Weekend Preview: Bucs start homestand with Saturday night clash against Virginia Lynchburg

Weekend Preview: Bucs start homestand with Saturday night clash against Virginia Lynchburg

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern returns to start a three-game homestand this weekend at Buccaneer Field as CSU welcomes Virginia Lynchburg for Saturday night football on ESPN+. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. between the Bucs and the Dragons.

All game day information is available on the Game Day Central page.

CSU Notes | Big South Notes

Charleston Southern looks to get back on track this weekend as CSU hosts Virginia Lynchburg at Buccaneer Field on Saturday night. The Bucs are coming off a tough road loss to Savannah State this past weekend and enter the contest with a 1-3 record on the year with losses to Florida, Elon, and Savannah State

Saturday's game marks the second first-time opponent CSU faces in 2018. The Buccaneers previously took on Hampton for the first time in program history back on September 29. CSU topped the Pirates behind a strong defensive presence that forced five turnovers in the game, as well as a timely kickoff return for a touchdown in the CSU win.

Charleston Southern is back on familiar turf over the next three weekends as CSU hosts VUL, Presbyterian, and Kennesaw State at Buccaneer Field. The Bucs are coming off an early span of contests that featured three of the first four on the road. CSU boasted a 4-1 record at home in 2017 including wins in both Big South games.

Virginia Lynchburg has put together a successful season this year under first-year head coach Bobby Rome. The Dragons enter Saturday's contest having won two of their last three with victories over Brevard College and Fort Valley State, before falling to Benedict College this past weekend.

The Dragons are taking on four FCS opponents in 2018 having previously lost to Bethune-Cookman in the season opener, 79-16. VUL will take on CSU, Hampton (Oct. 27), and Delaware State (Nov. 17) over their final four weeks of the season.

It's the first meeting between the Buccaneers and the Dragons in their respective program's history.

Virginia Lynchburg is one of 14 NCCAA institutions to promote collegiate football.

VUL has been among the NCCAA's best in several categories this season. The Dragons are second in the nation in first downs allowed (73), second in kickoff return average (25.9), and third in net punting (33.4). VUL has also stood out defensively finishing second in third down defense (0.256) on the year.

Elijah Stewart leads VUL's offensive efforts on the season. The quarterback has recorded 452 passing yards and four touchdowns on the season while sitting second on the team with 37 rushing attempts.

To'mas Newman is the rushing leader on the team sitting just outside the top 10 in the NCCAA in the category on the season. Newman is averaging 3.5 yards per carry and 37.8 yards per game on the ground.

Johnny Rembert leads the team's receiving efforts with 13 catches for 245 yards and a trio of scores on the year.

Defensively, VUL has combined for six sacks and has seven players with multiple tackles for loss on the season.

Charleston Southern was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time this past weekend in the loss to Savannah State. It marked the first time CSU rushed for under 220 yards and the first time this season CSU did not have a player record a run for 60-plus yards in the game. The Buccaneers were limited to 33 yards on 34 carries and look to bounce back against an opponent that has been successful at limiting the opposition this season. VUL enters the contest allowing 3.7 yards per carry and 144.8 rushing yards per game on the year. CSU will look to make strides behind the trio of London Johnson, Ronnie Harris, and Terrence Wilson to regain their place among the FCS' elite after slipping to 43rd overall in rushing per game (179.8 ypg).

Charleston Southern's passing game continues to grow after the Buccaneers hit 90 yards for the second consecutive game. London Johnson went 7-of-14 through the air this past weekend against Savannah State for 61 yards to pace the Bucs. For the season, the redshirt junior has posted 152 passing yards and a 39.6% completion percentage on the year to go with a pair of touchdowns. Jack Chambers has also seen time at quarterback for the Bucs this year with the redshirt freshman posting 38 yards over three games.

With Charleston Southern's receiving corps battling through injuries this season, redshirt senior Kenny Dinkins has taken on the role of the lead receiver through the first four games of the season. The Lawtey, Fla. native posted a team-high 64 yards on four catches this past weekend against Savannah State. The marks were season-highs for the Bucs' receiving group. Dinkins leads the Bucs on the year with six catches for 78 yards, including a season-high 32-yard reception in the fourth quarter against Savannah State. He has been among the Bucs' receiving leaders in each of his four seasons lining up at CSU and has posted one career 100-yard receiving effort.

Charleston Southern's offensive efforts have continued to be hampered by turnovers this season. The Buccaneers have coughed the ball up 11 times over the first four games on the year. Opponents have been able to recover five fumbles and have taken advantage of six interceptions on the season and have turned CSU's miscues into points the other way. Overall, opponents have turned CSU turnovers into 48 points this season and have swung the tide in the Bucs' games against Elon and Savannah State. The Bucs are currently 104th overall in turnover margin on the season at -1.00 per game.

Charleston Southern's offensive line struggled this past weekend against Savannah State and the group will look to bounce back against Virginia Lynchburg on Saturday evening. The Buccaneers surrendered a season-high six sacks and nine tackles for loss in the contest against the Tigers and struggled to stay on the field at times with multiple three-and-outs in the contest. CSU's veteran group on the offensive line will look to bounce back this weekend with redshirt seniors Joe Gold, Gage Bostwick, and Stephen Haralambis leading the way, as well as redshirt junior Brackin Smith as the Bucs will look to rule the trenches against the Dragons.

Redshirt junior quarterback London Johnson has been among the Big South's best with the ball in his hands this season. Johnson enters the weekend seventh in the Big South in rushing yards per game (57.2), fourth in yards per rush (5.2), and seventh in rushing touchdowns (3). His ability to keep the ball alive in the pocket has also helped the Bucs in the passing game as the junior recorded his second career multi-touchdown passing effort at CSU against Hampton.

Five. That's the turnover mark Charleston Southern's vaunted "Blue Swarm" defense recorded this past weekend against Hampton. After recording only one turnover, a fumble recovery against Elon, over the first two games, the Bucs got back on track on Saturday afternoon. CSU forced turnovers on each of Hampton's first two possessions and added three more in the contest to post the most forced turnovers in a game since taking on Presbyterian back in the 2009 season. CSU recorded four forced fumbles for the fifth time in CSU history and James Allen's pick-six was the first since Sekwan Jenkins returned an interception last season against Mississippi Valley State.

Charleston Southern's senior-laden defensive backs have been active already in 2018 with the quartet of Shadarius Hopkins, Brandon Rowland, James Allen, and Jonathan Slaton combining for 13 pass breakups for the season. Slaton posted a career-high three pass breakups in the opener against Florida. This past weekend against Hampton, Allen matched Slaton's total and added CSU's first interception of the season. Allen currently leads the Big South in passes defended on the season with 2.0 per game, while Slaton and Brandon Rowland are currently tied for fifth overall with 0.75 per game. Allen and Rowland have both of CSU's interceptions on the year in each of the past two games.

Charleston Southern's defensive backfield has been among the nation's best this year through the air. The Bucs enter Saturday's contest against Virginia Lynchburg first in FCS allowing only 127.5 yards through the air. James Allen is currently ranked third in FCS in passes defended per game at 2.0. CSU has currently allowed just 49 combined passing yards over the past two games. Hampton threw for 38 yards in the 48-14 CSU win two weeks ago. The Bucs limited Savannah State to just 11 yards on 1-of-7 passing for the game in the CSU loss. The play of CSU's senior crew has been noted with Shadarius Hopkins (8.3) and Brandon Rowland (6.0) both sitting among the top four tacklers on the team this season.

J.D. Sosebee continues to live up to his preseason All-Conference billing as the redshirt junior linebacker posted his third consecutive double-digit tackle effort of the season against Savannah State. Sosebee has led the team in tackling in each of the last three contests including a season-high 13 this past weekend against Savannah State. The week prior he posted 10 tackles against the Pirates and added 0.5 sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery in the 48-14 win over Hampton. This followed his 10-tackle contest against Elon last weekend. Sosebee currently leads the Bucs with 9.2 tackles per game on the season and is fourth among conference linebackers in the category.

Solomon Brown had a game for the ages this past weekend as the redshirt senior defensive lineman recorded a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss against Savannah State. Brown took over the Big South Conference's tackles for loss lead following his career day against Savannah State on Saturday night. Nine of his 11 tackles and 3.5 of his tackles for loss came in the second half as Charleston Southern attempted to battle its way back into the game against the Tigers. The redshirt senior BUC became just the fifth player in Big South history to achieve 40.0 career tackles for loss in the contest. He currently leads all Big South defensive linemen with 7.0 tackles per game on the year, tied for seventh overall in the conference.

Senior safety Brandon Rowland has utilized his athleticism over the last few weeks to become a mainstay at the top of CSU's defensive unit. The Irmo, S.C. native enters Saturday coming off a game where he posted five tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception, and his first blocked kick of the season. Rowland currently is fourth on the team with 6.0 tackles per game this season and has recorded a tackle for loss in each of the last two games. He added a fumble recovery in the win over Hampton, while his interception against Savannah State stalled a Tiger drive deep in CSU territory. His blocked field goal was CSU's first of the season and kept the game within striking distance in the fourth quarter.

Charleston Southern redshirt senior safety Shadarius Hopkins was named the Big South Conference Football Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Elon. The weekly accolade was the first of the Winnsboro, S.C. native's career and CSU's first weekly honor of 2018. Hopkins paced CSU's defensive efforts in the 31-22 loss to Elon on Saturday evening at Buccaneer Field. Hopkins established new career highs in both total tackles (16) and solo tackles (10) in the losing effort. His totals marked the second time a Big South player eclipsed double-digit solo stops this season, while his 16 tackles tied for the Big South's top mark this year with Gardner-Webb's Corey Horne (Sept. 14 vs. Western Carolina).

Charleston Southern redshirt junior punter Kyle Reighard was named as the Big South Football Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday afternoon as announced by the conference office. The weekly accolade was the second of the Salem, Va. native's career and the second consecutive week Charleston Southern has won the weekly accolade. James Allen received Special Teams Player of the Week honors last week against Hampton following his 80-yard kickoff return for the score. Reighard averaged 46.8 yards on five punts with three inside the 20-yard line and held the nation's leading punt return team (30.25 average) without a return yard in the contest.  Each punt traveled at least 40 yards, and his long of 59 pinned Savannah State at its own 3-yard line.

Tyler Tekac connected on his second field goal of the season this past weekend to put CSU's points on the board against Savannah State. The senior placekicker drilled a 35-yard attempt through the uprights to cut into the SSU lead prior to halftime. Tekac is 9-for-13 overall in his attempts this season after struggling in each of his first three contests. Tekac enters the weekend contest with 165 career points and is third in multiple all-time leading kicking categories heading into Saturday against Virginia Lynchburg.

CSU was waiting for a breakout game from their standout return man this season, the senior wide receiver Taz Lindsey delivered against Hampton. Although fellow senior returner James Allen received conference Player of the Week accolades following his 80-yard touchdown return, Lindsey put together a strong campaign of his own against the Pirates. The Augusta, Ga. native posted five punt returns for 90 yards and added a 22.5 return average over his first two kickoff return attempts. Lindsey almost provided the statement of the game on the opening kickoff with a 91-yard return down to the HU five-yard line, but the play was called back due to penalty. The Big South Preseason Punt Returner will look to continue his strong season this weekend against a Savannah State team allowing 24.0 yards per punt return on the year.