|« Another winning record not enough anymore for Chattanooga||Blue Hose look to better last year's 2-9 mark »|
Charleston Southern hopes early Sunshine State games help Bucs prepare for Big South play
Charleston Southern coach Jay Mills knows how tough his team’s early schedule with be with games at Central Florida, Florida State and Jacksonville.
“I believe that last one’s to play the Jaguars,” Mills joked.
No, the Buccaneers won’t have to play against the Jacksonville’s NFL club. Instead, they’ll play against their first Football Bowl Subdivision opponent as they try and rebound from a 3-8 season in 2010.
Facing UCF and Florida State gives his players, several who are from the Sunshine State, the chance to measure themselves against those who they played against in high school or knew from going to camps through the years, Mills said.
He says if they make it through those FBS contests, “there’s not much more tougher things they’ll see during the regular season.”
Mills knows Charleston Southern has work ahead if it hopes to take significant steps forward this season.
The Bucs won only one conference game and dropped their season finale, 70-3, to Coastal Carolina. By the time the year ended, Charleston Southern true freshman Malcolm Dixon was the team’s starting quarterback.
Charleston Southern was a good team the first part of the year and led FCS playoff team Wofford with nine minutes left before falling 34-23, he said.
Circumstances forced Mills to use many younger, inexperienced players as the year progressed.
“Now, with those players having played, we should be ahead of the curve somewhat,” he said.
Particularly on defense, where the Buccaneers finished last in the Big South Conference. Cornerback Charles James had six interceptions a year ago and should be the marquee player on defense for the Bucs.
James strength is his preparation.
“I know I’m not one of the fastest” defensive backs, he said. “But I know how to mentally sound, studying film and studying what opponents do.”
Dixon is expected to get the nod at quarterback. He threw just 27 passes over six games, but completed 21 of them — four for touchdowns. He’ll play behind an offensive line that features an all-Big South preseason first-teammer in Levi McFatter.
By PETE IACOBELLI, Greenfield Daily Reporter