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Several SC schools have questions at QB
Fans of several of South Carolina’s Football Championship Subdivision teams may have to wait until their offenses take the field for the first time Saturday to learn who their starting quarterback will be for the first game.
Coaches at Coastal Carolina, Furman and Presbyterian have not decided who will take the first snap under center for their teams.
For the Paladins, quarterback isn’t the only place for newcomers. Coach Bruce Fowler will be on the sidelines for his first game since being hired by his alma mater, taking on Coastal Carolina.
“Any first game has just got some of those unknowns. You add to it a new coaching staff, a new head coach,” Fowler said. “Everything from pregame warm-ups, it’s the first time you’ve done that with them.”
In Saturday’s other games involving FCS teams, Presbyterian is at Wofford; The Citadel hosts Jacksonville; and Charleston Southern travels to Central Florida. South Carolina State lost 21-6 to Central Michigan on Thursday.
In Conway, Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett isn’t sure how he should prepare for Furman after the Paladins had their first losing season since 1998 and fired coach Bobby Lamb after nine years. Fowler left his job as assistant head coach at Vanderbilt to come to his alma mater.
Bennett said his Chanticleers, coming off a 6-6 season that included a Big South Conference title and second-ever FCS playoff bid, have been watching Furman film to gauge the talents of the Paladins players and Vanderbilt film to see what kind of schemes Fowler may have installed.
“Advantage for us, we’re at home,” Bennett said. “Advantage for Furman, they’ve got us on film for last year and we don’t have them on film for last year.”
Neither team has settled on a starting quarterback. Furman is choosing between Chris Forcier, the former UCLA transfer and brother of ex-Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier, and Dakota Derrick, who also started games last season. At Coastal Carolina, the choice is between Aramis Hillary, a junior transfer from South Carolina, and Jamie Childers, a senior recruited as a quarterback, who played tight end last season.
In Clinton, Presbyterian will play host to Wofford for the first time in 15 years.
The Blue Hose are playing their first season as a full member of Division I. A good model for the move might be the Terriers. Fifteen years ago, Wofford moved up from Division II and joined the Southern Conference, going 3-7 in its first season. Last year, Wofford finished 10-3, with their third SoCon title and fourth FCS playoff bid.
Presbyterian finished 2-9 last season, breaking a 20-game losing streak.
“We’ve got some kids that have played on some big stages, in big arenas and learned big lessons. You can tell they are maturing,” Blue Hose coach Harold Nichols said. “Hopefully that will see some positive results this fall.”
The Terriers bring back 15 starters from last year’s playoff team, including full back Eric Breitenstein and quarterback Mitch Allen. Wofford coach Mike Ayers said his team has had good practices this fall, but said he is always anxious to see how they will play on the field.
“You never know going in,” Ayers said. The Blue Hose “struggled last year, but they were able to come up with a couple of wins.”
In Charleston, The Citadel and Jacksonville may both be at a loss about how to prepare for the other.
The Bulldogs are in their second year of running the triple option offense, and coach Kevin Higgins couldn’t find any tape to help him prepare for the Dolphins.
“Jacksonville didn’t play any triple option teams last year so you are really guessing on what they are going to do,” Higgins said. “It makes you prepare for three different defenses.”
The Dolphins went 10-1 last year, while The Citadel was 3-8, but ended the season with their first Southern Conference win of the year over Samford, giving Higgins confidence in the six running backs he plans to rotate on the field Saturday.
“All six of those guys are capable of handling the football and making plays,” Higgins said.
In Orlando, Fla., Charleston Southern will take on UCF as the Buccaneers make Florida their September home away from home.
Charleston Southern’s first three games are in the Sunshine State. They play back-to-back against Football Bowl Subdivision teams, taking on Florida State after playing the Knights, who finished 11-3 last season, beating Georgia in the Liberty Bowl.
The money the school makes with its two FBS games is going toward new athletic buildings. Soon, every team Charleston Southern fields will have its own locker room for the first time, coach Jay Mills said.
Games against higher competition are important, because the Buccaneers have largely built their athletic programs “primarily on the shoulders of the football program,” Mills said.
The three games in Florida also serve as a learning tool — the team will tour NASA’s Kennedy Space Center — and a gift to the 47 Buccaneers players who come from the state.
“The majority of our players are from Florida, so it is attractive for them to play in front of some family and friends,” Mills said.
BY JEFFREY COLLINS, Houston Chronicle