Bucs making progress

  • Sunday, August 24, 2014

Charleston Southern’s running backs and defensive line impressed once again in the team’s second scrimmage of fall camp on Aug. 16.

The Bucs now only have a few practices remaining prior to their Aug. 28 opener against Point University.

“I thought there was some significant improvement from our first scrimmage last Sunday,” CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Especially as far as guys knowing what to do as far as positions and assignments while still playing with great effort. Overall, it was a good performance in all phases and we’ve made some solid progress in these two weeks.”

Sophomore Ben Robinson continued an outstanding camp with 25 and 17-yard runs to lead the CSU rushing attack. Classmate Mike Holloway added a 12-yard touchdown run off an option pitch. Quarterbacks Danny Croghan III, Austin Brown and Kyle Copeland each led sustained drives behind a veteran offensive line that paved the way for the nation’s 17th ranked rushing offense in 2013.

Copeland accounted for some of the biggest plays in the passing game, with two 18-yard completions coming to redshirt junior receiver Nathan Perera. Perera, looking to return to his 2011 all-conference form after missing most of the last two seasons due to injury, looked strong. Freshman Jakob Salgado, one of a number of rookie receivers bidding for playing time, hauled in a 57-yard over the shoulder grab.

“Kyle has really shown some maturity in camp and still is working on eliminating the mistakes that can slow us down as an offense,” Chadwell said of Copeland. “The same is true of Austin, but he’s come around a good deal in picking up what we’re trying to do. Danny got back out there today and was a little rusty but also did some good things. Those three are still fighting it out and the competition has been good for us as a whole in camp.”

Defensively, Dylan Black, James Smith and freshman Mike Taylor highlighted a strong performance by the defensive line. Freshman linebacker Bobby Ruff, a local product from West Ashley High School, also made several plays with his speed in open space.

“Our defensive line has probably been the strongest spot on our defense throughout camp,” Chadwell said. “We’ve got a lot of experienced playmakers up there and are confident that they can lead the way as our back end continues to grow. Zac (Johnston) and Aaron (Brown) are doing a good job bringing the linebackers along, as well as Coach Wilson. Bobby Ruff really stood out with a few plays and the effort he gave today.”

On special teams, sophomore Truett Burns unleashed a couple of strong punts as he looks to build on a solid freshman campaign. In the kicking game, meanwhile, freshmen David Kennedy and Patrick Woods continued their competition for kickoff and field goal duties.

“Special teams is an area we have to continue to shore up but we’ve been happy with the effort a lot of our young guys are giving there,” Chadwell said. “As we get closer to the season, we’re just hoping for more of the same positive attitude we’ve seen so far, and better consistency.”

Charleston Southern held its first scrimmage of fall camp on Aug. 10 after waiting out heavy rainfall throughout the area earlier in the day.

The defense controlled much of the action, with a veteran defensive line and a mix of experienced and young linebackers wreaking havoc.

Chadwell was pleased that the weather subsided enough for the Bucs to scrimmage in concluding their opening week of practice in preparation for the 2014 season.

“I thought there was some really good competition on both sides of the ball, and positives to take away,” Chadwell said. “I was a little disappointed with the ball being on the ground a few times. It was wet and humid but that’s something we try to really emphasize is not turning the ball over. Our young guys got to get out of practice and into a game-type environment which is good for them. Productive overall, thankful we got it in because it gives us some good video to watch and learn from.”

The focus and intensity exhibited by CSU through the opening stages of camp has been a welcome sight for Chadwell and his staff as the Bucs look to build on a program-record 10-win season in 2013.

“I think attitude’s been a huge positive,” Chadwell said. “There’s an excitement and a maturity. There’s guys who know what we have to do to prepare and they have done a really good job of trying to lead the younger guys along.”

A defensive line headlined by Preseason All-Big South selections James Smith and Dylan Black led the way for the Bucs’ defense.

Senior Isaac Lowrance and sophomore Caleb Batchelor made several stops as well, while Zac Johnston, Jermichael Bailey and Demaris Freeman came up with several big hits from linebacker and safety, respectively.

Offensively, quarterbacks Austin Brown and Kyle Copeland each led scoring drives and narrowly missed on several other potential big plays in the passing game. Brown provided one of the highlights of the night with a touchdown pass to junior wideout Alex Cruz in the back corner of the end zone.

Steady play at quarterback will be a focus for CSU as camp continues.

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