CHARLESTON, SC - Charleston Southern took advantage of a cooler day on the turf on Saturday morning as the Bucs held their first scrimmage of the fall 2018 preseason camp. The Bucs faced off in a live-game environment for a majority of the mid-morning practice with both sides of the ball showing off strides made early in the preseason.
Head Coach Mark Tucker was pleased with the progress both sides of the ball have had over the first week leading up to the scrimmage.
"We had a great blend offense/defense today," Tucker said. "We've had our fair share of days offensively where we've come up short because of the strength of our defense, but we had a nice blend today. Offensively we got hit in the mouth some, but we also executed well at times. We put the ball in the end zone three or four times and kicked the ball well. We were able to get point production across the board with all groups."
The defensive side of the ball had the early advantage with Jonathan Earl scooping up a loose fumble and taking it into the end zone for a touchdown. The first team defense looked particularly strong early with Johnny Robinson, Solomon Brown, and Edward King flying to the ball and causing a trio of three-and-outs leading to punts.
"Our punter got a workout early," Tucker said. "We had really quality special teams work out there with Kyle (Reighard), Tyler (Tekac), and Ethan (Ray). The kids got after each other at the beginning and we were able to work on a few things with our specialists and get them into the swing of things. We had good competition for spots there with Alex (Usry) and Miller (Braddock) also in the mix for a few spots, so we're looking forward to that in camp."
The Bucs' offense rallied back over the next few drives with Tyler Tekac drilling a 47-yard field goal for their first score of the scrimmage period.
Jack Chambers showed off his elusiveness in the open field taking an option around the right side for one of the highlight plays of the day. He was pushed out of bounds at the 2-yard line to set up the first-and-goal. Two plays later, Adam Allen scored the offense's first touchdown of the day with a run up the middle.
Freshmen running backs Tyler Thomas and Markus Melvin added a second offensive touchdown prior to the halftime break. Thomas took the option pitch down the right side moving the ball deep into the defense's territory. Melvin added a tough run between the tackles and into the blue for his first touchdown of the preseason.
The final two drives of the scrimmage highlighted the explosiveness and playmaking ability on both sides of the ball. London Johnson found Saire Davis down the left sideline on a play-action fake for a 58-yard touchdown connection for the offense's final highlight of the day.
Freshman Damyjai Foster responded on the ensuing and final possession as the fleet-footed defensive back chased down an overthrown ball. The Spartanburg, S.C. native made a one-handed interception over the middle of the field to close out the scrimmage at Buccaneer Field.
Veteran offensive leaders Taz Lindsey and Ronnie Harris showcased their play-making ability on the offensive side with both recording long runs setting up field goal tries. Defensively, the defensive line with Solomon Brown, Johnny Robinson, and Shaundre Mims, as well as linebackers Edward King, Craig Johnson, and J.D. Sosebee, were front and center on a number of possessions in stopping the CSU offense.
Overall, Tucker was pleased with the scrimmage, but still noted a few things the team needed to work on over the next three weeks in their preparations for Florida on September 1.
"We got caught up in the pace of the scrimmage as it went on," Tucker said. "We need to speed up, get to the line of scrimmage and be ready to play. We have big play potential on both sides of the ball but need to continue to execute. Everybody got on the field and we had quality efforts from both sides. They got after each other, but more importantly, we got through the scrimmage healthy today."
CSU is back on the field Monday afternoon at 2:55 p.m. as they continue their fall preseason practice slate.