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Big South Opponent Previews: Charleston Southern
As Liberty's 2011 Football Training Camp nears its end and University classes begin,
LibertyFlames.com continues its Big South opponent previews.
During today's Big South opponent preview, LibertyFlames.com takes a look at Charleston Southern, the second Big South foe Liberty will face on the road during a three-week stretch in October. The Flames will make the trek to Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 22.
During the month of August, LibertyFlames.com will release a brief look at each of Liberty's six Big South foes. The half-dozen opponents stand between the Flames and an unprecedented fifth-straight Big South Conference title.
Each preview will include a short write up about Liberty's conference opponents, opponent quick facts, plus links to recent match-ups with each opponent. In addition, each preview will include an audio clip from the Flames Sports Network, which will feature an interview with the opposing head coach and a key returning player, plus head coach Danny Rocco's thoughts on the upcoming match-up.
Today, LibertyFlames.com continues the series by looking at the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, a team that was predicted to finish fourth in this year's annual Big South preseason poll, sharing the fourth-place spot with Gardner-Webb.
2011 Big South Preseason Football:
1. Liberty (15) – 123
2. Stony Brook (2) – 104
3. Coastal Carolina (1) – 96
4. Charleston Southern – 59 (one third-place vote, five fourth-place votes, 10 fifth-place votes, two sixth-place votes)
4. Gardner-Webb – 59 – GWU Preview
6. VMI – 42 – VMI Preview
7. Presbyterian College – 21 – PC Preview
The Buccaneers will be looking to rebound in 2011 after finishing the 2010 season with a 3-8 record, only the second losing season in the last six years at Charleston Southern.
Charleston Southern started the year off strong, winning two of its first three games and going head-to-head with Wofford. However, a lengthy trip to the "Big Island" to face Hawaii, a team they lost to by a 66-7 score, started a string of six-straight losses. The only remaining win on the Buccaneers' slate in 2010 was a three-point victory over Presbyterian College at home, one where Charleston Southern needed to hold off a late rally from the Blue Hose.
If Charleston Southern is going to turn things around in 2011, the Buccaneers will have to do so with some fresh new faces. The Buccaneers return 12 starters from 2010, the fewest returning starters of any team in the Big South Conference this season.
The Buccaneers will have all new starters at their offensive skill positions, with Charleston Southern's four returning offensive starters all coming on its offensive line. The biggest offensive loss for the Buccaneers will be at wide receiver with the graduation of first-team all-conference member and Phil Steele fourth-team All-American Gerald Stevenson. He ranked second in the Big South to Liberty's first-team All-America wide receiver Chris Summers (1,081 yards and 15 touchdowns), as Stevenson capped off his stellar career at Charleston Southern with 777 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Three of Charleston Southern's four returning starters on the offensive line will be seniors (B.J. Baker, Levi McFatter and Kayson Wharton), but the group will need to show improvement in 2011. Last year, the Buccaneers only rushed for 1,143 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games.
The Buccaneers' most experienced group is found on the defensive side of the field, with Charleston Southern bringing back seven starters from 2010.
Leading the way will be first-team Big South honoree and second-team AP All-American Charles James. The defensive back finished last year tied for the Big South lead with six interceptions and led the league with 11 pass breakups and 17 passes defended.
For the second-consecutive season, Charleston Southern will square off against two FBS opponents in the same season, this time around doing so in back-to-back weeks. The Buccaneers will open 2011 against UCF on Sept. 3, followed by a return trip to the "Sunshine State" the next week on Sept. 10 to take on ACC foe Florida State.
Liberty will look to make it six in a row against Charleston Southern when the Flames travel to Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 22, the Buccaneers' first of three home Big South games in 2011.
Liberty is 16-2 all-time against Charleston Southern and is a perfect 5-0 under head coach Danny Rocco when facing the Buccaneers (winning by an average margin of 25.4 points during those five contests).
In 2010, Liberty scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns to open a tight contest, helping the Flames eventually roll to a 44-20 Homecoming victory on Oct. 9. Walter Payton Award candidate Mike Brown was the offensive star of the game, rushing for 93 yards and two scores and throwing for 310 yards and three additional touchdowns (20-of-33).
The last time the Flames made the trip to the "Palmetto State" to face Charleston Southern, Liberty needed to fend off a late rally from the Buccaneers to hold on for a 20-13 victory on Oct. 24, 2009. Brown completed a six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Will Quarles with six minutes left and then Liberty had a red zone defensive stop with the clocking winding down to claim the seven-point victory.
Oct. 22, 2011 (1:30 p.m.)
CSU Stadium (4,000)
Location: Charleston, S.C.
Colors: Navy Blue and Gold
Conference: Big South
Stadium: CSU Stadium (4,000)
Surface: Natural Grass
President: Dr. Jairy C. Hunter, Jr.
Athletic Director: Hank Small
Head Coach: Jay Mills (Western Washington, '84)
Record at School: 43-46 (Eight Years)
Career Record: 46-67 (10 Years)
Patrick Nix - Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers
Thielen Smith - Defensive Coordinator
Gabe Giardina - Running Backs and Special Teams Coordinator
Clayton Coffman – Tight Ends
RaShan Frost - Defensive Line
Chuck Kelly - Offensive Line
Marcus Woodson - Defensive Backs
PLAYER & TEAM INFORMATION
2010 Record: 3-8
Conference Record/Finish: 1-5/t-6th
Offensive Formation: Multiple
Defensive Formation: 3-5-3
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 31/21
Starters Returning/Lost: 12/13
Offensive/Defensive Starters Returning: 4/7
Offensive Starters Returning: B.J. Baker (OL), Levi McFatter (OL), James Nicholson (OL), Kayson Wharton (OL)
Defensive Starters Returning: Jacque Carter (DL), Daniel Dieudonne (DB), Will Hunt (DL), Charles James (DB), Chris Kuzdale (DB), Cornelius Sterling (LB), Brad Sweatt (LB)
RELATED MATCH-UP LINKS:
Oct. 9, 2010: Liberty won, 44-20 – Recap – Box Score
Last Meeting on the Road:
Oct. 24, 2009: Liberty won, 20-13 – Recap – Box Score
Athletics Web Site
Photo Gallery - Liberty vs. Charleston Southern - Oct. 9, 2010:
Charleston Southern Head Coach Jay Mills, at Big South Football Media Day:
Big South Conference Preview Video Package, featuring Charleston Southern: