HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … South Carolina State.
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE (3-7)
The MEAC (Tied for 8th in MEAC)
COACH: Buddy Pough – 17th year (120-64)
2017 OFFENSE: 20.5 ppg (88th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 18.8 ppg (19th in FCS)
SUM IT UP: This defense was one of the best in the business last year, and while it did lose All World (and NFL Draft pick) Darius Leonard, there is some serious talent intact — especially on the defensive line. That's a key starting point for the Bulldogs, who were a bit perplexing last year. S.C. State played the top four MEAC schools very tough, but lost games to teams it easily should have put away in 2017. In fact, five of its seven losses were by 8 points or less — that's how close this team came to being in the championship discussion.
So what does that mean for 2018? Well, with 14 starters returning, one has to think that returnee stat — combined with the sour experience of losing so many close ones last year — could propel this Bulldogs' team to the upper echelon of the MEAC. But we also need to see how much losing your heart and soul player (Leonard) affects things in the lineup. Also, some offensive weapons need to emerge this year.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: The Bulldogs may be the biggest question mark in the MEAC this year. This team could be a top three type program, or could slide to the bottom half if the loss of Leonard et al hurts more than we know. That leaves S.C. State as a team that has "wide swath potential" in terms of predictions. I'll say the ceiling is 7 wins if this team continues to hunker down on defense and finds some offensive playmakers, but the bottom could be four or five wins if things just don't click.
TOP RETURNEE: DB Damu Ford (2nd Team Preseason All MEAC – 6.5 TFLs, 4 hurries)
THE NEXT BEST: OL Kendrick Hair (2nd Team Preseason All MEAC); OL Robbie Stephenson (3rd Team Preseason All MEAC); DB Kendric Gathers (3rd Team Preseason All MEAC – 34 tackles, 6 PBUs); DB Alex Brown (3rd Team Preseason All MEAC – 3 INTs, 1 PBUs); DB Cliff Benjamin (3rd Team Preseason All MEAC); RB Labron Morris (a top returning rusher); DL Paul McKeiver (5.5 TFLs, 4 hurries).
TOP NEWCOMER: QB Corey Fields (5,000+ total yards, 65 total touchdowns in HS)
DID YOU KNOW?: Three NFL Hall of Famers played football at South Carolina State – Harry Carson, Deacon "Too Tall" Jones and Marion Motley. Jones and Motley only played one year apiece with the Bulldogs before moving on to other colleges. Carson was taken in the 4th round in the 1976 NFL Draft and played on the Super Bowl XXI championship team – the New York Giants. He was a 9-time Pro Bowler at linebacker.
THE QUOTE: "We all know its a sense of urgency in winning at this point. The first thing we needed to do was have some players that wouldn't take long to develop and that's willing to work hard during the process." — coach Buddy Pough said on national signing day
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #WeAreSCState
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @SCStateAthletic
Six Bulldogs Earn All-MEAC Preseason Honors; SC State Picked 7th https://t.co/AC2IBufgCe
— SC State Bulldogs (@SCStateAthletic) July 27, 2018
FCS QB TRANSFERS: Who Tops The List?
THE REST OF THE MEAC