TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After beginning the season in Orlando, the third-ranked Florida State football team returns to Tallahassee for its home opener. The Seminoles will face Charleston Southern, the No. 7 team in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Coaches Poll, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., inside Doak Campbell Stadium. Here’s a look at the names, numbers and notes you need to know before the Seminoles meet the Buccaneers.
No. 3 Florida State (1-0) vs. Charleston Southern (1-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Doak Campbell Stadium (79,560) in Tallahassee, Fla.
TV/Radio: Regional Sports Networks (Fox Sports Florida in Tallahassee)/Seminole IMG Radio Network (103.1 FM in Tallahassee)
Injury Report: Florida State – Questionable: DB Nate Andrews (leg), QB Sean Maguire (foot)
Out For Game: OL Kareem Are (concussion), OL Corey Martinez (knee), FB Freddie Stevenson (ankle), DT Darvin Taylor (shoulder), DE Adam Torres (leg)
Out Indefinitely: DE Keith Bryant (foot)
Out For Season: WR George Campbell (core muscle)
Charleston Southern Buccaneers
Coach: Jamey Chadwell (29-11 in four seasons at Charleston Southern, 52-32 overall)
Last game: CSU bounced back from an overtime loss against North Dakota State to beat Kentucky State 57-7. The Buccaneers amassed 405 total rushing yards.
Last game vs. Florida State: Florida State won its only meeting with Charleston Southern, 62-10, on Sept. 10, 2011. Quarterback EJ Manuel threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns in just two-plus quarters of work.
One offensive and defensive player from each team who could swing the game
CSU: Most teams have one “first-string” running back. The Buccaneers have three. Seniors Darius Hammond, Mike Holloway and Robinson have been a part of a three-headed monster for their entire careers, and each contributes to a rushing attack that averages nearly 300 yards per game. Robinson is a former standout at Tallahassee’s Lincoln High School.
Junior defensive lineman Anthony Ellis is perhaps the top player on a CSU defense that relies on a strong front seven. The preseason All-Big South selection has five tackles and a seven-yard sack so far this season.
FSU: Sophomore running back Jacques Patrick flashed some welcome speed and physicality during his brief action on Monday, and if Saturday’s game gets out of hand in the second half, he should be first in line for an increased workload.
Charleston Southern’s offense is based on misdirection and quickness, and lower-division teams often use some form of the option to help level the playing field against deeper, more athletic opponents. But FSU has a bit of a secret weapon in that regard, as linebacker Matthew Thomas has a unique ability to match both speed and size. It was perhaps most apparent early in the Ole Miss game, when he chased down a Rebels receiver from behind after a 36-yard gain. The play wasn’t positive for FSU, but not many linebackers have the type of speed to run down a receiver in the open field. Thomas should have his fingerprints all over this week’s game.
(Note: Charleston Southern rankings for Football Championship Subdivision)
Total offense: FSU: 580.0 YPG (15th nationally); CSU: 395.0 YPG (39th)
Scoring offense: FSU: 45.0 PPG (35th); CSU: 37.0 PPG (25th)
Passing offense: FSU: 419.0 YPG (10th); CSU: 108.0 YPG (93rd)
Rushing offense: FSU: 161.0 YPG (68th); CSU: 287.0 (10th)
Total defense: FSU: 380.9 YPG (78th); CSU: 282.5 YPG (24th)
Scoring defense: FSU: 34.0 PPG (101st); CSU: 15.5 PPG (26th)
Passing defense: FSU: 313.0 YPG (107th); CSU: 133.0 YPG (20th)
Rushing defense: FSU: 67.0 YPG (20th); CSU: 149.5 YPG (50th)
Number of note, courtesy of Pro Football Focus: Francois played a remarkably consistent game on Monday, regardless of whether he was pressured. His completion percentage when blitzed (63.6) was actually a little bit better than when not blitzed (63.4). If he keeps that up, he’ll be a challenge for opposing defenses, who could struggle to find how best to attack him – blitz or drop into coverage?
“Florida State is Florida State, but we’re going to go down there and play our game. We can’t be worried about who it is we’re playing.” – CSU safety Corbin Jackson
“You’ve got to be more disciplined. You’ve got to play your gaps. Because, the highlights I’ve seen, if you don’t play your gaps, they’ll be… running all day and night.” – FSU defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi on defending the CSU offense
“(Tuesday) was sleep, ate, slept, ate, slept. Woke up. Take a nap then I slept again. I slept all day yesterday.” – FSU defensive end DeMarcus Walker on the day after the Ole Miss game; FSU’s campus was closed Tuesday due to the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine.
If you’d like to get a feel for the Bucs under Chadwell’s tenure, here’s a handy video of the top-10 moments of his time at Charleston Southern: (Note, this video was produced prior to last year’s run to the FCS playoff semifinals.)
Bob Ferrante of the Osceola details Dalvin Cook’s contributions in the passing game against Ole Miss.
Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat says the Seminoles are the kings of comebacks in college football.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel believes that Deondre Francois has lived up to the ‘Famous Jameis’ hype.
David Shelton of the Charleston Post and Courier takes a look at CSU quarterback London Johnson, who will make his first start on Saturday.
Barring a virtually impossible string of bad fortune, Florida State will win this game and move to 2-0. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some compelling hurdles for the Seminoles to clear. After last week’s stumble out of the gate, a sharp, crisp first half — especially after a truncated week of practice —would be a welcome sight. So would signs of progress on the offensive line and on defense, particuarly if the Buccaneers move up-tempo. Keep in mind that this is FSU’s first and only tune-up before next week’s visit to Louisville, a game that will likely pit two top-15 teams against each other and shape the ACC Atlantic race for the rest of the season.