No. 25 Clemson (0-1) is seeking its first win of the 2023 regular season against Charleston Southern (1-0) at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Here is everything you need to know about the Buccaneers.
Dramatic Week 1 Win
Charleston Southern escaped a near-upset against Division II North Greenville in Week 1 with a 13-10 win in dramatic fashion.
North Greenville took over on offense with just under three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, down 13-10, and drove the ball 50 yards down the field- including a 4th & 27 conversion. With just seconds remaining and a chance to tie the game or take the lead from the Buccaneer three-yard line, an offsides penalty would end the game following a 10-second runoff.
Charleston Southern was held scoreless until the final seconds of the second quarter when K Sam Babbush cut the North Greenville lead to 10-3 with a 20-yard FG, and his 44-yard FG early in the 4th made it 10-6 in favor of the Crusaders. The eventual game-winning score for the Buccaneers came on a 3-yard TD run from Autavius Ison mid-way through the fourth.
CSU Offense Scouting Report
Charleston Southern’s offense returned eight starters this season after putting up an average of 20.7 points and 314 yards of total offense in 2022.
Former JUCO transfer and redshirt junior QB Tony Bartalo will be making his fifth career start on Saturday at Clemson after he took over mid-way through the Bucs’ Week 1 win over North Greenville, where he finished the game 5-12 for 95 YDS through the air and 4 YDS on five rushing attempts. Across seven appearances for the Buccaneers last season (4 starts), he totaled 671 YDS on 73-136 completions for 4 TD and 5 INT. His legs were a non-factor, totaling just 3 YDS on 39 rushing attempts.
The Buccaneers’ running back room is among the deepest position groups on the team, returning four major contributors from last year’s rushing attack. JD Moore is the clear leader of the group, and he opened up the season against North Greenville with 105 YDS on 17 ATT after going for 527 YDS and 6 TD on 86 CAR in 2022. TJ Ruff is a dynamic playmaker in both the running and passing game, having gone for 335 rushing YDS and 2 rushing TD and 25 RECs for 213 YDS and a TD a season ago. RB Autavius Ison is another featured back in the Bucs’ offense, and he recorded the team’s lone touchdown against North Greenville on a 3-yard run.
Jaden Scott (2 REC, 29 YDS) was Charleston Southern’s lone receiver with more than one reception in Week 1. Will Kakavitsas, Noah Jennings, and Fred Highsmith are all names to watch in the receiving game, but expect an exceptional performance from Clemson’s secondary against the Buccaneers’ unstable passing game.
Four starters return on an experienced offensive line group for the Buccaneers, including 3rd Team Big South center Ben Moxley, who was joined by Ronnie Hayes II, Darius Meeks, Lee Matthews, and Jacob Tylski as the starting five in Week 1. No changes are expected to be made heading into Saturday’s matchup, where the Tigers should dominate the trenches and keep QB Tony Bartolo under pressure all afternoon.
CSU Defense Scouting Report
Charleston Southern returned three starters from last season’s defense that gave up an average of 32.7 points and 442 yards of total offense per game.
DL Laron Davis and DE Darrius Bell led the defensive effort in Week 1 against North Greenville, totaling 9 tackles, 4 sacks, and an interception between the two.
The linebacker group remains one of the biggest question marks for the team after they lost a 1st Team Big South and 3rd Team Big South duo at the position from a season ago, though Joshua Hill, Shary Jefferson, Malik Barnes, and Bryce Llewellyn got the start in Week 1 and helped hold North Greenville to just 55 rushing YDS on 38 ATT.
North Greenville went for 236 yards (11.2 YDS/CMP) against Charleston Southern’s secondary, which ranked last in the Big South in pass defense efficiency in 2022, so expect Cade Klubnik and the Tigers to take a lot of shots down the field throughout the game on Saturday.