Mississippi State will kick off its 2017 football season against a nationally ranked FCS opponent, Charleston Southern.
Charleston Southern, a small Baptist affiliated college located in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina is an opponent most Mississippi State fans would not know much about or care to, but there are some interesting facts about the Buccaneers.
Charleston Southern founded in 1964, by the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and currently enrolls 3,700 students, which is good for the second smallest enrollment in the Big South conference. The school boasts some notable alumni such as US Senator Tim Scott and famous Alzheimer’s Research Dr. Sam Gandy .
Charleston Southern, coming off an FCS Playoff bid returns their starting quarterback Shane Bucenell, who tossed for 1,100 yards, as well as punching in 15 touchdowns in his first year as a starter for the Buccaneers.
(Shane Bucenell, Freshman Highlights)
Shane will have to carry much of the load this season, as CSU’s top two rushers graduated, as they accounted for over 1,400 yards rushing for the season, as well as made up much of the 266 rushing yards per game average. However, Bucenell rushed for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season, which was good for 3rd on the team in both categories. The backfield should be rounded out by one of two unproven Sophomores Chanin Hamilton or Geoffrey Wall, who combined rushed for a measly 186 yards on the season, which was good for 8th and 9th on the team respectfully. So, how on earth to two running backs, who didn’t score a single touchdown or run for over 200 yards combined start for a nationally ranked Division 1 football program, well it maybe because the Bucs had 4 rushers in their top 8 graduate with the remaining 4 being quarterbacks! Needless, to say the Buccaneers are going to have serious problems even remotely replicating their rushing stats from last season. However, in the receiving corps, CSU returns 3 of their top 5 receivers, Kameron Brown, Jared Scotland, and Saire Davis. Kameron Brown led the team in receiving in his redshirt Freshman campaign hauling in 542 yards and also scoring 6 times on the year. The trio accounted for 919 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns on the season. Concluding the offense outlook for the Buccaneers shows that they will have to replace some big time contributors on the offensive side of the ball, but that can also be offset with the jump sophomore quarterback Shane Bucenell and Sophomore wide receiver Kameron Brown are expected to make.
The Buccaneers return many contributors on the defensive side of the ball including Junior top tackler Solomon Brown. Brown, a former 2* OLB from Central, South Carolina finished the season with 35 tackles, which was good enough to place him atop the stat charts during his sophomore season.
The Bucs also return another linebacker, in Senior Zane Cruz, who in his junior season accounted for 25 tackles, as well as an interception. The defensive front returns every single major contributor from a season ago, including the leading tackler of the bunch Anthony Ellis, who racked up 27 during his junior campaign. However, where CSU will lack experience is in its secondary. They will lose most of their contributors last season to graduation, as the only decent player returning for the secondary is Junior Shadarius Hopkins, who last season played in all 11 games last season, and accounted for 2 interceptions last season. The Buccaneers will have serious problems stopping the passing game this season, and if reports are correct Nick Fitzgerald’s improved accuracy could lead him to put up some great numbers against the overmatched Buccaneers secondary.
Special Teams Breakdown:
Special Teams will win and lose you games as Mississippi State fans know too well, but how do the Buccaneers look in their 2017 department? They return their two field goal kickers from last season, Tyler Teckac and Jacob Smoak. Tyler Teckac is used as mainly their short range and PAT kicker, as his longest kick last season was 38 yards, and he went 4 for 6 on FG for the season, as well as 43 for 45 on PAT’s, which is good enough for a 96% clip for the year. Jacob Smoak is used as the long distance kicker, as his long field goal last season topped out at 46 yards. Smoak also went 2 for 2 on PAT’s last season. Smoak is reported to have one of the best legs in the FCS Division, and early last season he narrowly missed a game winning 51-yard field goal against, at the time, #1 North Dakota State in Fargo. CSU will have to replace last year’s starting punter Truett Burns, who averaged 38 yards per punt, as well as having a long punt of 61 yards on the year. His position is expected to be filled by sophomore Kyle Reighard, who punted once for 29 yards last season. They also lose, their top returner last season, Darius Hammond, who averaged 34 yards a return last season. The Buccaneers had 0 returns for a touchdown last season.
The Buccaneers are no pushover when it comes to their 2017 team, they also are nationally ranked in preseason FCS polls, and if Mississippi State has a repeat of last year’s premiere performance it could be a long day in Starkville. However, the talent level gap is incredible in this matchup, as well as coaching experience as the Bucs have a new head coach in Mark Tucker. Dan Mullen will not let a repeat of last year’s game against an inferior opponent, and that’s why I firmly believe this game will be over by the first quarter.
Score: Mississippi State 56 – Charleston Southern 14
How to Watch?
GAME TIME: 3:00 p.m. (Central Time)
TV: SEC NETWORK
RADIO: Mississippi State Radio
LIVE STATS: LIVE STATS