HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs from June 17 to August 6. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 12-15. Today, we present … South Carolina State.
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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SOUTH CAROLINA STATE (5-6 IN 2018)
The MEAC (SCSU was Tied for 4th in 2018)
COACH: Buddy Pough – At School: 18th year (125-71-0 record) Overall: Same
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: 2013 (lost first round of FCS playoffs to Furman)
2018 OFFENSE: 19.5 ppg (104th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 24.4 ppg. (35th in FCS)
KEY GAME: Oct. 12 vs. Florida A&M: S.C. State likely will come into this MEAC home opener with a 2-2 record, but this is where the real challenges begin. The Rattlers should be one of the top programs in the MEAC once again, but that didn't scare the Bulldogs last year when they smacked FAMU around in Tallahassee. This will tell S.C. State where it stands against the elite teams of the MEAC. This is a statement game.
SUM IT UP: The MEAC may have voted S.C. State No. 6 in the league in the preseason, but the Bulldogs may have more in the tank than that. It all starts with slippery quarterback Tyrece Nick, who pulled off that feat most QBs dream of when he had a 1,000-1,000 season — passing for 1,000 yards and gaining 1,000 rushing yards (yes, with sacks included, he was actually under 1,000, but he was dangerous nonetheless). Nick will need to be slippery again to erase the memories of last year's offensive struggles when the team didn't hit the 20 points per game mark. The run game was decent and there are some solid linemen returning, so that's something to build off of.
On defense, the Bulldogs weren't too shabby — even after losing NFL rookie star Darius Leonard to the 2018 NFL Draft. They had a Top 20 defense nationally against the pass and were stingy in the red zone. Both are things to build off of. There is a decent contingent back on 'D' to build on, and if the offense can turn up the heat a bit, this will be a competitive program in the MEAC this fall. Look for the defensive line to be especially strong in 2019.
OUR TAKE: You never know quite what to make of the Bulldogs. Case in point — at one point last year this program had knocked off four straight MEAC opponents, including league front-runners like Howard and FAMU on the road. That showed the potential in the program. So here's our prediction — S.C. State may not win the MEAC, but it'll be a factor in the title race, and it will undoubtedly throw a wrench into the league machinery and ruin somebody's day this fall.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./OC Mike Terry (2nd Team All MEAC in 2018)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./DL Paul McKeiver (3rd Team All MEAC in 2018); Sr./OL Alex Taylor (3rd Team All MEAC in 2018); Sr./DL Tyrell Goodwin (2nd Team Preseason MEAC); Jr./QB Tyrece Nick (1,163 yards passing, 4 TDs; 1,078 yards gained rushing, 12 TDs; Third Team Preseason MEAC); Sr./DL Bruce Johnson (Third Team Preseason MEAC); Soph./DB Decobie Durant (Third Team Preseason MEAC).
TOP NEWCOMER: Jr./DB Vernon Grier (N.C. State transfer who was a 3-star prospect coming out of high school)
THE QUOTE: "We return a veteran team and bring back some players that we look forward to having an All-MEAC year for us this season. The offense and defense should be solid on both ends, but more importantly we have some guys sitting out (in the spring, due to nagging injuries) who can really help this football team." — Head Coach Buddy Pough told the Orangeburg Times and Democrat this spring
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's S.C. State Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The MEAC
SUBSCRIBE: HERO Sports FCS Podcast