CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern takes the national stage on Friday when it squares off against top-seeded Jacksonville State on ESPN2 in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs. CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell addressed the media, along with seniors Aaron Brown and Nathan Perera, as the Bucs prepare for their elite eight matchup.
“We have a great opportunity and a great challenge before us, going to play the number one team in the country in the FCS,” Chadwell said. “They have a great team and deserve that number one ranking, but we feel good about where our team is and the preparation we’ve done in a short amount of time getting ready. We feel we can go down there and win the game. Our team’s got a great confidence about them and we’re looking forward to playing well and representing Charleston Southern and the Big South well.”
CSU earned a 14-6 win over The Citadel in its playoff debut last week thanks to a sterling defensive performance. The Bucs bottled up the Bulldogs’ triple option attack for the second time this year, forcing six turnovers while allowing only 199 yards on the ground and barely more than 3.6 per rush.
Jacksonville State is making its third straight playoff appearance, and put on an offensive exhibition to outlast Chattanooga, 41-35, in overtime last week. The Gamecocks rolled up 640 yards of offense to edge the Mocs for a second time this year. JSU quarterback Eli Jenkins accounted for over 400 yards of offense, and running back Troymaine Pope ran for 234 yards and three touchdowns.
“They’ve got a great quarterback that is pretty dynamic as both a runner and a passer, and they’ve got great skill around him,” Chadwell said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for our defense because they have so much more speed than what we saw last week, and some of the best speed you’ll see anywhere in FCS. So can our defense adjust to our speed and the different scheme, because you have to play such a different scheme versus our opponent last week? It’s a short week, and we gotta get back to trying to defend more normal stuff.”
Jacksonville State, which took Auburn to overtime before falling 27-20 back in September, is also stout defensively. The Gamecocks’ big and aggressive 3-4 attack ranks second nationally in tackles-for-loss, and tenth in total defense. CSU did enough offensively against The Citadel, but now will face likely the best defense it has seen at the FCS level this year.
“They’ve got some SEC transfers up front on their defensive line, and lots of good players at every position,” Chadwell said. “It’s the best defensive line that we’ve seen outside of Alabama. How are we able to control them and give ourselves a chance to run the ball and hopefully make some plays in the passing game? We need to play our game and execute to give ourselves a chance.”