Another week, another nationally ranked opponent. The Charlotte 49ers pay a visit to #24 Charleston Southern this Saturday in a 1pm start at Buccaneer Field, the third ranked FCS foe they’ve faced this season and the third in a row in any division. The Buccaneers are coming off a loss to FBS opponent Colorado but have not been defeated in their seven FCS games thus far. Let’s go “Three Downs” with a writer that covers them for a living, The Post and Courier‘s David Shelton, and get his thoughts on the matchup.
1. The Buccaneers are 7-1 this year and ranked #24th in the coaches’ poll after a 5-6 showing last year. Did anyone see them having such a good start to their season?
I honestly don’t think even the coaching staff, if honest before the season, saw a 7-0 start to this season. This team still has some youth, the offensive line was very inexperienced, and a new coaching staff did not spell early success. I think most people felt they would lose to The Citadel and Appalachian State, so 7-0 was not in the thinking.
2. Who have had the biggest impact for the Bucs on the field this year?
I think the biggest impacts on the field have been junior college transfer Christian Reyes at running back; he gives CSU a physical inside runner and is just a yard from setting the single season rushing record, though he is a little banged up right now. Also, senior defensive end Will Hunt was having a great season before tearing his ACL two weeks ago.
3. How confident are fans that CSU can not only compete in a tough Big South conference, but make the playoffs now that it has been expanded to 24 teams?
Making the playoffs is still a tall order. The Bucs will not be favored in conference games against Gardner-Webb, Liberty and Coastal Carolina so they need a few upsets. I think the Big South can get two teams in the 24-team field this season so obviously CSU needs to finish second, which would mean two upsets in conference play. Injuries are starting to mount and this was not a deep team overall.