Football Travels to James Madison for a Saturday Night Matchup
Back On the Road Again: The Coastal Carolina football squad is hitting the road again, traveling to Harrisonburg, Va. to take on No. 8 James Madison. This will be Coastal's second road game of the year, as the Chanticleers dropped the season opener at DelawareState, 23-18.The Coaches:Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fifth season at Coastal with a 35-13 record at CCU and 98-30 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. James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews (WestTexasState, '76) is in his ninth season as head coach of the Dukes, with a 58-41 coaching record overall, including leading JMU to the 2004 National Championship. Last season, the Dukes were 9-3 and 7-1 in the Atlantic-10, placing second. This season, the Dukes are playing in the Colonial Athletic Association, though it still consists of the same teams.History with James Madison: CCU and James Madison have met just once in the past and that was in 2005 in Conway, S.C. The Dukes entered the game ranked No.1 and defending national champions, but the young Chanticleers rallied late for a dramatic 31-27 victory.Last Meeting With The Dukes: Coastal Carolina rebounded with 14 unanswered points in the final six minutes of play to shock top-ranked James Madison, 31-27, Sept. 10 at Brooks Stadium. This was Coastal's first victory over a ranked opponent. Coastal got on the scoreboard first, as the Chanticleers put together a nine-play, 77-yard drive midway through the first quarter. CCU scored on a 21-yard pass play from quarterback Tyler Thigpen to wide receiver Jerome Simpson to put the Chants up 7-0 with 5:53 to play in the half. The teams exchanged touchdowns until Coastal took a 17-14 halftime advantage on a late Josh Hoke field goal. However, the Dukes came back and tallied 13 unanswered points to put the defending national champions up 27-17 with 9:52 to go. Coastal would not go quietly, as the Chanticleers came right back with a nine-play, 78-yard march over the next 3:51. Thigpen hooked up with Simpson for a 23-yard touchdown strike in the left corner of the end zone and the margin was back to three at 27-24 with 5:54 to go in the contest. After a six-play drive stalled for the Dukes, Coastal had the ball at its own seven yard line and had 2:14 to play with. The Chants, using the Thigpen to Simpson connection four times on the drive and a sneak by Thigpen, got the ball to the JMU 8. This set up the eight-yard pass to wide receiver Perry Parks, giving the Chants the 30-27 lead with just 30 seconds to play. After an 18-yard kickoff return, JMU was able to get four plays off, the last a "Hail Mary" that was knocked down at the CCU five-yard line. CCU amassed 415 total yards, including 287 through the air. Thigpen was outstanding, going 24-for-36 for a school record 287 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. He also led Coastal in rushing with 46 yards on 11 carries, as the Chants rushed for 128 yards in the game. Simpson had 10 receptions for a school-record162 yards and two touchdowns. JMU had 361 yards of total offense, spurred by 190 yards of rushing. Banks led the Dukes with 88 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Fenner chipped in 74 and one touchdown. Rascati finished with 16-for-21 passing for 171 yards. (Full story and stats on page 16).Against the Colonial Athletic Association: Coastal has faced a team from the Colonial Athletic Association just once and that was the previous meeting with James Madison.The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 48 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.I Love the Nightlife: Out of 48 games in its history, Coastal Carolina has played 24 in the night time hours. The Chanticleers are 17-7 in evening tilts, but just 6-5 in night games on the road.A Good Road Squad: The Chants have proven to be a good road squad in their first four seasons of play. Overall, Coastal has a 15-8 road mark, including going 4-2 last season.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 42 of its 48 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 33-9 on natural grass, with its only games on artificial turf at Liberty in 2003 in a tough loss, the 2004 season opening win at MoreheadState, 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 69-18 (79.3 percent) in his last 87 games as a head coach. 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 CarolinaState, 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 two games of 2007, Coastal ranks eighth in attendance based on capacity at 113.11 percent.Not Prone to Slides: And we aren't talking about a playground either. Coastal Carolina lost two consecutive games for just the third time in school history prior to Week 2's win over Winston-SalemState. 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 its fifth year of play, Coastal is now 0-5 in its third game of the season.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 51.0 yards per game. CCU also ranks in the top 40 in six other categories -- pass efficiency defense (7th, 82.26), sacks allowed (t-21, 1.0 spg), sacks (29th, 2.67 spg), tackles for loss (t-33rd, 7.33 tpg), kickoff returns (34th, 23.08 ypr), passing offense (36th, 229.33) and punt returns (38th, 11.29 ypr). Additionally, kicker Justin Durham is tied for 12th in field goals (1.67 pg), Marrio Norman ranks 29th in punt returns (11.29 ypr), defensive end Phillip Oboh is tied for 13th in sacks (1.0 spg) and tied for 32nd in tackles for loss (1.67 pg) and quarterback William Richardson is tied for 33rd in total offense (234.67 ypg).Well Yes They Call Simpson: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson currently ranks seventh all-time in the Big South in receptions (129) and second in yardage (2,230 - just 199 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 DelawareState, 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 now has 1,074 career yards, making him just the fourth rusher in CCU history to reach the historic plateau.Making a Pick or Two: After not getting an interception off the opposition in the first two contests, the Chanticleers got a pair of them against Georgia Southern, Sept. 15. Freshman Keon Cunningham grabbed his first collegiate pick early in the second quarter and returned it 29 yards to the GSU 5-yard line, setting up a Mike Tolbert touchdown. Then junior Whittmin Reese intercepted a pass midway through the third quarter, eventually leading to quarterback William Richardson's one-yard plunge.Oh My, Oboh: Defensive end Phillip Oboh has been making his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball for Coastal. In the win over Winston-SalemState, he posted a then career-high nine tackles (five solos), including 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He then followed it up wtih a career-high 12 tackles (including a career-best nine solos), along with 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks against Georgia Southern. He currently leads CCU with 23 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.He Can Run Like A Ford-ham: And the way he did against Georgia Southern, Sept. 15, running back Jamie Fordham made believers of everyone in Brooks Stadium. On the first play of Coastal's third drive starting at the CCU 39, Fordham took off through the middle and out ran the Eagles' defense for a 61-yard touchdown, the longest of his career. Fordham finished the night with nine carries for 96 yards and the touchdown.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-SalemState. 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-SalemState. 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.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 23-2 lifetime when rushing for 200 yards or more in a game. The only losses came in 2005's finale at Charleston Southern, when Coastal ran for 222 yards in the double-overtime loss, and in the recent loss to Georgia Southern. 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 13-of-15 (87 percent) of its red zone chances, but only has gotten in the end zone on eight 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, nine of 15 scoring drives have been 60 yards or more with eight of them going seven plays or longer.This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game at James Madison, Antonio Bellamy (right toe), Desmond Steward (right shoulder) and Chris Walker (left shoulder) are probable. Dominique Davenport (left hamstring) and Adrain Grady (left knee) are questionable, while Ray Emmerling (right hamstring) is doubtful. Jeff Antolik (right ankle), Eric Brown, Jr. (right thumb), B.J. Jenkins (left knee) and Trae Long (concussion) are out for the game, while Corey Hawkins (right knee), Jon Greene (left wrist) and Ren McKinnon (right hip) are out for the season.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.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.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.