COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The college football season opens in South Carolina this weekend with a couple of teams that have never played each other before.
Coastal Carolina heads to The Citadel on Saturday for a game between the Chanticleers, who made the Football Championship Division playoff quarterfinals a year ago, and the Bulldogs, who are adjusting to a first year coach and haven’t been to the playoff since 1992.
But Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia said he doesn’t read too much into last year’s results.
“Whether or not we are successful this Saturday is going to be a function of how well we have prepared and how well they have prepared and nothing else,” Moglia said.
In other games Saturday involving South Carolina’s FCS teams, South Carolina State plays Benedict in Columbia in the Palmetto Capital City Classic; Furman hosts Gardner-Webb; and Wofford travels to Georgia Tech.
On Thursday, Charleston Southern opened the season under its new lights with a 61-9 win over NAIA Point, while Presbyterian lost to Northern Illinois 55-3.
In Charleston, The Citadel is excited to play one of the best FCS teams in the state right off the bat, coach Mike Houston said.
“A great test for us to see just where we are at this time,” said Houston, who came to Charleston from Lenoir-Rhyne to take over for Kevin Higgins, now an assistant at Wake Forest.
Houston is keeping the Bulldogs’ triple-option offense, which should make the transition to his system a little simpler.
For the Chanticleers, it is about sustaining excellence. Coastal Carolina won the Big South Conference title and made it to the FCS quarterfinals, losing to eventual national champion North Dakota State.
Starting quarterback Alex Ross is back. The junior threw for 3,093 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season. He is considered a preseason candidate for the top FCS awards this season.
Moglia didn’t let Ross sit on his laurels during the offseason. He made him work with his position coach to make better decisions after the snap and shifting his targets based on the defense.
“That’s an example of not just telling everyone you’ve got to blindly get better. We worked on very specific things for each individual who was an experienced player from a year ago,” Moglia said.
Ross will have to fund some new help on offense, though. The Chanticleers lost four of their top five wide receivers and their top rusher from last season.
In Columbia, South Carolina State opens its season with a game against Division II Benedict that might be more difficult than it looks.