The countdown is on for South Carolina's 2019 college football season. Today we look at in-state Charleston Southern, which the Gamecocks will face in their home opener in week 2 on Sept. 7.
Last year's record: 5-6
Last year vs. South Carolina - Did not play
Key losses - QB London Johnson, DE Solomon Brown, DT Johnny Robinson, DB James Allen.
Former Notre Dame running backs coach and all-time leading rusher Autry Denson takes over the Charleston Southern football program this season as the Gamecocks face their second school with a new head coach in as many weeks to kick off the 2019 season.
Denson's first order of business will be to fix an offense that finished last in the Big South last season in total offense and fourth (out of six teams) in scoring offense as it averaged just 251.1 yards and 21.2 points per game last year.
The Buccaneers will completely shake up that side of the ball. After throwing just 175 passes, compared with 417 rushing attempts last season, Denson plans to implement his new "Air Raid with attitude" offense to replace the option-based scheme.
While a physical running game, in theory, will still be a part of the Bucs' attack, Denson will base his passing game off the shotgun Air Raid principals that are prevalent throughout college football.
Charleston Southern was slightly better defensively last season (23.5 points allowed per game) than on offense, but they'll have to replace some of their best players, including FCS All-Americans DE Solomon Brown and DB James Allen, who had six interceptions last season.
Players to watch
QB Jack Chambers/Christian Reid - Last year's starting quarterback London Johnson transferred out to play his senior season elsewhere, leaving the Bucs with a new quarterback to run their new offense. Chambers is considered the early favorite as the starter, but each quarterback threw two touchdowns in the spring game, and they figure to battle it out this fall. Not only is it a new offense, but a polar opposite philosophy, which could make for some growing pains when CSU faces Carolina in week 2.
LB J.D. Sosebee, Sr. - The All-Big South Conference performer has been a tackling machine for Charleston Southern for the last two seasons, accumulating 72 last season and 81 tackles the year before. The senior, who will help lead their defense this season, has 191 career tackles, including 15 tackles-for-loss, and five fumble recoveries in 31 career games played.
DB Darin Smalls, Sr. - The former Gamecock and Summerville standout resurfaced at Charleston Southern, where he'll get the chance to play at Williams-Brice Stadium this year. Now a senior, Smalls missed the entire 2017 season with an injury and returned to play in nine games last year, collecting 13 tackles. Now fully healthy, Smalls should be in line to start in his final season.