A week ago, the South Carolina State Bulldogs were preparing for the home football opener on Saturday.
Fast forward to today, and they are doing the same thing.
The Sept. 9 game with Charleston Southern was postponed -- and now canceled -- due to the approach of Hurricane Irma. S.C. State head football coach Buddy Pough had to cut off practices last Thursday and let players head away from campus with classes closed down.
On Wednesday, he expected all Bulldogs back on campus to begin preparation for this Saturday’s 2 p.m. home game against Johnson C. Smith.
The Bulldogs are 0-1 after a 14-8 loss at Southern. The Golden Bulls are 0-2 after home losses to Wingate, 38-18, and Virginia State, 44-6.
“Hopefully we are going to play Saturday,” Pough said on Wednesday at his rescheduled weekly press conference. “The weather forecast looks good.
“We’re going to get on the practice field this afternoon and hit it hard for the next three days to get ready. It’s going to be hot Saturday, much like it was in the game at Southern. So, we’re going to try to get some good solid, conditioning work in to be ready for that.”
For the second consecutive season, a forecast storm forced a change in the game schedule for the Bulldogs. But if all goes as planned, S.C. State will play 2 games in a span of 6 days, and 3 games in a span of 15 days, beginning with Saturday’s home opener.
“At first, it looked like we would get the Charleston Southern game in, but then we’d be in trouble for Johnson C. Smith,” Pough said. “It just happened the opposite.”
With Charleston Southern having a different open date than S.C. State, there was a roadblock in the way of scheduling the game between the two teams once the postponement was official. Now, CSU has added a $500,000 payday game at Indiana (who lost a game due to the hurricane) on Oct. 7, so the Bucs have a full schedule and the Bulldogs don't.
With S.C. State calling around, looking to fill the schedule and not have two open weekends this season, the remaining options could include teams who also lost a game due to the hurricane. Of that group, only Arkansas State shares the same original open date as the Bulldogs, on Nov. 4. So, if an agreement between the Red Wolves can’t be worked out, it may be tough finding an available opponent to pencil in for an 11th game this season.
“We’ve had similar circumstances now for two years, and I don’t know that there’s a way to have a plan in place to work perfectly with these types of occurrences,” Pough said. “It’s a tough deal, but we think we’re OK.
“It’s early in the year; we haven’t played a conference game; and if we get through this game we need to work on doing the very best job of staying healthy. We want to get conditioned again, but not wear our legs out doing that. We’ve only played one game and we had a pretty clean injury report.”
Not going up against a challenging triple-option football team from a program that has won back-to-back conference titles, such as Charleston Southern, is disappointing for Pough and the Bulldogs. But, not having the two-time defending Big South champions coming to town has given the Bulldogs a chance to reflect on a loss and rest up for the next possible win.
A little more time on the practice field together should help build towards that result on Saturday, as the Bulldogs host the Golden Bulls and hold Youth/ROTC Day on Willie E. Jeffries Field inside Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.