COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL
CHANTICLEERS vs. EAGLES
Georgia Southern's Paulson Stadium (18,000) ~ Statesboro, Georgia
Saturday, September 16, 2006 ~ 7 p.m.
One More On the Road: The Coastal Carolina football program will play its second consecutive road game in Statesboro, Ga. taking on Georgia Southern. The Chanticleers opened the two-game road swing with a 41-38 win at Wofford.
Series vs. Georgia Southern: This is the first-ever meeting between the Chanticleers and the Eagles. Against Southern Conference foes, CCU is 2-2, with a split of the home-and-home series with Elon, a loss at eventual National Champion Appalachian State last season and last week's win at Wofford. CCU will face one other SoCon opponent this season, hosting Furman Oct. 7.
The Coaches: Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fourth season at Coastal with a 26-9 record at CCU and 89-26 overall in 10-plus seasons. 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 Brian VanGorder (Wayne State (Mich.), '91) is in his first season as head coach of the Eagles, and is 16-18 in his fourth year as a head coach overall.
Winning at Wofford: Coastal put together another of its cardiac moments, scoring on a late 45-yard touchdown from Tyler Thigpen to Jerome Simpson, to get a 41-38 road win at Wofford, Sept. 9. The Chanticleers fought back from a 10-point halftime deficit, and trailed by four when they got the ball back with 4:27 to go in the game. After CCU's scoring drive, Wofford was stopped on its first offensive play from scrimmage when safety Marrio Norman picked off the pass. (Complete story and stats on page 14.)
He Was Offensive To The Terriers: Senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen was named the Big South Conference's Co-Offensive Player of the Week, announced by the league, Sept. 11. This is the fifth time in his career that Thigpen has been awarded the weekly honor, sharing this week's with Charleston Southern quarterback Collin Drafts. Thigpen was also honored by CollegeSportsReport.com as its I-AA National Performer of the Week and by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette as a I-AA National Offensive Player of the Week.
Thigpen was key for the Chanticleers in their dramatic 41-38 road victory at No. 27 Wofford. He was 13-of-20 through the air for 288 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 10 carries for a team-high 94 yards and one score on the ground. Thigpen, whose 382 yards of total offense is the fourth-highest single-game performance in Big South history, directed the Chanticleers on six scoring drives of 61 yards or more, including four of 80 yards or more. He connected with receiver Santini Washington for an 80-yard touchdown pass, the longest play in CCU history and third-longest in Big South history. His 288 yards are the second most single-game passing yards in school history, while his 94 rushing yards are sixth-most in a game by a Big South quarterback. Thigpen also became the second quarterback in League history to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career.
Returning In The Fourth Year: The Chanticleers return 73 letterwinners and 21 starters (seven offense, nine defense, five special teams) to the squad this year.So This Is Senior Leadership: Coastal returns more seniors than any program in I-AA football this year. After spending the first season practicing, the Chanticleers start the 2006 season with not one, but two classes of seniors, as the 2002 and 2003 recruiting classes will wrap up their eligibility this year. Among the 32 seniors on the roster, 30 of them are in at least their third year with the program and 14 are starting on offense or defense, along with four starting specialists.
Working Deep Into The Night: Out of 35 games in its history, Coastal Carolina has played 18 under the lights. At night, the Chanticleers are an impressive 14-4, but just a 5-2 mark on the road.
Road Openers: Coastal has posted a 3-1 mark in its first road games of the season. In their first year, the Chanticleers lost a 14-9 decision at Jacksonville in their first-ever road game. Since then, CCU followed it up with a road wins at Morehead State and Elon, both also season openers, as well as last week's win at Wofford.
Winning at Halftime: CCU is impressive when leading at the half with a 21-2 mark. Coastal is a perfect 12-0 at home when taking a lead into the intermission, while posting a 9-2 mark when leading at the half on the road. The only losses have occurred at Liberty in 2003 and last year's double-overtime thriller at Charleston Southern.
Winning When Scoring FIrst: Coastal has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding an 18-1 mark in three seasons of play. Last season, Coastal was 4-0 when lighting the scoreboard first. The Chants were 8-0 in 2004 when scoring first, including a perfect 6-0 when scoring first on the road.
A Good Road Squad: The Chants have proven to be a good road squad in their first three-plus seasons of play. Overall, Coastal has a 12-5 road mark, including going 4-2 last season.
When Its Natural: Coastal has played 31 of its 35 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 24-7 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 the triple-overtime win at Liberty last season.
Going Long and Far: Coastal has not been afraid to chew up the yardage en route to putting points on the scoreboard. This season, all 11 scoring drives have been at least 48 yards, with eight of them going 60 yards or more. All six scoring drives in the win at Wofford, each resulting in a touchdown, were at least 61 yards, with four of the drives going 80 yards or more.
Of last season's 46 scoring drives, the Chanticleers have had 24 scoring drives (20 touchdowns, four field goals) of 50 yards or more, including 15 of 70-plus yards, and only 15 of 35 yards or less (seven touchdowns, eight field goals - including the overtime game winners against Gardner-Webb (FG) and Liberty (TD)). Additionally, Coastal had 14 scoring drives of nine plays or more.
The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 19-1 lifetime when rushing for 200 yards or more in a game. The only loss came in last season's finale at Charleston Southern, when Coastal ran for 222 yards in the double-overtime loss.
Leading the Nation in Attendance: Coastal has been one of the standouts in I-AA in attendance based on capacity in its first three seasons. Ranking in the top seven in the nation in each of the first two 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-AA team in attendance based on capacity at 114.3 percent.
Coastal continued that tradition in the first game against Elon. The Chanticleers had 8,169 fans in the first contest, a percentage of 115.7 with the new seating capacity of 7,322.
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 2005, the Chanticleers were 43-for-50 (86.0 percent) in the red zone (32 touchdowns, 11 field goals) while opponents were limited to just 69.4 percent (25-for-36).
In the season opener against Elon, CCU was able to score just five out of seven times in the red zone and of the five, only one was a touchdown. However, Coastal tallied scores on all three red-zone drives in the Wofford game, posting touchdowns in each of them.
Coastal on TV: Coastal Carolina's football team will make a league-record five appearances on television this season, starting with tonight's game at Georgia Southern. The game in Statesboro will be televised on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast and UPN-WWMB TV-21 in the Myrtle Beach/Conway area.
CCU will play three televised home games (South Carolina State, Furman and Charleston Southern) and two on the road (Georgia Southern and Gardner-Webb). In its brief history, CCU is a stellar 8-1 in television appearances, including dramatic wins last year at then No. 17 South Carolina State, Oct. 1, and against Gardner-Webb, Oct. 15.
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 60-14 (81.1 percent) in his last 74 games as a head coach.
I Will Pick Your Pocket: Defensive back Quinton Teal has been cashing in on quarterback 'checks', having picked off a league-leading five passes last season, including one at Savannah State that he returned for a school-record 74 yards to set up CCUs first score. Last year, he tied for 15th in the country in interceptions (0.45 per game) and was also tied for 32nd in passes defended per game at 1.09. The senior led the league in picks in 2004 with a league-record six INTs, as well as being the Big South's all-time interception leader with 14.
Teal already got his first pick of the year in the opener against Elon, ending a drive in the end zone with a touchback.
Kicking/Kickoffs: And that is what kicker Josh Hoke did for the Chanticleers again in 2005 and in an improved fashion. Out of 57 kickoffs this year, Hoke has had 28 go for touchbacks, a very impressive 49.1 percent. He also hit 14 field goals on the year, tying for 12th in I-AA football at 1.27 made per game. He had three from 45 yards or beyond, with a career-long 49-yarder in the home win over Delaware State.
Hoke hit four of five field goal attempts in the opener against Elon and followed it up by going 5-for-5 on point after attempts in the win at Wofford. He has a current streak of 71 consecutive PATs made, dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 in the home win over Liberty. For his career, he is 133-of-138 in PATs and 34-for-51 on field goal attempts.
The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 35 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 last year at Appalachian State, with just a lone field goal.
Finding The Promised Land: Senior running back Aundres Perkins has shown he has a nose for the end zone in his career. In just three seasons, Perkins already is the Big South Conference's career touchdown leader with 38 scores. Last year, Perk scored 12 touchdowns to match his 2004 total, while he tallied 14 scores his freshman season. He also is just 197 yards from becoming the second CCU rusher, and fourth in the Big South, ever to reach the 2,000-yard mark in his career.
Making the Aerial Assault Fly: Junior quarterback Tyler Thigpen grew in the passing game last season. With his school-record 287-yard passing output against then No.1 James Madison, he became the first passer in CCU history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark in his career and also passed 3,000 yards after the Savannah State game. Thigpen had his then second-highest career output with 241 yards at Liberty. He also broke the schools single-season passing mark in just seven games last year, a mark that wrapped up at 1,589 yards.
Thigpen opened the 2006 season with a record-setting performance, going 23-for-43 for 312 yards and one touchdown. The 312 yards are the first-ever 300-yard passing game in school history, while the 43 attempts are also a new school record. The passing yards are also the second-highest total in Brooks Stadium annals. He followed that up with the second most passing yards in school history with 288 in the win at Wofford, Sept. 9. In that game, Thigpen connected with Santini Washington for an 80-yard touchdown strike, the longest offensive play in Coastal history.
On the season, Thigpen leads I-AA in total offense at 349.50 yards per game, while also ranking 18th in passing efficiency at 151.75. He is currently at 3,902 career passing yards heading into the Georgia Southern game.
Making the Catch: Junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson continues to show his ability to make the catch with his play on the field. Against No. 1 James Madison last season, the Reidsville, N.C. native tied a school record with 10 receptions and set a new mark with 162 receiving yards. He also had two touchdown receptions, but his most memorable catch was an acrobatic, one-handed 27-yard catch that put CCU at the JMU 13 and led to the game-winning score. Additionally, Simpson surpassed his own single-season school records last season in the three main receiving categories. Last year, he had 33 receptions for 527 yards and nine touchdowns, bettering his freshman marks of 26 receptions for 419 yards and eight touchdowns.
Simpson has already taken over on the CCU career charts as well. Last season, he moved into the top spot for yardage and receptions, now at 63 catches for 967 yards. The 967 yards rank 10th in the history of the Big South, as he stands just 33 yards from hitting the 1,000-yard mark in his career. He already was the CCU career leader in touchdown receptions, a mark that currently stands at 19 after a touchdown reception in both the Elon and Wofford contests. Additionally, Coastal is 11-1 in games that Simpson has a touchdown reception.
Just Tell Him You Don't Want To Do The Bootleg: However, the bootleg didn't hurt senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen against VMI, Oct. 29, 2005, as he scampered a school-record 77 yards for final score in the Homecoming victory over the Keydets. Thigpen rushed for a career-high 112 yards, the ninth-best performance and 14th 100-yard game in Coastal history. In addition, the 77-yard touchdown run was the third longest rushing play from scrimmage in Big South history.Thigpen became just the second quarterback in league history to reach the milestone with his 94 yards of rushing at Wofford, finishing the game at 1,069 career yards. He is currently second behind former Gardner-Webb quarterback Nick Roberts with 1,182 rushing yards.
He Makes The Stops: The answer is definitely yes in the case of senior linebacker Jamar Leath. In 2005, Leath ranked third in the Big South and tied for 31st in I-AA nationally in total tackles at 9.82 tackles per game, while setting a new school record with 108 total tackles, the second CCU player to record 100 tackles in a single season. He set a new career best with 15 tackles and has then tied it twice more during the season. He also tied for 29th nationally with three forced fumbles in 2005.
This season, Leath is tied for the team lead with 17 and has posted 265 career tackles. He is seven shy of matching Coastal's all-time leader in tackles, Maurice Simpkins, at 272.
Linebackers Tackling the Top: Early this season, Coastal's linebacking corps has been leading the tackling act. Senior Jamar Leath and sophomore D.J. Rice are leading the way with 17 tackles, with junior Anthony Steele one behind at 16.
Grady Sending Them Backwards: Senior Adrain Grady makes sure that he sends the opponents back towards their own end zone. Of Grady's nine tackles this year, four of them have been for loss, including two sacks. Grady is currently CCU's all-time sacks leader with 17.0 and second in career tackles for loss with 30.0 for 150 yards.
Working the Balancing Act: Coastal has worked, since the first season, on becoming a more balanced attack and has shown that early in the 2006 season. Currently, the CCU offense that ranks fourth in the nation in total offense at 462.5 yards a contest and has not given up a sack in the first two games. In the win at Wofford, CCU put together 288 yards through the air and 222 yards on the ground for a total of 510 offensive yards, the fourth most in school history.
Big South In Action: All five Big South schools are in action this week, as VMI is at Richmond, Liberty travels to Towson, Gardner-Webb is on the road at Tennessee-Martin and Charleston Southern hosts Wingate.
This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game at Georgia Southern, Chase Howe (left shoulder) and D.J. Rice (left ankle) are probable, while Shaun Gaines (left ankle), Warren Jennings (left ankle), Allen Parker (left quad) and Rob Williams (left thumb) are questionable.James Sims (left foot) is doubtful, while Jamie Fordham (right forearm), Chris Walker (right ankle) and Ren McKinnon (right ankle) out. Brandon Whitley (knee) is out for the season.
Home Winning Streak Snapped: Coastal Carolina won its Big South record 12th-straight home game, Nov. 12, 2005, with its 71-8 victory over Mansfield and recently had its home winning streak snapped by Elon, Sept. 2. This streak surpassed the previous Big South record for consecutive home wins of 11, set by Gardner-Webb from August 31, 2002 to Nov. 15, 2003. CCU's 12 wins were the third longest active streak in I-AA, behind Appalachian State with 15 consecutive home wins.
In that span, the Chanticleers scored 591 points, for an average of 45.5 per game. They held their opponents to 209 points, or 16.1 per contest during the streak.
Back-To-Back: The Chanticleers will be looking to become 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 and shared the 2005 title with Charleston Southern.
Stadium Expansion: Sept. 2 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.
Too Much Drama: Coastal Carolina had a flair in 2005 for the dramatic in making the most of its opportunities. The Chanticleers have four wins after they were trailing by eight or more during the final quarter, two against nationally-ranked opponents, along with the first two conference games.
CCU put together three fourth-quarter rallies for the history books in 2005. In the home opener Sept. 10 against defending national champion and current top-five James Madison, the Chanticleers came back from a 27-17 deficit, scoring 14 points in the final 5:54, including the game winner with just over 30 seconds remaining for a 31-27 victory.
To only outdo themselves, the Chants scored 14 points in the last 9:51 at then No. 17 South Carolina State, Oct. 1, to steal a dramatic 24-23 win over the host Bulldogs. In that contest, Coastal scored with just 17 seconds to play for the win.
In the Big South opener, Coastal came from behind in the fourth quarter against Gardner-Webb, including driving 41 yards in the final 22 seconds. That set up a 45-yard, game-tying field goal with no time remaining to send it to overtime, where the Chanticleers eventually pulled out the 34-31 victory.
Add the Liberty game, Oct. 22, which ranks up there, as the Chanticleers fought through three overtimes to escape with a 27-21 win. Coastal trailed 14-6 with just under 10 minutes left in the game. CCU scored twice in the final quarter of regulation and found itself in overtime after a LU drive late in the contest. After a combined three missed field goals and a turnover, Coastal won on a five-yard touchdown run and a forced turnover by the CCU defense.
Working Overtime in 2005: After playing its first-ever overtime game in the Big South opener against Gardner-Webb, Oct. 15, Coastal Carolina came back the next week for a second, even larger helping with a triple-overtime win at Liberty, Oct. 22. The team then played its third extra-period game at Charleston Southern, going double overtime in that one. The amazing part about it is that the Chanticleers held their opponents to just 10 points in the six overtimes, forcing three turnovers and one missed 42-yard field goal. Coastal played more overtime games (3) and more overtime periods (6) than any team in I-A or I-AA football last season.
Weekly Big South Teleconference: Each Tuesday during the 2006 season, all five 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 Conferences 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mark Simpson (email@example.com) for the dial-in phone number and code.