.0 (1, 1)
Scoring Defense: 15.2 (3, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.2 (51, 4)
Sacks: 4.77 (1, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (20, 2)

Madness 2014 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#7 T.J. Foster


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