The first snap has been played, the first win has been recorded, and the 2015 college football season is officially here!
The Big South will open play this week and with that in mind, it’s time to take a look at our first power ranking of the season.
1. Coastal Carolina 0-0, 0-0 (Nationally ranked #5)
Coastal is no stranger to the top of the Big South power rankings. With the return of a talented offense and stout defense, it lands them back at #1. QB Alex Ross, Big South’s offensive POY last season, looks to earn that title again in his third year for the Chanticleers. Preseason All-American running back De’Angelo Henderson joins Ross in the backfield. Top that all off with a combo of solid receivers and teams start getting nervous. Rumors have heated up as Coastal’s name has been mentioned in joining the Sun Belt to fill the newly created twelfth spot. No doubt Coastal looks to go out on top should their time in the FCS be coming to a close.
First up: @ Furman, 7:00pm
2. Liberty 0-0, 0-0 (Nationally ranked #14)
The Flames are coming off their first every FCS playoff appearance AND playoff victory. This was a bump in the proverbial football road that Liberty had been hindered by for quite some time. What some were beginning to call a curse has been lifted and the hopes of another playoff appearance are alive and well. Senior quarterback Josh Woodrum returns to lead a stellar offense with what could be the most talented group of running backs Liberty has ever seen. Woodrum looks to set Big South records this season with the help of WR Darrin Peterson, who earned first-team honors. The Flames did lose some great players on defense though, with Jacob Hagen, Nick Sigmon, and Niko Davis all moving on. Regardless of the losses, many consider Liberty a solid contender in the FCS championship race.
First up: vs. Delaware State, 7:00pm
3. Charleston Southern 0-0, 0-0
If you’re looking for a dark horse in the conference, look no further. Jamey Chadwell has built quite the football program down at CSU. They finished in this very position at the close of last season with an 8-4 record, giving Liberty their only Big South loss of the 2014 season. But don’t be fooled by this ranking as CSU can easily climb the ladder. The Buccaneers have played second fiddle to Liberty and Coastal for some time, but they have steadily been gaining ground on the two powerhouses and look to claim their dominance. They did lose the school’s all-time leading rusher, Christian Reyes, but gain Larry Jones and Kevin Glears, a pair of WR’s who were both lost to ACL tears last season. Be on the look out for the Bucs as they are poised to make some noise in the Big South this season. Oh, and CSU has both Liberty and Coastal at home this year.
First up: vs. North Greenville, Thurs. 7:00pm
4. Presbyterian 0-0, 0-0
Presbyterian lost a good chunk of there offense at the close of last season with seven starters graduating. Unfortunately, their offense possessed the majority of their issues already. There is still an element of the unknown between QBs Tamyn Garrick and Kaleb Griffin lobbying for the position and the RB position isn’t much better. On a lighter note, the Blue Hose’s return what was already an impressive defense, bringing back all but two starters this season. By the way it looks, much of what will propel this team in the coming season is just that, the defense.
First up: @ Miami (Ohio), 3:30pm
5. Gardner-Webb 0-0, 0-0
It’s not too often that you return and entire defense and the Bulldogs do just that. All eleven starters make their way back to Boiling Springs and are likely to cause many issues for opposing offenses this season. They even bring back eight starters on their offense, but the three that they lost are huge. QB Lucas Beatty, RB Juanne Blount and WR Kenny Cook all leave some big shoes to fill. With the loss of Beatty, Tyrell Maxwell looks to take over the QB spot behind a questionable offensive line. And he’ll be joined by RB Kerry Bernard in the backfield. Gardner-Webb was the only team in the Big South to go without a conference win last season.
First up: @ South Alabama, 6:00pm
6. Monmouth 0-0, 0-0
Entering into their second year with the Big South, the Hawks look to gain more ground behind their experience in year one. This past week, Monmouth named redshirt freshman Cody Williams as the starting QB with Brandon Hill graduating. RB Lavon Chaney is a great weapon in their backfield and hopes to continue with the success he had last year. Their defense did take a huge blow though. DE Darnell Leslie fractured his right foot and will be out for the season. Aside from that, Monmouth does have a great line-up on the defensive side of the ball. But it should be noted that the Hawks open Big South play against CSU, Liberty, and Coastal.
First up: vs. Holy Cross, 1:00pm
7. Kennesaw State 0-0, 0-0
Welcome to the Big South Kennesaw state! The Owls are led by former Georgia Tech QB coach Brian Bohannon, who pieced together one of the most well-known triple option offenses in the country. The spread can be extremely dangerous, especially for the Big South as they haven’t seen much of it since VMI. The team comes together with a plethora of redshirt freshman and help from QB Trey White, a transfer from The Citadel. Of course it is difficult to gage a team until they play a true game and that is why the Owls land at the bottom of the list. There will be growing pains, tweaks, and changes to produce what looks to be a great team.
First up: @ East Tennessee State, Thurs. 7:30pm