After opening the season in Charlotte, the South Carolina Gamecocks head back to the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium to kick off their home slate with in-state FCS foe Charleston Southern. For the USC faithful, this is likely the only Saturday you can circle as an opportunity to catch some stress-free football — and yes, it’s coming in Week 2 of a long season. I am sorry to report that as much as you are likely sorry to be reading it, but hey, we’ll take it where we can get it.
Last meeting: This is the first matchup between the programs, and what a timely one it is! A little outfit called “Alabama” awaits the following week for the Gamecocks.
Last season: The Buccaneers, hailing from the Big South Conference, are coming off a 5-6 (3-2) season that netted them a third-place finish in their league. As an added kick in the pants, CSU was forced to vacate 18 football wins at the end of year — which included 2015’s Big South title — after running afoul of the NCAA. Can’t say they aren’t trying to run with the big dogs!
Player to watch out for: Four Bucs earned preseason All-Big South honors: linebacker J.D. Sosebee, offensive lineman Zack Evans, long snapper Ethan Ray, and punter Kyle Reighard (who was an honorable mention). Sosebee is the standout here, finishing sixth in the Big South last season in tackles per game (7.2), first in fumbles recovered (3), and fifth in tackles among linebackers. He also racked up double-digit tackles in four games for the Bucs last year.
Prognosis: This is the Bucs’ first year under new head coach Autry Denson, who was formerly the running backs coach at Notre Dame and will be installing an Air Raid offense. CSU was again tabbed for a third-place finish in the Big South’s preseason poll (although it did receive a first-place vote!). The Gamecocks should be able to empty the bench in this one — just try to hold on to that feeling.