COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL
CHANTICLEERS vs. PALADINS
Coastal Carolina's Brooks Stadium (7,322) ~ Conway, South Carolina
Saturday, October 7, 2006 ~ 7 p.m.
CCU Versus the Southern Conference: There is no doubt that the Southern Conference is one of the top conferences in I-AA football. The Chanticleers have played teams from the SoCon five times in the last two years, going 1-1 last year, defeating Elon and losing at eventual national champion Appalachian State, and 1-2 this season, with a win at Wofford and losses to Elon and at Georgia Southern.
The Coaches: Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fourth season at Coastal with a 28-10 record at CCU and 91-27 overall in his 11th 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.
Furman Head Coach Bobby Lamb (Furman, '86) is in his fifth season as head coach of the Paladins, posting a 39-16 record at Furman and as a head coach overall.
Last Time Out: Coastal Carolina gave up an early score, but rebounded with 31 unanswered points en route to a 31-12 win at Winston-Salem State, Sept. 30.
Coastal scored on its first two possessions of the game and never looked back, outgaining the host Rams 443-311. CCU was solid on third-down conversions throughout the night, going 8-for-12.
Quarterback Tyler Thigpen was 19-for-26 for 279 yards and a school-record four touchdowns, while also adding a team-high 57 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Chris Noble picked up five receptions for a game-high 92 yards and one score, while wide receiver Jerome Simpson had seven catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns. (Complete game recap and state on Page 16.)
Record Setting Night: The Chanticleers had two Big South Conference records set in the win at Winston-Salem State, Sept. 30. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen took over as the all-time leading quarterback rusher, passing Nick Roberts of Gardner-Webb and finishing the night with 1,233 career yards. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson had a pair of touchdown receptions and became the Big South career touchdown receptions leader with 23, moving ahead of William Andrews, Jr., also of Gardner-Webb, with 21.
Brooks Stadium Has Been Good to Coastal: In the brief history of the program, the Chanticleers are 15-4 (.789) in the friendly confines of Brooks Stadium. CCU is playing six home games this year, but had their Big South record 12-game home winning streak snapped in the season opener against Elon, Sept. 2.
Last Home Contest: In front of a Brooks Stadium Record crowd of 9,287, the Chanticleers earned a 33-14 victory over visiting South Carolina State, Sept. 23. The game was tied at seven at the intermission, but Coastal limited the visitors to just 46 total yards in the second half and put up 273 yards and 26 points in the final half of play. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen rushed for 91 yards and threw for 199, while linebacker Jamar Leath led all tacklers with nine total tackles. (Complete story and stats are on Page 17.)
Winning at Halftime: CCU is impressive when leading at the half with a 23-2 mark. Coastal is a perfect 13-0 at home when taking a lead into the intermission, while posting a 10-2 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.
Going Long and Far: Coastal has not been afraid to chew up the yardage en route to putting points on the scoreboard. This season, 21 of 24 scoring drives have been at least 48 yards, with 17 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. At Winston-Salem State, four of the five scoring drives were 56 yards or more, with three of them going at least 71 yards.
Also, CCU has had 12 of 24 scoring drives go seven plays 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.
Night Time Delight: Coastal has played in 20 of its 38 games in its history after 6 p.m. and has been solid, going 15-5 in those games, including 10-2 at Brooks.
Winning When Scoring First: Coastal has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding an 19-1 mark in three-plus 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.
When Its Natural: Coastal has played 34 of its 38 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 26-8 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 the triple-overtime win at Liberty last season.
Coastal Football On TV: Coastal Carolina's football team is making league-record five appearances on television this season, continuing with tonight's game against Furman. The game is being broadcast on Comcast Sports Southeast.
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 9-2 in television appearances, including dramatic wins last year at then No. 17 South Carolina State, Oct. 1, and against Gardner-Webb, Oct. 15.
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.
Thigpen Earns Second Big South Weekly Honor: Quarterback Tyler Thigpen has been named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week for games played during Week Five of the 2006 season, it was announced by the Conference office. This is the second time this season and sixth time in his career that Thigpen has earned the weekly honor.
Thigpen was 19-of-26 passing (73.1 percent) for 279 yards and a school-record four touchdowns in Coastals 31-12 win at Winston-Salem State. He finished with a 213.98 passing efficiency against the Rams, while his 73.1 completion percentage is seventh-best in League history. Thigpen also rushed for a team-high 57 yards and finished the day with 336 yards of total offense his fourth game this season over 300 total yards, a Big South single-season record. He had a long rush of 50 yards in the third quarter, and became the Big Souths all-time leading quarterback rusher during the contest, finishing with 1,233 to pass Gardner-Webbs Nick Roberts (1,182).
The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 20-1 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 has continued that tradition early 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 had 8,169 fans in the first contest at Elon and now rank third in I-AA in attendance based on percentage of capacity at 119.4.
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 ranks third in the nation in total offense at 447.2 yards a contest and has given up just four sacks in the first five 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. Then in the victory over S.C. State, Coastal amassed 240 yards on the ground and 199 through the air.
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. For the season, Coastal is now 16-for-20 in the red zone, 10 of which are touchdowns, while limiting opponents to 13-for-20 (65.0 percent) inside the 20.
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 41 scores. In 2005, Perk scored 12 touchdowns to match his 2004 total, while he tallied 14 scores his freshman season.
He also became just the fourth rusher in Big South history, and second from Coastal, to reach the 2,000-yard mark in his career. He posted 78 yards in the home win against South Carolina State, Sept. 23, to pass the mark and now sits at 2,047. He ranks fourth all-time in league history and trails former teammate Patrick Hall by 157 yards for third place.
Making the Aerial Assault Fly: Senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen grew in the passing game last season. 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. Thigpen then broke the single-game passing record at No. 24 Georgia Southern, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
He has totaled 1,394 yards in the first four games of the 2006 season, an average of 278,8 yards per game, ranking fourth in I-AA. He also became the fastest passer to 1,000 yards in a season in league history this year and is just 195 yards from last year's single-season school record of 1,589 yards by Thigpen.
On the season, Thigpen ranks second in I-AA in total offense at 331.4 yards per game, while also ranking fourth in passing efficiency at 171.73. He surpassed the 4,000-yard career mark in the game at No. 24 Georgia Southern, a total currently at 4,696 career passing yards.
Making the Catch: Junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson continues to show his ability to make the catch with his play on the field. He became the first CCU player ever to eclipse the 200-yard receiving mark in a single game, posting a record 207 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches at No. 24 Georgia Southern. The total was just three yards shy of the Big South record of 210.
Simpson has already taken over on the CCU career chart, currently leading in all three categories with 81 catches for 1,341 yards and 23 touchdowns. The 1,341 yards rank eighth in the history of the Big South, as he was the 10th receiver in league history to hit the 1,000-yard receiving mark in his career. Those 23 touchdowns are the new Big South career lead in touchdown catches, surpassing William Andrews, Jr. of Gardner-Webb at 21. Additionally, Coastal is 12-2 in games that Simpson has a touchdown reception.
He also showed his skills last season 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.
Making It In the National Rankings: Coastal Carolina continues to make itself known in the national rankings, both as a team and individually. CCUs passing offense is ranked fourth in the nation at 281.60 yards per game and fourth in total offense at 447.20 yards per contest. The Chanticleers rank seventh nationally in passing efficiency at a 172.08 rating. CCU also leads the Big South and ranks 11th nationally in sacks allowed at 0.80 per game and 22nd in the country at 29.2 points per game.
The defense has also had its recognition, as Coastal is seventh in pass defense at 112.0 yards per game and 16th in pass efficiency defense with a 101.47 rating.
Individually, several players rank in the top 50 nationally in the statistics. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen is second in total offense at 331.40 yards per game and fourth in passing efficiency at a 171.73 rating and passing yards per game at 278.80 yards per contest. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson is 27th at 79.00 receiving yards per game, while ranking 45th in scoring at 7.20 points per game. Kicker Josh Hoke is 24th in field goals per game at 1.20. Defensively, linebacker Jamar Leath is 44th in tackles at 9.0 per game, while safety Quinton Teal is tied for 47th at 0.40 interceptions a contest.
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.
Earlier this season, Thigpen became just the second quarterback in league history to reach the milestone with his 94 yards of rushing at Wofford, Sept. 9, and is now at at 1,233 career yards. He became the Big Souths all-time leading quarterback rusher in the win at Winston-Salem State, passing Gardner-Webbs Nick Roberts (1,182).
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 leading the team lead with 45 and has posted 293 career tackles, just seven shy of becoming the fourth player in Big South history to record 300 career tackles. In the game at No. 24 Georgia Southern, Sept. 16, Leath posted a season-best 11 tackles and passed Coastal's former all-time leader in tackles, Maurice Simpkins, at 272.
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 15.
Teal picked up his second pick of the season in the win at Winston-Salem State to end WSSU's last drive of the first half. Teal also had a pair of breakups and a blocked punt in the home win over South Carolina State, helping him earn Big South Defensive Player of the Week honors.
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 82 consecutive PATs made, dating back to Oct. 23, 2004 in the home win over Liberty. For his career, he is 144-of-149 in PATs and 36-for-55 on field goal attempts.
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 62-15 (80.5 percent) in his last 77 games as a head coach.
Big South In Action This Week: Just three Big South schools are in action this week. VMI travels to Army and Charleston Southern is at Savannah State. Liberty and Gardner-Webb are off this week.
This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game against Furman, Shaun Gaines (bruised ribs) is probable, while Clarence Donley (right ankle), Jamie Fordham (right forearm), Racheed Gause (right knee) and Kenneth Joshen (left finger) are questionable. Brandon Autry (neck), Marrio Norman (left calf) and Arthur Sitton (left ankle) are doubtful, while Ren McKinnon (right ankle) and Chris Walker (right ankle) are out for the contest. Brandon Whitley (knee), Louie Brock (knee), James Sims (foot), and Adrain Grady (knee, shoulder) are out for the season.
The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 38 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.
Teal Earns Defensive Honor: Senior safety Quinton Teal was honored as Big South Conference Football Choice Hotels Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Sept 25. Teal posted eight tackles, including six solos, and two pass break-ups in Coastals 33-14 home win over South Carolina State. Playing on a defense without five starters Saturday, Teal had five stops and one break-up in the second half that led the Chanticleers to limiting the visiting Bulldogs to just 46 yards of total offense in a dominating second-half performance. One of his pass break-ups kept SCSU out of the end zone, as he dislodged the ball with a hit at CCUs three-yard line and SCSU was not able to cash in on the drive for points. He also stepped in on special teams by blocking a punt and returning kicks -- the first time he has been a returner since his senior year in high school.
Pair Earn Weekly Big South Honors: Coastal Carolina's junior wide receiver Jerome Simpson was named Big South Conference Football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week, while wide receiver Jamar Anderson earned Freshman of the Week honors, the league announced Sept. 18. This is the second consecutive week a CCU player has earned a Big South award, as senior quarterback Tyler Thigpen was Co-Offensive Player of the Week last week.
Simpson posted one of the best games in Big South history at No. 17 Georgia Southern. He recorded eight catches for a school-record 207 yards and two touchdowns (30 and 58 yards). His 207-yard game is only the second 200-yard receiving game in League history (three shy of the record), while his two touchdowns move his career total to 21, tying him with William Andrews, Jr. (Gardner-Webb) for the Big South career touchdown receptions lead. During a second-quarter drive, Simpson caught a pair of passes, the first for 50 yards and the second for 30 to complete the two-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in 0:36. Seven of his eight catches were at least 10 yards (14, 10, 23, 50, 30, 14, 58) while six went for first downs.
Anderson was Coastals second-leading receiver Saturday at Georgia Southern. He had four catches for 52, a season best for the freshman. In just his second game of collegiate action, Anderson had two catches that gave the Chanticleers first downs, and he hauled in three passes and 47 yards during one drive, including a personal-best 33-yard reception. His four catches were the third-most by a CCU receiver this year.
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 were then 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.
Grady Sending Them Backwards: Senior Adrain Grady makes sure that he sends the opponents back towards their own end zone. Of Grady's 14 tackles this year before his season-ending injury, 4.5 of them were 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 30.5 for 150 yards.
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 heading into the 2006 season.
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.