COLUMBIA, South Carolina — After a 63-point opening week win and a 66-point loss a week ago, South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough thinks he can finally get a handle on what his team is truly like Saturday at Coastal Carolina.
"I feel like we are somewhere in between the two, for sure. We definitely aren't as good as we thought we were the first week. But I'm hoping we aren't as bad as we saw," Pough said.
In other games Saturday involving South Carolina's Football Championship Subdivision teams, Furman travels to Presbyterian; and Wofford hosts North Greenville. On Thursday, Charleston Southern beat Campbell 34-10.
In Conway, Coastal Carolina (2-0) opens at home, and Chanticleers coach Joe Moglia isn't sure what to expect from South Carolina State (1-1) after its roller coaster start to the season.
"It's hard to get a real good read on them," Moglia said.
The biggest area of concern for Moglia is the Bulldogs running game. Coastal Carolina is allowing more than 296 yards on the ground a game to rank 105th out of 113 FCS teams. South Carolina State wants to run the ball, and if they can get a ground game going, the Chanticleers could lose to the Bulldogs for the first time in four meetings.
"We've got to do a better job in regard to our tackling, and we've got to do a better job in regard to our discipline," Moglia said.
Pough said Coastal Carolina has a harder-to-measure advantage in winning games the Chanticleers maybe shouldn't have. Last week, Coastal Carolina turned the ball over on three of their first four drives, but got a kickoff return for a touchdown with just over seven minutes to go to beat North Carolina A&T 31-30.
Last season, Coastal Carolina beat South Carolina State in with a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown that tied it up and a 99-yard, 16-play drive to take the lead.
"There was no way they should have won that football game, but they had the will and the ability to figure out to get some things done," Pough said of last season's loss.
The Chanticleers are ranked fifth in both major FCS polls. Pough said finally facing an FCS team will be a true test of his team's ability.
"It's big for us to go out and play a lot better this week. We've got to go out and show we belong with the top teams in the country," Pough said.
In Clinton. Presbyterian (1-1) will again play under the team's new lights against Furman (2-0).
The Paladins have won 15 in a row in a series that has been played 55 times, but was just recently renewed when the Blue Hose stepped up to FCS. Presbyterian came close to breaking through last year, but had a potentially game-winning 23-yard field goal blocked on the next to the last play of the game.
Blue Hose coach Harold Nichols said he isn't dwelling on the lost opportunity last year. But "being competitive, hopefully that will lend our kids some confidence with them," he said.
Nichols isn't quite sure where his team is at after a 52-point opening loss to Football Bowl Subdivision Northern Illinois and a 55-point win over NAIA Bluefield.
"There's still a lot of questions about us, as far as where we're at. This will be quite a test," Nichols said.
Furman will be giving a freshman quarterback his third start. Dillon Woodruff started last week after opening day QB Reese Hannon broke his ankle. Woodruff also started on game last year before a season-ending shoulder injury.
Woodruff completed 14 of 29 passes for 228 yards and one interception, which was enough for a 25-20 win over Mercer. Furman coach Bruce Fowler said Woodruff was poised when he needed to be and made good decisions.
"Getting that game experience is critical, and he handled it very well," Fowler said.
Wofford (0-1) will try to get back on track in Spartanburg against Division II North Greenville (1-0).
The Terriers had a bye week after an opening loss to Georgia Tech., and Wofford coach Mike Ayers still isn't sure he knows his young team.
"We've got all kinds of things going on here. The big thing is we're going to try to get better today," Ayers said.
The two teams have never played before. North Greenville went 5-6 last season in Division II and runs a pass-first offense.
The Terriers lost 38-19 to fellow option team Georgia Tech after cutting the Yellow Jackets lead to five in the fourth quarter. Still, Ayers said it is too early to know if that type of game is representative of his team.
"We're way young, especially in the offensive line," Ayers said. "And it is an ever growing process to get those guys dialed in."
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