COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL
CHANTICLEERS vs. EAGLES
Coastal Carolina's Brooks Stadium/Benton Field (7,322) -- Conway, South Carolina
Saturday, September 15, 2007 -- 7 p.m.
Keeping It Home: The Coastal Carolina football squad will play its second straight home contest, hosting Georgia Southern in a regionally televised game on SportSouth tonight. CCU comes in off a 28-21 home win against Winston-Salem State last week, while Georgia Southern rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit with 35 unanswered points in the second half for a 45-21 home victory over Division II West Georgia.
The Coaches: Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fifth season at Coastal with a 35-12 record at CCU and 98-29 overall in his 12th year as a head coach. At Catawba, he led the Indians to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II playoffs, including a run into the national semifinal round in 2001.
Georgia Southern Head Coach Chris Hatcher (Valdosta State, '96) is in his first season as head coach of the Eagles, but has a 77-12 career coaching record in his eighth season overall. Last season, the Eagles were 3-8 and 2-5 in the Southern Conference, tying for fifth.
The two coaches met during Catawba’s run to the Division II semifinals in 2001. Bennett’s Indians headed to Valdosta State to take on Hatcher’s squad in the quarterfinals and Catawba came away with a 37-34 overtime win to move on to the semis at Grand Valley State (Mich.).
History with Georgia Southern: CCU and Georgia Southern have met just once in the past and that was last year in Statesboro, Ga. The host Eagles were not so hospitable, handing the Chanticleers a 38-21 defeat in Game #3 of the season.
Last Meeting With The Eagles: Coastal Carolina could not find a way to stop No. 24 Georgia Southern and lost at GSU's Paulson Stadium, 38-21, Sept. 16.
GSU got off on the right foot, as running back Chris Covington went 75 yards on the first play from scrimmage and only a diving tackle by sophomore Whittmin Reese saved the touchdown. After three straight plays of defense, the Eagles lined up for a field goal on fourth down, but Jayson Foster scrambled on the fake, eluding three tackles and diving in for the three-yard score. The extra point made it 7-0 with just under 12 minutes to go in the first period.
Coastal came back with an immediate answer on its first possession, marching the ball 80 yards in 12 plays. Senior Aundres Perkins capped it off with a one-yard touchdown plunge to know the game at seven with 6:41 to go in the first.
Georgia Southern scored 10 unanswered points in the first half to take a 17-7 lead that was cut back to 17-14 as quarterback Tyler Thigpen hooked up with wide receiver Jerome Simpson on back-to-back plays of 50 and 30 yards, respectively.
However, the Eagles rattled off two straight touchdowns and Coastal could get no closer than 10 in the second half.
Coastal was outgained 474-429, including 21-16 on first downs. GSU amassed 364 rushing yards, while Coastal had just 99 on the ground.
Thigpen finished the game 17-for-26 for a school-record 316 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Simpson finished with a Coastal record 207 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches.
Georgia Southern had two 100-yard rushers, as Lewis had 172 and one touchdown and Covington posted 131 and one touchdown. Clark was 8-for-15 for 127 yards and one touchdown through the air. (Full story and stats on page 16).
Against the Southern Conference: There is no doubt that the Southern Conference has been one of the top conferences in I-FCS football for the past 10 years. The Chanticleers have played teams from the SoCon six times in the last two years, going 1-1 in 2005, defeating Elon and losing at eventual national champion Appalachian State, and 2-3 last season, with a win at Wofford and over then No. 3 Furman and losses to Elon, at Georgia Southern and in the NCAA Playoffs to repeat national champion Appalachian State.
The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 47 games, the Chanticleers have yet to be shutout on the scoreboard, the longest current streak in the Big South Conference. In fact, CCU’s lowest single game point total was in 2005 at Appalachian State, with just a lone field goal.
Back-To-Back-To-Back: The Chanticleers were the first Big South school to capture three league titles in the brief history of the conference. Gardner-Webb won the first two championships, while Coastal won the 2004 crown, shared the 2005 title with Charleston Southern and won the 2006 title outright with a 4-0 mark.
Friendly Confines Describes Brooks Stadium: In the brief history of the program, the Chanticleers are 19-4 (.826) in the friendly confines of Brooks Stadium. CCU is playing six home games again this year. Last year, Coastal had its Big South record 12-game home winning streak snapped in the season opener against Elon but has rebounded to win the next six games at home entering tonight’s contest. Coastal also has won its last six Big South games at home, dating back to the 2003 season.
I Love the Nightlife: Out of 47 games in its history, Coastal Carolina has played 23 in the night time hours. The Chanticleers are 17-6 in evening tilts, including going 11-2 in night games at Brooks Stadium.
Winning at Halftime: CCU is impressive when leading at the half with a 26-2 mark. Coastal is a perfect 15-0 at home when taking a lead into the intermission, while posting a 11-2 mark when leading at the half on the road. The only losses have occurred at Liberty in 2003 and 2005's double-overtime thriller at Charleston Southern.
Winning When Scoring First: Coastal has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding a 23-2 mark in four-plus seasons of play.
Senior Impact Still Being Felt: Coastal Carolina gradauted more players than any Division I football program in the country last year, losing 36 seniors, including 31 letterwinners. Among the 36 seniors on the roster, 32 of them were in at least their third year with the program. This group, comprised of the first two football recruiting classes at CCU, has led CCU to a 34-11 mark in four years, along with at least a share of three consecutive Big South Conference titles and the program's first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championships.
When Its Natural: Coastal has played 41 of its 47 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 33-8 on natural grass, with its only games on artificial turf at Liberty in 2003 in a tough loss, the 2004 season opening win at Morehead State, an early 2005 season loss at Appalachian State and last year's playoff loss to the Mountaineers and the triple-overtime win at Liberty in 2005. That makes Coastal just 2-4 on the fake stuff.
Returning This Season: The Chanticleers return just 36 letterwinners and 10 starters on the current depth chart (four offense, six defense, no special teams) to the squad this year.
The Leader of the Pack: CCU Head Coach David Bennett has continued where he left off at Catawba with his winning ways now at Coastal. Bennett had gone 34-5 his final three seasons at Catawba, making him now 69-17 (80.2 percent) in his last 85 games as a head coach.
Not Prone to Slides: And we aren't talking about a playground either. Coastal Carolina had lost two consecutive games for just the third time in school history prior to last weekend's win over Winston-Salem State. However, the Chanticleers have never lost three in a row and also have not ever started a season losing the first two games. However in four years of play, Coastal is 0-4 in its third game of the season.
Among The National Leaders in Attendance: Coastal has been one of the standouts in Division I-FCS in attendance based on capacity in its first four seasons. Ranking in the top seven in the nation in each of the first four years, the Chanticleers set a new Brooks Stadium record in the home opening win over No. 1 James Madison, packing 8,533 fans into a stadium that seats 6,408. Coastal finished the season as the top I-FCS team in attendance based on capacity at 114.3 percent.
Coastal continued that tradition in 2006, including setting a new Brooks Stadium record with 9,287 fans in the home win over South Carolina State, Sept. 23. The Chanticleers then surpassed it with 10,013 fans in the home win over then No. 3 Furman. The Chanticleers had 8,169 fans in the first contest at Elon and ranked fourth in I-FCS in attendance based on percentage of capacity at 112.52 percent.
After the first game of 2007, Coastal ranks eighth in attendance based on capacity at 110.89 percent.
Coastal Football On TV: Coastal Carolina's football team will make three appearances on television this year. CCU will have its only televised home game Sept. 15 when it hosts Georgia Southern, while road games at Liberty (Nov. 3) and at Charleston Southern (Nov. 10) are also slated for the tube. In its brief history, CCU is a stellar 12-3 in television appearances all-time, including last year's dramatic win over then No. 3 Furman and Big South Championship win over Charleston Southern.
Getting Some Weekly Honors: Coastal Carolina quarterback William Richardson has been named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week for games played during Week 2 (Sept. 8) of the 2007 season, it was announced today by the Conference office. In addition, running back Eric O’Neal garnered Freshman of the Week honors.
Richardson, a redshirt-junior from Sumter, S.C., passed for a career-high 301 yards on 16-of-24 passing (66.7 percent) and one touchdown in leading the Chanticleers in its 28-21 come-from-behind win over Winston-Salem State. In just his second career start, Richardson led four scoring drives of 60 yards-or-more, including the final two scoring drives (69 and 60) that led to the game-winning points. He also led Coastal in coverting 7-of-16 third down opportunities, including a 36-yard pass on 3rd-and-30 that eventually turned into Coastal’s first points of the game. Of Richardson’s 16 pass completions, 13 went for at least 10 yards, including six greater than 25 yards, as he became just the eighth different player in Big South history to pass for 300 yards in a game. This is the first Big South honor of his career.
O’Neal, a freshman from Kathleen, Ga., recorded 152 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s win over Winston-Salem State. He led the Chanticleers with 77 rushing yards on 17 carries (4.5 per rush) and caught two passes for 44 yards, including a 28-yard reception on 3rd-and-8 that kept alive a drive that led to CCU’s second touchdown of the night. O’Neal also returned a kickoff 31 yards.
Leading the Nation: After the first two games of the season, Coastal Carolina leads all of Division I-FCS in pass defense, giving up just 47.5 yards per game. CCU also ranks in the top 40 in six other categories -- passing offense (17th, 261.5 ypg), punt returns (17th, 15.6 ypr), turnover margin (19th, +1.5), sacks (t-31st, 2.5 spg), kickoff returns (34th, 23.71 ypr) and pass efficiency defense (37th, 107.17).
Additionally, kicker Justin Durham is tied for sixth in field goals (2.50 pg), Marrio Norman ranks eighth in punt returns (15.60 ypr), defensive end Phillip Oboh is tied for 17th in sacks (1.0 spg) and quarterback William Richardson is 24th in passing efficiency (144.90) and 27th in total offense (250.0 ypg).
Well Yes They Call Simpson: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson currently ranks seventh all-time in the Big South in receptions (126) and second in yardage (2,181 - just 248 yards shy of first). Simpson is the Big South’s career leader and current FCS active career leader with 34 touchdown receptions.
Simpson Surpasses Another Milestone: WIth his touchdown catch at Delaware State, Sept. 1, senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson became just the fourth player in Big South history to surpass the 200-point scoring mark, now with 204. Of those three others, two were teammates of Simpson -- recently graudate kicker Josh Hoke (297) and running back Aundres Perkins (286).
Tolbert Makes It A Cool Grand: Senior fullback Mike Tolbert isn’t getting close on money but moved up the career rushing yard chart. Tolbert’s 26 yards in the win over Winston-Salem State gave him 1,000 career yards, making him just the fourth rusher in CCU history to reach the historic plateau.
Richardson Reaches 300: Junior quarterback William Richardson put his name in the record books, becoming just the second Coastal quarterback ever to post a 300-yard passing game, throwing for 301 in the win over Winston-Salem State, Sept. 8. His total ranks as the sixth-best passing game in CCU history and he is just the eighth player in Big South Conference history to reach that plateau.
It Was The First (But Not the Last) Time: Coastal made its first appearance in the Division I Football Championship (formerly known as the I-AA playoffs) in its brief four-year history when it took on eventual two-time National Champion Appalachian State in the opening round. This was the first time that a Big South Conference school has earned a berth in the postseason and only the second school from a non-automatic bid conference to earn a berth (Cal Poly - 2005) in the last 10 years.
Newcomers Will Be Counted On: Of the 44 players on Coastal’s offensive and defensive two-deep for tonight’s game against Georgia Southern, 10 of them are sophomores and 13 freshman in terms of athletic eligibility, including six true freshmen.
The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 23-1 lifetime when rushing for 200 yards or more in a game. The only loss came in 2005's finale at Charleston Southern, when Coastal ran for 222 yards in the double-overtime loss.
Most recently, the Chanticleers posted a season-best 332 yards of rushing in the win at Gardner-Webb, Nov. 11. Coastal went over the 200-yard mark in rushing five times in 2006, winning all five games.
Third Down Conversions Are Always Key: And look at the success Coastal has had on third down to see why the Chanticleers were 9-3 last season. For the year, CCU converted on 49 percent (75-for-153) of its third down opportunities, while limiting opponents to just 39 percent (60-for-153) of their chances. In the nine wins, the Chants have converted at least 37 percent of its chances, while going 1-2 when falling below that bench mark (4-for-14 against Elon, 3-for-10 at Georgia Southern and 6-for-15 at Appalachian State).
However, the Chants were just 1-for-16 in the season opening loss at Delaware State, but improved greatly in the win over Winston-Salem State, going 7-for-16, including converting a 3rd-and-30 for a 36-yard gain from quarterback William Richardson to wide receiver Trent Usher.
Second Half Surge: Coastal Carolina proved that it made quality adjustments out of the halftime locker room in 2006. In the first half, CCU was outscored 166-165 in the first half, but in the second, the Chanticleers held a dominating 246-131 advantage, winning both the third and fourth quarters by at least 57 points each. Averaging that out over 12 games, that is a 9.6 point per game advantage after the break.
Coastal Picked to Finish Second in Big South: The three-time defending champion Chanticleers were picked to finish second at the Big South's Annual Football Media Day in Concord, N.C., as voted on by the league's coaches, sports information directors and media members. Liberty was picked to win their first Big South title, with Gardner-Webb, Charleston Southern and VMI following CCU in the poll.
Simpson Named Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson was named the Big South Conference's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, by a vote of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media members. Simpson, who received 11 first-place votes and 26 total points, was a Second-Team All-America last season by the Associated Press and Weekly Football Gazette, and a third-team honoree from The Sports Network. Simpson set a Big South single-season record in 2006 with 1,077 receiving yards and 16 touchdown receptions, helping the Chanticleers to their third consecutive League title and the school’s and Conference’s first-ever berth in the national playoffs. He has been selected as a preseason All-American by Lindy’s College Football Preview and Street & Smith’s, and is Lindy’s choice as the Big South’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Rated No. 2 among all FCS wide receivers entering 2007 by The Sports Network, Simpson holds all of Coastal's single-game, season and career receiving records. He caught a touchdown pass in his final eight games (12 total) last year and caught a TD in all but one contest. The first wide receiver to be selected as the League’s top preseason offensive player, Simpson needs 338 receiving yards to become the Big South’s career leader in that category.
Grady Earns Preseason All-Big South Honors: Senior defensive lineman Adrain Grady was honored on the Preseason All-Big South team after a vote of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media members. A three-time Second Team All-Big South selection, Grady enters his senior season as Coastal's all-time sack leader with 17 and ranks fourth in career tackles with 129. He played in just three games in 2006 before an injury ended his season, giving him a medical redshirt. His junior year, he started all 11 games and recorded a career-best 48 tackles, including a career-best 10 tackles at Liberty to help CCU get a triple overtime victory.
Red Zone Making Opponents See Red: Or see more lights for Coastal on the scoreboard in this case. Coaches often say that red zone execution is a key to success for a football team, and Coastal Carolina follows that philosophy. In 2006, Coastal was 45-for-56 (80 percent) in the red zone, 35 of which were touchdowns, while opponents were 37-for-47 (79 percent) inside the 20 with just 28 touchdowns.
This season, Coastal has converted on 9-of-11 (82 percent) of its red zone chances, but only has gotten in the end zone on four of those occasions.
Going Long and Far: Coastal was not afraid to chew up the yardage en route to putting points on the scoreboard in 2006. Last season, 52 of 64 scoring drives have been at least 47 yards, with 45 of them going 60 yards or more. For the season, Coastal's 54 touchdown drives have averaged 70.1 yards on 6.6 plays in just 2:40 per drive. On its 10 field goal drives, CCU has taken slightly longer, going 8.2 plays and 49.9 yards over 3:10.
Also, CCU had 29 of 64 scoring drives go seven plays or more. In the home victory over then No. 3 Furman, all four scoring drives were at least 65 yards, with the longest going 83 yards.
In 2007, six of 10 scoring drives have been 60 yards or more with five of them going seven plays or longer.
This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game against Georgia Southern, Antonio Bellamy (right toe) and Trent Usher (left ankle) are probable. Eric Brown (right thumb), Tommy Fraser (right shoulder), Adrain Grady (left knee) and Chris Walker (left shoulder) are questionable. Jeff Antolik (right ankle) and B.J. Jenkins (left knee) are out for the game, while Corey Hawkins (right knee), Jon Greene (left wrist) and Ren McKinnon (right hip) are out for the season.
Stadium Expansion: Sept. 2, 2006 marked the first game with the new seating capacity of CCU's Brooks Stadium. The school added 914 seats to the facility to bring seating capacity up to 7,322 for the 2006 season. Now Coastal has started moving some ground in preparation for full construction to start right after Christmas on the new Adkins Fieldhouse.
Time To Prepare Is Time To Succeed For Bennett: For head coach David Bennett and his coaching staffs throughout his career, they have shown the ability to prepare effectively when given more than just a week. In games where they have had more than 10 days to get ready, Bennett's teams are 17-3 and outscore their opponents by a 660-256 margin, an average of 15.2 points per game more than their opponents.
Weekly Big South Teleconference: Each Tuesday during the 2007 season, all six Big South head coaches will participate in a one-hour teleconference call, beginning at 10:30am ET. CCU Head Coach David Bennett is on from 11:20-11:30 a.m. each Tuesday. Each call will be recorded and available for playback beginning Tuesday afternoons on the Conference’s website, www.Big SouthSports.com. THIS CALL IS OPEN TO MEDIA ONLY. If you would like information to tune in live and ask questions, please contact either John Martin (email@example.com) or Mark Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for the dial-in phone number and code.