S.C. State redshirt sophomore receiver Quan Caldwell (82) looks to break a tackle in a home win against Johnson C. Smith on Sept. 16. Through five games, Caldwell leads all Bulldog receivers with two touchdowns on 18 receptions for 225 yards.


Fans don't often forget.

South Carolina State football fans, in particular, have been talking through five games this season about what might be holding back the Bulldogs on offense.

Heading into Saturday's 4 p.m. game in Daytona Beach, Fla. at Bethune-Cookman (2-3 overall, 1-1 in MEAC play), one question keeps popping up in emails, phone calls and across social media. Don't think S.C. State head coach Buddy Pough is oblivious to the conversation.

"Of course that's been the $65,000 question: Where's Moody?" Pough said at his weekly press conference on Monday.

In the final game last season, then-redshirt junior Mykal Moody started his only game to date as the Bulldogs' quarterback. The former Conway High star signal caller ran for three touchdowns and passed for another in the 28-7 home win against the Wildcats.

Before then, he was listed as a wide receiver and had just returned from an injury in Week 3 that season at Clemson. Since then, Moody has been listed as a defensive back and has been playing among the top four cornerbacks on the team.

"We wanted to spring that (putting Moody at quarterback) on them again, but he had some kind of shoulder deal in the weight room yesterday, and it looks like there's no way he could play quarterback for us at this time," Pough said. "I need (past Bulldog standouts) Malcolm Long and Will Ford back. With Long Ball, we could throw it around a little bit, and of course Will Ford is still the leading rusher in this place for a long time.

"We don't have quite that guy, or even quite that offensive front, actually, that we had when those guys were here. It's all about the ingredients; different groups do different things. That group was a special group. I think we are developing guys who could be those kinds of guys. But we don't have that kind of talent here right now."

However, while searching for big-play talent on offense, S.C. State (2-3 overall, 1-2 in MEAC play) found something this past Friday night in a 35-14 home win against Morgan State. That find wasn't necessarily in conjunction with dual-threat quarterbacks Dewann Ford Jr. and Tyrece Nick taking turns leading the offense.

"We've been looking for something that could give us a little bit of excitement in our offense, big-play-wise," Pough said. "Trey Samuel, our redshirt senior running back, hopefully we've got it figured out a little bit that he is a home-run hitter for us."

Samuel scored three touchdowns in the Oct. 6 game, gaining 169 yards (146 net) on 19 carries.

"This guy is a fast little motor scooter," Pough said of Samuel. "He had ACL surgery last year and it reminds you of those guys who have Tommy John surgery and suddenly pitch faster. I think he is faster now than he was before he had surgery. I've got to take my hat off to the folks at the USC School of Medicine for doing a great job with him.

"He's trying to get real big yards and we're going to try and slide his totals up here in the next couple games or so."

As the Bulldogs look to build momentum in a season that started with disappointment, opponents are cutting them no slack.

"We keep running into this bye week monster, where people have their bye week ahead of us and they get an extra week of practice and they come out in some strange kind of deals sometimes," Pough said. "We've had two of those already and Bethune-Cookman has the same deal heading into our game with them Saturday.

"It's a rival-type of game with Bethune-Cookman every time we play. Right now, Bethune is playing about like we are. This game is one where, year after year, it's a toss-up in our mind as to whether Bethune-Cookman or (N.C.) A&T is the most important. Those guys are always in the mix. (Larry) Brihm, (Jr.) their quarterback, looks like he is healthy this year. If he throws it around like he can, our defense will really have to play because they will test us. And defensively, they always seem to do a nice job against us."

With teams having thrown various defensive schemes and sets at the Bulldogs, Pough doesn't foresee any surprising opposition the rest of the season. That doesn't make his young offensive line any more experienced, but it helps in planning for what it might face.

"I really think now that we've seen the gamut of it all and we'll be better off because of it," Pough said. "I don't know what they can do differently that we haven't seen over time.

"We've seen all the three-front stuff, the four-front stuff and the blitz stuff. I think we'll be OK, except for the fact that our offensive line is still struggling. We just have to get the right pieces in the right places and get them coordinated to play together."

Bethune-Cookman is coming off its bye week after a 24-12 conference win at home, 24-12, against Savannah State on Sept. 30.


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