Thursday, August 25, 2016

North Dakota State Bison vs. Charleston Southern Buccaneers Preview

North Dakota State vs. Charleston Southern
FCS Kickoff
Saturday 8/26, 4:30 PM PST

North Dakota State Story Lines: NDSU is coming off of their record fifth consecutive FCS title, and are ranked number one in the nation opening the season in the STATS rankings. GOne is Carson Wentz at QB, but all is not lost, as Easton Stick returns as a sophomore after attempting 147 passes in 10 games last fall. Stick is the perfect guy to take over, as he was a big piece of the run the team had last fall when Wentz was hurt. He passed for 13 TDs and just 4 picks, so he is ready.
King Frazier is back at RB after rushing for 1158 yards last season. He really separated himself from the pack after NDSU largely used a committee early on. Bruce Anderson, Lance Dunn, and Chase Morlock all return as well.
There was balance among the receivers last season, and four of the top five receivers all return to help Stick in the passing game.
A weak spot for the Bison is in the kicking game, as Cam Pedersen connected on only 12/21 FGs last fall.
Defensively, look for NDSU to bring a physical front seven, while the secondary is more than capable of creating turnovers and making plays.

Charleston Southern Story Lines: CSU is a rising power in FCS football, and enters the season ranked 7th in the FCS STATS poll. Jamey Chadwell is a rising star in the coaching game, and could be elsewhere next season after a successful 2016.
The Buccaneers will need to identify a new QB after losing Austin Brown, and this environment will be a rough place to break in a new guy. Kyle Copeland will take the snaps under center after completing 31/52 passes in a backup role last fall. He did pass for five TDs, and tossed just one INT. The strength of the offense is in the run game in the read option offense, and the top three backs all return as seniors in Darius Hammond, Mike Holloway, and Ben Robinson. This group combined to rush for nearly 2000 yards combined last fall. No returning receiver caught more than 21 passes last fall, so the passing game could be suspect.
The strength of the defense is the back end, where the Bucs can absolutely create turnovers on INTs. They are an opportunistic unit that could give the Bison fits if they aren't careful.

My Pick: North Dakota State

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