TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Charleston Southern is facing more than one daunting task against third-ranked Florida State on Saturday. Due to NCAA rules violation, the Buccaneers could have a severely diminished roster for the game.
School officials have not announced how many players are suspended, but running back Ben Robinson posted on his Facebook page that it could be “30-plus players.” The Tallahassee native is one of the suspended players.
The one-game suspension is for players using book money at the campus bookstore on other items, such as electronics, clothing or snacks.
Even with all of its players, Charleston Southern — a Football Championship Subdivision team — entered the game as huge underdogs against the Seminoles. The Buccaneers are 0-16 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams and have lost by an average of 52.5 points the four times they have faced a team ranked in the top 10.
Charleston Southern (1-1) which is ranked seventh in the latest FCS polls, is no stranger to playing championship programs. It opened the season with an overtime loss to defending FCS champion North Dakota State and last season faced top-ranked and eventual national champion Alabama.
Florida State likely won’t be tested this week as it was against No. 19 Mississippi on Monday in Orlando. But the Seminoles didn’t get back to campus until 5 a.m. on Tuesday after that marquee showdown
Coach Jimbo Fisher was not pleased with the lost practice time, particularly with games against Atlantic Coast Conference foes No. 13 Louisville and North Carolina in two of the next three weeks.
“It’s hard to get better and practice when you can’t practices,” Fisher said. “It’s not going to affect us on Saturday. You think in the long run, you like to take those weeks of trying to get better.”
In Fisher’s seven years as coach, Florida State has defeated the seven FCS teams it has faced by an average of nearly seven touchdowns (48.3 points). One of those was a 62-10 win over Charleston Southern five years ago.
Some things to look for as the Seminoles look to extend their home winning streak to 22 games:
FRANCOIS’ ENCORE? Deondre Francois passed for 420 yards last week, which was the most by a Seminoles’ quarterback in an opener. He is also the first freshman QB from an Atlantic Coast Conference school to throw for over 400 yards in his first game. Francois is also trying to become the first freshman quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in his first two games since Jared Goff at California in 2013.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: Florida State had five players with three or more receptions in the opener including running back Dalvin Cook, who set career highs for catches (six) and receiving yards (101). With Cook as an additional receiving threat that should draw more single coverage for receivers Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Seminoles’ defensive end DeMarcus Walker. The senior has 28 tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception and blocked kick in his last three games dating back to last season. He had 4.5 sacks against Ole Miss, which was a half-sack shy of tying the single-game school record.
NEXT MAN UP: Charleston Southern QB London Johnson will make his first collegiate start. The redshirt freshman played the second half of last Saturday’s 57-7 win over Kentucky State after Kyle Copeland (knee) and Shane Bucenell (leg) suffered injuries. Copeland, a junior, is out for the rest of the season. “You have to try to limit the things we do and find out what he can execute,” coach Jamey Chadwell said. “We have to build his confidence because he is going to be a big part of what we’re doing going forward.”
NEW LOOK DOAK: Saturday’s home opener will show off nearly $50 million in renovations to Doak Campbell Stadium. The project added the Champions Club and chair-back seating to the south end zone along with a new scoreboard in the north end. Florida State officials say the 122 feet wide by 62 feet tall scoreboard is the tallest in college football.