COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL
CHANTICLEERS vs. KEYDETS
VMI's Alumni Memorial Field (10,000) -- Lexington, Virginia
Saturday, October 11, 2008 -- 1:30 p.m.
On the Road To Virginia: The Coastal Carolina football squad will make its only trip to Virginia this season when it travels to Lexington to take on VMI in a key Big South Conference contest.The Chanticleers come into today’s game after a tough 43-38 loss at home to defending Big South champion No. 15 Liberty, Oct. 4. The Keydets took on No. 5 Richmond at home and lost to the Spiders, 56-16, last Saturday.
The Coaches:Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, ’84) is in his sixth season at Coastal Carolina with a 42-20 record and 105-37 overall in his 13th 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.
VMI Head Coach Sparky Woods (Carson Newman, ’76) is in his first season as head coach of the Keydets with a 2-3 record and is in his 11th season as a head coach overall, sporting a 65-49-5 mark
History with VMI: Today’s contest is the sixth meeting in history between the two teams, with the Chanticleers holding a 4-1 advantage, including winning the last four as well as going 2-0 at Alumni Memorial Field. The series has been a close on in four of five meetings decided by 10 points or less, including both games at VMI. Last year's meeting was an offensive shootout, with the Chanticleers coming out on top of a 42-35 decision. In 2006, Coastal Carolina used a last-minute drive to escape Lexington with a 31-27 victory en route to tis third straight league crown and a berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championships.
Date Site Score
11/1/2003 Conway L, 10-19
10/16/2004 Lexington W, 21-14
10/29/2005 Conway W, 38-14
10/14/2006 Lexington W, 31-27
10/27/2007 Conway W, 42-35
The Chanticleers Picked to Finish Second in Big South: Coastal Carolina was picked to finish second at the Big South Conference’s Annual Football Media Day in Charlotte, N.C., as voted on by the league’s coaches and media members. Liberty was picked to repeat as Big South champions, with Gardner-Webb, Stony Brook, Charleston Southern and VMI following Coastal Carolina in the poll.
Coastal Carolina Still a Force in the Big South: Coastal Carolina is still showing it has to be reckoned with in the Big South Conference. Despite having a losing season in 2007, the Chanticleers posted a winning record in the league for the fourth straight year and have won 15 of their last 18 league games. In its five-plus year history, Coastal Carolina is 15-6 (.714) overall, the best record among all league schools in that time period. Liberty is 13-8, while Gardner-Webb is now 12-9. Charleston Southern is 8-13 and VMI is 4-16.
Daytime Can Be the Right Time: Coastal Carolina is 19-10 in day games in its five-plus years of play. However, the numbers go down on the road, as the Chanticleers are just 10-8 in day games away from Conway.
A Good Road Squad: The Chants have proven to be a good road squad in their first five-plus seasons of play. Overall, Coastal Carolina has a 18-12 road mark, but posted its first road losing record last year, going just 1-4 away from Brooks Stadium with its only road win in the season finale at in-state rival Charleston Southern. This season, the Chanticleers are 2-1 on the road with a loss at then FBS No. 22 Penn State and wins at Monmouth and North Carolina A&T.
Last Time Out For the Chanticleers: The Coastal Carolina University football team fell at home to the #20 Liberty Flames 43-38 in the Big South Conference opener for both teams at Brooks Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 4. The loss was the first in league play in Brooks Stadium since the 2003 season, a streak of eight consecutive wins.
The game had its moments for the Chanticleers, who fell behind 10-0 early in the first quarter after Liberty tailback Rashad Jennings caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Flames quarterback Brock Smith at the 9:36 mark of the quarter. The Flames later added to the lead with a Matt Bevins 22-yard field goal, giving the No. 20 team in the land the early lead.
Quarterback Jamie Childers, who was utilized as a goal-line quarterback throughout the contest, cut the Flames lead to 10-7 on a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left in the quarter. The Chants would take a 14-10 lead early in the second half as Chanticleer running back Jamie Fordham broke a 15-yard run for six.
Liberty would then register 17 unanswered points from the second quarter to 4:40 into the third, as the Chants would find themselves in a 27-14 hole. The Chants would add a Justin Durham 42-yard field goal to trim the lead to 27-17. After Liberty scored on the first play of the next drive go up 34-17, Coastal Carolina could not get over the top and fell to the Flames.
The game statistics bore out the overall closeness of the game, as both teams gained over 500 yards of offense, with Liberty racking up 292 yards of rushing and 239 yards of passing, while Coastal Carolina had 382 yards through the air and 152 on the ground. A key difference was penalties, as the Chants had two touchdowns called back on one drive for penalties and ended up with a field goal, finishing up with 10 penalties for 70 yards.
The game did break several Coastal Carolina offensive records, as Zach MacDowall set the Coastal Carolina single-game record with 382 yards through the air, passing former Chanticleer All-American Tyler Thigpen with 351 passing yards. Overall, MacDowall was 22-of-44 for 382 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions on the night. Marquel Willis tied for the fourth best individual receiving game in Coastal Carolina history with145 receiving yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. Fordham was the team's top rusher, gaining 66 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.(Complete recap on Page 20.)
Last Year's Meeting With the Keydets: The Coastal Carolina football team rallied in the fourth quarter for a thrilling 42-35 Homecoming win over VMI, Oct. 27, 2007, in the Chanticleers' Big South Conference opener. The victory marked Chanticleer Head Coach David Bennett's 100th career coaching victory.
Tied at 14 at halftime, the two teams went back and forth throughout the second half with the Keydets taking the lead twice, including the final time on a Tim Maypray fumble recovery in the end zone to put VMI up 35-28 with 6:54 remaining in the contest.
The momentum took a major shift on the ensuing kickoff, as running back Arthur Sitton picked up several key blocks en route to a school-record 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to tie the game at 35. This was the first-ever kickoff return for a score in school history and the eighth longest in Big South annals.
After holding VMI and getting the ball back with 3:08 on the clock, Coastal Carolina put the ball in the hand of senior Mike Tolbert again, and he was up to the task. The fullback broke three tackles near the line of scrimmage, picked up a key block downfield at the VMI 25 from Tommy Fraser, and went in for a Big South record 86-yard touchdown run to give Coastal Carolina a 42-35 advantage with 2:51 to play. The Chanticleers stopped a last-ditch effort for VMI on an interception by defensive back Brandon Autry with under a minute to go.
Tolbert finished with a school-record 244 rushing yards, just one off the Big South record, on only 13 carries and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson had four catches for 61 yards and a pair of touchdowns as well. VMI was paced by Howard Abegesah with 116 yards on 23 carries and a score, while Kyle Hughes had 20 carries for 88 yards and one score, while going 10-for-17 for 229 with two touchdowns and one interception through the air. Maypray led in the air with four catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. (Complete recap on Page 18.)
Last Time At Alumni Memorial Field: No. 24 Coastal Carolina struggled in the first half at VMI and had to score in the closing seconds to escape with a 31-27 road victory, Oct. 14, 2006 in the Big South Conference opener for both teams.
In what became a signature of the 2006 season, the Chanticleers went into the halftime lockerroom trailing, this time 13-3.
The Chants came out and got the opening kickoff and immediately got back in the game, as fullback Mike Tolbert broke no fewer than four tackles en route to a 30-yard touchdown run to end a 76-yard drive in 1:29. Josh Hoke's extra point cut the lead to 13-10 with 13:29 to go in the third. Coastal Carolina then got the lead on a 32-yard scamper by quarterback Tyler Thigpen for a 17-13 advantage midway through the third period.
From there, the teams traded touchdowns, including an 80-yard run by Tolbert to give the Chants a 24-20 lead late in the third quarter. VMI then made a late charge after a Chanticleer punt gave the Keydets the ball on Coastal Carolina's 39-yard line late in the fourth quarter, as Sean Mizzer found the end zone on a three-yard dive to put the Keydets in the lead, 27-24 with just 54 seconds to play.
The "Cardiac Chants" showed their character in the closing seconds, going the entire 67 yards in six plays and just 36 seconds. Several key plays occurred during the drive, but it was capped off by Thigpen's seven-yard pass to wide receiver Jerome Simpson for the game winning score.
Coastal Carolina amassed a season-best 555 yards of total offense, including a season-high 330 yards of rushing. VMI moved the ball as well, going 388 yards of total offense. Second half fumbles almost proved costly for the Chanticleers, as twice they had plays that moved the ball into VMI territory only to have the fumbles end the drive.
Tolbert rushed for a career-best and team season-high 155 yards on just eight carries and two touchdowns, while running back Aundres Perkins and Thigpen rushed for 90 and 77 yards, respectively. Thigpen was 19-for-28 for 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception to go with his rushing score. VMI was led by Maypray with eight carries for 89 yards and one score, while Mizzer had 26 carries for 71 yards and one score. (Complete recap on Page 19.)
Youth Being Served In This Matchup: Both Coastal Carolina and VMI have young overall lineups going into today's contest, with the Keydets being the younger. Of the 47 listed on the Chanticleer two-deep for offense and defense, 27 of them are redshirt sophomores or younger, with nine of them starting. However, the Keydets have 32 of their 46 that are redshirt sophomores or below (20 of them freshmen athletically), with 14 of their 23 starters listed (VMI lists 12 on offense) in that "youth group". VMI also has just three starters in the senior class as compared to seven for the Chants.
Ground Warfare Successful for the Chants: After not breaking the 200-yard barrier in rushing over the first three games, Coastal Carolina has surpassed that mark in two of last three games, earning victories in both. Against Towson, the Chanticleers posted a season-high 302 yards on just 38 attempts and followed it up with 243 yards on 43 carries in the rain at North Carolina A&T. However, Coastal Carolina failed to reach the 200-yard benchmark in the loss to Liberty. In the program’s history, the Chants are now 28-4 when posting at least 200 rushing yards.
This week, Coastal Carolina takes on the team that exemplifies a rushing attack, as the Keydets lead all NCAA football (Division I FBS and FCS, Division II and Division III) at over 360 yards per game. VMI also ranks last in the FCS in passing at 56.0 yards a contest.
Record After a Loss: Coastal Carolina has lost just 19 times in its history. Coming off the 17 in-season losses (not including two season-ending losses), the Chanticleers have gone 13-4 in the games following those losses and only had one three-game losing streak in its brief history.
When Its Natural: Coastal Carolina has played 52 of its 62 games in its history on natural grass. The Chanticleers are 38-14 (.731) on natural grass, including 17-7 on the road, while going just 4-6 on the fake stuff. This year, the Chants will play 11 of their 12 games on natural grass, with the only exception in Week Three as Coastal Carolina got a 26-7 victory on Field Turf at Monmouth.
Winning When Scoring First: Coastal Carolina has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding a 28-4 (.875) mark in five-plus seasons of play.
Winning at Halftime: The Chanticleers are impressive when leading at the half with a 30-5 (.865) mark. Coastal Carolina is now 16-2 at home when taking a lead into the intermission, while posting a 14-3 mark when leading at the half on the road. The only losses have occurred in 2003 at Liberty, 2005’s double-overtime thriller at Charleston Southern, last season's losses at Furman and in overtime to Presbyterian and this year's home opener to Colgate.
The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal Carolina is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 28-4 (.875) lifetime when rushing for 200 yards or more in a game. The only losses came in 2005’s finale at Charleston Southern and last year’s losses to Georgia Southern, against Presbyterian and at Liberty.
The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 62 games, the Chanticleers have yet to be shutout on the scoreboard, the longest current streak in the Big South Conference. In fact, Coastal Carolina's lowest single game point total was in 2005 at Appalachian State, with just a lone field goal.
Going Long and Far: Coastal Carolina was not afraid to chew up the yardage en route to putting points on the scoreboard in 2007. Of the 43 scoring drives, 29 were 60 yards or more with 23 of them going seven plays or longer.
In 2008, of the 27 scoring drives, 16 of them have been 60 yards or more, while 17 of them were seven plays or longer. The most plays in a drive was 17 against Liberty, Oct. 4, with the longest drive also occurring against the Flames, a 91-yard march in the fourth quarter.
Game Lengths Shorter In Time Only: In comparison from the 2007 timing rules to this year, the biggest difference has been that Coastal Carolina's games have been shorter in duration, but not fewer in plays. In non-televised games in 2007, the average length was just under three hours at 2:57 with the two teams combining for 132.7 plays on average. This season, the length has dropped to 2:35 with just a reduction to 131.2 plays a contest. The major changes in timing first occurred during the 2006 season and the game times decreased to 2:44 a contest. The number of plays also shrunk the number of plays from the 2005 season by more than 11 snaps a contest, on average, though some of the difference for the Chants can be attributed to playing six overtimes during the season.
Busting Big Plays: The Coastal Carolina offense has also gotten into the act over the last three games, as the five longest plays from scrimmage have occurred against Towson and Monmouth. In fact, last week's Towson contest had the top three, including a 63-yard touchdown pass from Zach MacDowall to Brandon Whitley and Eric O'Neal's tackle-breaking 49-yard touchdown run. The 63-yard touchdown pass was the fourth-longest completion in Coastal Carolina history, while running back Arthur Sitton's 67-yard scamper was the ninth longest rush ever for the program. Additionally, Coastal Carolina had six offensive plays for 20 yards or more in the rain at North Carolina A&T.
Bennett Hits The Century Mark: Head Coach David Bennett isn’t one to keep an eye on his statistics, but he just reached a major coaching milestone. With the 42-35 win against VMI, Oct. 27, 2007, Bennett picked up his membership in the illustrious career 100-win club. For his 12-year career, he is now 103-36 (.741) as a head coach.
Returning This Season: The Chanticleers return 53 letterwinners and 21 starters (eight offense, eight defense, five special teams) to the squad this year. Of the returners, one significant group could be the offensive line as the entire starting unit, along with two other significant players from last season, has returned for the 2008 campaign.
The Leader of the Pack: Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett has continued where he left off at Catawba with his winning ways now at Coastal Carolina. Bennett had gone 34-5 his final three seasons at Catawba, making him now 76-25 (75.2 percent) in his last 101 games as a head coach.
MacDowall Sets New Standards: Quarterback Zach MacDowall put his name in the Coastal Carolina record books with his performance against Liberty, Oct. 4. Against the Flames, MacDowall threw for school records of 44 times for 382 yards and tied the school mark with 24 completions. The previous records were all held by current Kansas City Chief quarterback Tyler Thigpen as he had 24 completions and 351 yards in the Division I Playoff game at Appalachian State in 2006 and 43 pass attempts in the season opener that year at Elon. MacDowall currently ranks second in the Big South (30th in the nation) in passing efficiency with a 136.5 rating and is third in the league at 191.8 passing yards per game.
Willis Breaks Out On The Wide Side: Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Marquel Willis had a break out game against defending Big South champion Liberty, Oct. 4. In the game, Willis had career-highs of seven catches, 145 yards and two touchdowns against the Flames. The 145 yards ties for the fourth-best single game in school history, while his seven receptions ties for fifth on the single-game chart. It was also the 15th time that a Chanticleer has posted two touchdown receptions in a game.
Fordham Hits the 1,000-Yard Milestone: After receiving a waiver from the NCAA that reinstated his eligibility, redshirt senior Jamie Fordham has made the most of it. In the game against Towson Sept. 20, Fordham became the fifth player at Coastal Carolina and 20th in Big South Conference history to eclipse the 1,000-yard career rushing mark, entering this week's action with 1,155 yards. He currently ranks 19th in Big South annals, just 27 yards behind Nick Roberts and David Montgomery, both of Gardner-Webb.
Fordham returned to the field for his first action of the year at Monmouth. In his first drive of the season, which started the third quarter, Fordham had six of the 10 touches on the drive, rushing four times for 28 yards, including the touchdown, and grabbing two catches for 10 yards. He finished the game with six carries for 39 yards and the score on the ground, along with his two receptions. He then rushed for 69 yards on eight carries at North Carolina A&T and had 66 against Liberty.
Usher Making All the Grabs: Redshirt senior Trent Usher has asserted himself as one of primary receivers for the Chanticleers this season. Usher has team highs of 20 catches for 287 yards and one touchdown on the year. In the win at Monmouth, Sept. 13, Usher posted career bests of five receptions for 80 yards. This is solid for a player who has shown his “team first” attitude by playing three positions (also defensive back and quarterback) in his time at Coastal Carolina.
Getting a Foot (Or 50 Yards) On the Ball: Sophomore punter Ben Erdman had one of the best games in Coastal Carolina history for his position. Erdman averaged 43.0 yards per punt at Penn State, Aug. 30, the second-best single-game average in program history. In addition, he became the first Chanticleer to have two punts of 50 yards or more in a single game, hitting 54- and 50-yard punts in the first half. The 54-yarder tied for the fifth longest punt in school history while the 50-yard boot tied for 10th.
Currently, Erdman is averaging 39.7 yards per punt on the season, which leads the Big South Conference and is more than four yards a punt better than during his freshman campaign. Of his 23 punts, six have finished inside the 20.
This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game at VMI, Jon Green (head), Eric O'Neal (ankle) and Trent Usher (foot) are probable, while E.J. Brown (adductor strain) and Jamie Childers (shoulder) are questionable. Marlon Campbell (left knee), Tommy Fraser (right hamstring), Kirk Leach (right hamstring) and Marrio Norman (ankle) out for the game. Dominique Davenport (right elbow), Myron Rogers (left knee) and Dominique Whiteside (left foot) are out for the year.
Four in the Show: With just three graduating classes in two years, the Chanticleers have shown they have some quality talent, with four players on 53-man National Football League rosters for Opening Day. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen was the first-ever draft pick out of the Big South Conference by the Minnesota Vikings in 2007, and got his first career start in week three for the Kansas City Chiefs. Defensive back Quinton Teal is starting his second year with the Carolina Panthers after playing in 15 games as a rookie. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson was a second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2008 NFL Draft while fullback Mike Tolbert was a free agent signee of the San Diego Chargers this past offseason and started his first four professional games.
Coaching Staff Continuity: The Coastal Carolina football coaching staff is a rarity in the world of college football. In the seven years as a program, the coaching staff has not had a single full-time coach leave the program and has added two over the years in the process of building to a full staff, with the addition of Co-Offensive Coordinator Gary Smallen in 2006 and Linebackers Coach Grant Cain in 2007. Four of them (Head Coach David Bennett, Co-Offensive Coordinator Jamie Snider, Defensive Coordinator Curtis Walker and Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Kevin Brown) have been together for the last 11 years dating back to their time at Division II Catawba.
Davenport Among the League Leaders:Junior safety Dominique Davenport was named The Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision National and Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his play against Colgate, Sept. 7. Davenport currently leads the team and ranks second in the league in tackles per game at 9.8 (39 total), including a school-record 20 tackles against Colgate and 10 tackles at Penn State. However, the junior suffered a season-ending elbow injury in the home win over Towson, Sept. 20.
Against Ranked Opponents: Coastal Carolina is 3-4 against FCS ranked opponents in its brief history, but 2-1 at Brooks Stadium. In 2005, the Chanticleers burst on the national scene when they upset No. 1 and defending national champion James Madison, 31-27. The Chants then followed it up with a dramatic 24-23 win at No. 24 South Carolina State the same season. In 2006, Coastal Carolina took on two more ranked squads, losing at No. 24 Georgia Southern, 38-21, before returning home to knock off No. 3 Furman, 29-27, with the difference a blocked point after attempt returned for two points. Then in the 2006 Playoffs, the Chants fell at No. 1 and eventual national champion Appalachian State, 45-28. In 2007, Coastal Carolina was handled 45-10 by No. 8 James Madison, while the most recent was a 43-38 loss to No. 20 Liberty last week.
Coastal Carolina Football On TV:Coastal Carolina's football team will have three appearances on television this year. The Chanticleers were on the Big Ten Network to start the season when they played nationally-renowned Penn State, Aug. 30. The other two televised contests are part of the Big South Conference package, as the home contest against defending champion Liberty (Oct. 4) and the road contest at Gardner-Webb (Nov. 8) are slated for the tube, with the GWU game moved to 3:30 p.m. to accommodate television. The Liberty game will be broadcast live in the Conway/Myrtle Beach area on SportSouth, while the game at Gardner-Webb will be tape delayed on SportSouth at 7 p.m. In its five-plus year history, Coastal Carolina is a solid 13-7 in television appearances all-time, including 8-2 at Brooks Stadium.
Pair of Players Picks Up Big South Honors In Week Four: Coastal Carolina quarterback Zach MacDowall and linebacker D.J. Rice were named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week and New Balance Defensive Player of the Week, respectively, for games played in week four of the 2008 season, it was announced Sept. 22 by the Conference office.
MacDowall amassed 197 yards of total offense (40 rush, 157 pass) and was responsible for three of the Chanticleers’ four touchdowns in Coastal Carolina’s 31-3 win over Towson. He scored on a 9-yard touchdown run with 1:36 remaining in the first quarter to give the Chanticleers a 7-3 lead. He also threw two touchdown passes in the third quarter, including a 63-yarder to Brandon Whitley, to help put the game away. MacDowall directed the Coastal Carolina offense to a season-high 459 yards on just 56 plays – an average of 8.2 yards per play.
Rice totaled a career-high 11 tackles – his first career double-digit tackle game, and had one tackle for loss in the Chanticleers’ 31-3 win over Towson. He helped lead the Chanticleer defense in holding the Tigers to more than 130 yards below their season average on offense, including 120 yards fewer through the air for a quarterback with more than 9,000 career passing yards. The defense also held Towson to 44 rushing yards and to 11 fewer points than No. 2 Richmond the week before.
Week Three Jinx Ends This Year: Not only did Coastal Carolina snap its two-game losing skid to start the season with the victory at Monmouth, it ended the Week Three jinx it had in the first five years. In the previous five years, the Chanticleers had not won their third game of the season in any of them. The closest was during the inaugural season, when the Chants dropped a 14-9 decision at Jacksonville. Of the Week Three games in history, five of the six have been played on the road.
MacDowall Gets It Done: Redshirt sophomore Zach MacDowall earned his first Big South Conference Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week honors for his play at Monmouth. MacDowall was solid in his second career start, leading the Chanticleers to a win at Monmouth. MacDowall was 17-for-26 for 233 yards, one touchdown and one interception through the air and added seven rushes for 21 yards on the ground.
A Game With Firsts: The win at Monmouth had several firsts for the Chanticleers, beyond their first game in New Jersey. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Brandon Whitley had his first collegiate touchdown reception, while running back Jamie Fordham and fullback Vince Starr posted their first rushing touchdowns of the year.
Slow Start Not a Reason for Concern: This is the fourth time in six seasons that Coastal Carolina has started the season with a 1-2 mark. However, two of the three previous times the Chanticleers have rallied for winning records, including the 2006 campaign that resulted in the program’s and league’s first-ever berth in the NCAA Division I Football Championships.
Davenport Earns National, Conference Weekly Awards:Junior safety Dominique Davenport was named The Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision National Defensive Player of the Week for his play against Colgate, Sept. 7, the publication announced. Davenport had been earlier named the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Defensive Player of the Week. He is the first Chanticleer to earn a weekly league honor this season and the first Coastal Carolina player to earn a national award since defensive back Marrio Norman garnered the Sports Network Defensive Player of the Week award for his play in the regular season finale against Charleston Southern in 2006.
In earning his first-ever weekly league or national award, Davenport set a school record with 20 tackles Sunday against Colgate (breaking the old record by five), with 11 solo shots against the Raiders. He had two drive-ending stops in the game, as well as one tackle-for-loss. His 20 tackles ties for the fourth-most in a single game in Big South history and second-most ever by a defensive back. Davenport’s 11 solo tackles were also a school record for a single game.
Overall this season, Davenport has set career bests in back-to-back games, starting the season with a team-high 10 tackles at Penn State. He currently leads the Chanticleers and is second in the Big South Conference with 9.8 tackles per contest.
O'Neal Hits the Century Mark: Sophomore running back Eric O’Neal posted his best game as a Chanticleer Sept. 6 vs. Colgate, as he rushed 17 times for a career-best 115 yards and one touchdown. It was his first career 100-yard rushing game. He also tied his career high in carries and posted the 21st 100-yard rushing game in Coastal Carolina history, with his 115 yards ranking 13th all-time.
Making the Grab a Historic One: Coastal Carolina's first points of the 2008 season were ones that senior wide receiver Trent Usher will remember. Usher took a short slant route over the middle and sprinted to the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown at Penn State, Aug. 30. The touchdown was the second of Usher's collegiate career and his first on the receiving end. He also became the first Coastal Carolina player in his career to score a touchdown as both a receiver and a quarterback, as he got in the end zone as a quarterback off the bench in a home win over Savannah State in 2006.
The Playoff System Opens Up: In 2010, the NCAA Football Division I Championships will expand from 16 to 20 teams, with the Big South Conference (Coastal Carolina's league) and the Northeast Conference slated to get automatic bids for their champions. For the next two years (2008 and 2009), a guaranteed at-large position shall be awarded in which a conference champion team representing a non-automatic qualifying conference meets all of the following conditions:
1). Team wins a minimum of eight (8) Division I games during the season;
2). Team wins a minimum of two (2) non-conference games against Division I teams representing a conference that has earned an automatic qualifying bid (AQ) in that year; and
3). Team finishes the season ranked 16th or higher in an average of the last regular season media, coaches and/or computer polls (which will be determined by the committee on an annual basis).
This criteria is not intended to be a permanent solution for interested and eligible conferences without an AQ. Rather, the criteria should only be used to bridge the time between such conferences applying for an AQ and the time needed to formally approve and fund necessary bracket expansion – not more than two years. The committee believes it important to continuing adhering to Cabinet policy limiting the number of AQ conferences to not more than 50% of the championship bracket.
Four Earn Preseason All-Big South Honors: Coastal Carolina University's football program had four players honored as Preseason All-Big South Conference selections, as announced at the league's annual Football Media Day at the Renaissance Suites in Charlotte, N.C., July 25. The group was voted on by the league's head coaches and selected media members. Selected to the Preseason All-Big South squad on the offensive side was senior offensive lineman Britt Leggett. Picked from the defense were senior defensive back Marrio Norman, senior linebacker D.J. Rice and junior defensive end Phillip Oboh. This is the first time that any of the four have been picked for the preseason accolade.
Weekly Big South Teleconference: Each Tuesday during the 2008 season, all seven Big South head coaches will participate in a teleconference call, beginning at 10:30am ET. Coastal Carolina 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 web site, 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.
Among The National Leaders in Attendance: Coastal Carolina has been one of the standouts in I-AA in attendance based on capacity in its first five 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.
The Chants 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-AA in attendance based on percentage of capacity at 112.52 percent. Last season, Coastal Carolina ranked 12th in the nation, again averaging over capacity at 102.65% in six games played.
Stadium Expansion: Sept. 2, 2006 marked the first game with the new seating capacity of Coastal Carolina University'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 Carolina has completed ground work in preparation for full construction to start right after Christmas on the new Adkins Fieldhouse.
Simpson Makes History: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson made history in his final season at Coastal Carolina. He started the accolades against Presbyterian on Oct. 20, 2007, becoming the Big South Conference’s all-time leading receiver, a record that currently stands at 2,720 yards, surpassing Maurice Price of Charleston Southern 2,429. The Big South’s career leader and ranking fourth in FCS career touchdown receptions, he became the first receiver in league history with more than 40 career touchdown receptions with a pair at Liberty, Nov. 3, pushing his total to 44. He became the first Big South player ever to record 10 touchdown receptions in two separate seasons (16-2006, 10-2007) with his two touchdown catches against Gardner-Webb.
It Was The First (But Not the Last) Time: Coastal Carolina made its first appearance in the Division I Football Championship (formerly known as the I-AA playoffs) in its brief five-year history when it took on eventual two-time National Champion Appalachian State in the opening round in 2006. This was the first time that a Big South Conference school 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.
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 Carolina won the 2004 crown, shared the 2005 title with Charleston Southern and won the 2006 title outright with a 4-0 mark.
The Class of 2006's Impact Still Being Felt: Coastal Carolina graduated more players than any Division I football program in the country in 2006, 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 Coastal Carolina, led the Chanticleers 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. Two of those players in that class, quarterback Tyler Thigpen and safety Quinton Teal, are on National Football League rosters for the second straight year.