When this 2014 season starts to head into the home stretch, the Georgia Bulldogs will take a deep breath after a playing 7 of it’s 8 SEC games in a run that begins with Tennessee in late September and ends with Auburn in late November.
The Charleston Southern Buccaneers are an FCS team that, hopefully, will give the Bulldogs a chance to heal and use a bit of extra practice time preparing for Paul Johnson’s hybrid option attack that they will face the following week.
Former ETSU QB Jamey Chadwell brought his spread attack to the Buccaneers, and it had an immediate effect on a team that had a combined record of 5-17 in it’s two seasons prior to his arrival. The Bucs put up a more than respectable record of 10-3 after reeling off 10 straight wins against its FCS brethren to begin the season.
That run included a home win against, eventual Big South co-champion and FCS quarterfinalist Coastal Carolina. Although the team ended the season with two losses, it finished with a winning conference record and a #22 national ranking in the FCS Coaches’ Poll. All of this after losing it’s starting senior QB, Malcolm Dixon, and having to turn to freshman, Daniel Crogan, midway through the season.
When the Buccaneers Have the Ball
In what the Dawgs hope will be a good “live scrimmage” type situation in preparation for Yellow Jackets the following week, they face a run heavy spread option type offense that led the nation in time of possession. Of 909 plays run from scrimmage by Charleston Southern in 2013, 640 of them were running plays (70.4%). That run heavy percentage allowed junior running back, Christian Reyes, to rack up 1254 yds on 245 carries (5.1) and, impressively, only have one fumble on the season.
Meanwhile, Mike Holloway, seems to be the “home run threat” type threat with a 10.5 per carry average (40 carries), while the team’s quarterbacks get the majority of the remaining carries in the option attack. It appears the passing attack is there to keep the opposing team’s safeties somewhat honest with 3 of the top 4 WRs having catches over 40 yards on the season. The entire starting offensive line returns and has a decidedly Georgia high school flavor, as 4 of the 5 starters hail from the Peach State.
When Georgia Has the Ball
There is bad news and good news for the Charleston Southern defense coming into the season. The bad news is that they lose four of the top six tacklers on what proved, for most of last year, to be a reasonably good defense.
Gone are the Buccaneers All-Big South first team defensive player, Calvin Bryant, and his 72 total tackles (8.5 for loss), as well as, All-Big South second teamer Elijah Lee and their leadership.
On the positive side of the ledger, they return two stalwarts of the defensive line, who earned all-conference second team honors at the end of last season in Dylan Black and James Smith, who especially seemed to thrive in Southern’s move to a more aggressive 3-4 Defense.
Also returning is second team All-Big South choice, Damaris Freeman. In his junior season, he led the team in tackles (90) from the safety position, after losing most of his 2012 season to injury. He will also be counted on to provide leadership to the back end of the Buc’s defense. Even with those talented players set to return, this may be a David and Goliath situation with the size and depth of the Dawgs OL, TE, and H-backs coming at a smaller less deep defense from an FCS school late into a season. The Buccaneers need to have a healthy campaign to have much of a chance of slowing the bigger, deeper Bulldogs.
Outlook for Game
Everyone talks about how these FCS games can be traps and teams will tend to overlook them. While Georgia doesn’t have the greatest history of performing at their best against lesser opponents, it would take a miracle for the Buccaneers to pull off a win in this game. If the season goes the way it should be going, Georgia wins this one running away by half time.