Charleston Southern ready for rematch with Citadel in FCS playoffs

Special to The Post and Courier
Dec 2 2015

Amidst all the talk about a perceived lack of respect and seating issues for Saturday’s FCS playoff game between The Citadel and Charleston Southern, there is indeed a football game to be played at Buccaneer Field. Charleston Southern (9-2) will host The Citadel at 1 p.m. in the Buccaneers’ first-ever playoff game. The visiting Bulldogs bring with them a 9-3 record that includes an upset at South Carolina and a first-round playoff victory at Coastal Carolina in the past two weeks.

CSU has won the last three meetings with The Citadel, including a 33-20 victory at Johnson Hagood Stadium in September. After that victory, CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell raised the ire of many Bulldogs’ fans when he indicated that his program feeds off a lack of respect from its downtown rival.

Earlier this week, Chadwell reiterated, but also clarified, his thoughts. “I believe wholeheartedly that the majority of their people — their football staff, their players, many in their athletic department — respect what we’re trying to do here at CSU,” said Chadwell, who is 27-9 in three seasons at CSU. “There also are a lot of people who have a perception of CSU that may not be entirely accurate and they certainly don’t respect who we are and what we are about. “Maybe they feel they are above us, but I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t think their football staff or their players believe that. And we have always respected their football program as an opponent, as a rival. I’m not apologizing for saying what I said because I believe it.”

Chadwell admits the Bucs’ opponent on Saturday, while wearing the same colors and putting the same personnel on the field, is much different from the team they beat in September. The Citadel, in a sense, has been in playoff-type games for the last three weeks, including a game with Chattanooga to decide the Southern Conference championship. “They are executing better. Their young guys in September are not young now,” Chadwell said. “They are obviously a better team than they were two months ago, and I think we are too. Our young guys also have grown up a lot over two months.

“Where they might have an edge is the experience gained over the last few weeks. The moment (Saturday) will not be too big for them. For our guys, the only experience close to Saturday was a high school playoff game. We have to make sure we don’t get caught up in the moment, and we need to start fast.”

On film, Chadwell sees a Citadel offense that is executing at a high level and not turning the ball over. He says the defense is playing fast and aggressive and has been opportunistic. The Citadel and CSU, he says, are basically even in terms of talent so turnovers could again be the deciding factor. The Citadel forced four turnovers in last week’s win over Coastal Carolina.

“They are beating teams because they are not turning the ball over and the other teams are, which is how you win these games of this magnitude,” he said. “We know how good they are playing and we know they are playing with great confidence. We cannot give them extra possessions and more opportunities offensively to eat the clock and control the tempo of the game. “It’s a relatively even battle. We may have a little advantage in one area but they may have one in another. When two teams are evenly matched, so to speak, the turnovers usually dictate who wins the game.”

Chadwell said he believes CSU will enter the game as the underdog despite playing at home. “I would assume we are the underdogs on Saturday,” he said. “Based on who they have beaten in the last two weeks, most smart people probably see them as the favorite. That’s okay too. We will show up and play hard and see where it all falls in the end.”


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