Football Opens Big South Conference Action Hosting VMI For Homecoming
COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL
CHANTICLEERS vs. KEYDETS
Coastal Carolina's Brooks Stadium/Benton Field (7,322) -- Conway, South Carolina
Wrapping Up a Three-Game Homestand: The Coastal Carolina football squad will conclude a three-game homestand, hosting VMI tonight as part of Homecoming festivities. The three games opened with a 51-0 win over Chowan, Oct. 13, and followed with a heartbreaking 41-34 overtime loss to Presbyterian, Oct. 20.
The Coaches:Coastal Carolina Head Coach David Bennett (Presbyterian, '84) is in his fifth season at Coastal with a 36-16 record at CCU and 99-33 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. Bennett is 3-1 versus VMI.
VMI Head Coach Jim Reid (Maine, '73) is in his second season as head coach of the Keydets, with a 3-14 record at VMI and an 87-96-3 record in his 17th season as a head coach overall. Reid lost his only game against CCU last season.
History with VMI: This will be the fifth time that Coastal and VMI will meet on the gridiron. Coastal holds a 3-1 advantage, having won the last three meetings. Last year’s meeting was full of drama, as Coastal had to go the length of the field in less than a minute to escape Lexington with a 31-27 victory over the Keydets. At Brooks Stadium, Coastal holds a 1-1 mark, having lost during the inaugural meeting in 2003, but getting a 38-14 win in 2005.
Coastal’s Homecoming History: Tonight’s game will be the fifth-ever Homecoming football game in Coastal Carolina history. Ironically, the Chants have played just two foes in the four previous contests, VMI and Savannah State. The Keydets won the first-ever Homecoming game, 19-10, but were defeated by CCU two years later 38-14. This contest will mark VMI’s third trip to Conway for football, all of them on Homecoming.
Year Opponent Result
2003 VMI L, 10-19
2004 Savannah State W, 52-14
2005 VMI W, 38-14
2006 Savannah State W, 66-6
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. The Chants bring a four-game Big South Conference winning streak into today’s contest and have won 12 of their last 13 league games.
Simpson Makes History: Senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson made history against Presbyterian, Oct. 20, becoming the Big South Conference’s all-time leading receiver at 2,430 yards, surpassing Maurice Price of Charleston Southern 2,429. The Big South’s career leader and current FCS active career leader with 37 touchdown receptions, Simpson also ranks fourth all-time in the Big South in receptions with 141.
Bennett Closing In On the Century Win: Head Coach David Bennett isn’t one to keep an eye on his stats, but he is closing in on a coaching milestone. Entering tonight’s game, Bennett has 99 career coaching victories, just one shy of the illustrious 100-win club.
Cunningham Named Big South Freshman of the Week: Coastal Carolina defensive back Keon Cunningham was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Week for games played during Week 8 (Oct. 20) of the 2007 season, it was announced today by the Conference office.
Cunningham, a freshman from Edgefield, S.C., had a stellar game in his second collegiate start, posting five tackles (all solo), including two tackles for loss (minus-15 yards) and one sack (minus-13), as well as his second career interception, which he returned 57 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter against Presbyterian. Cunningham also recorded a pass break-up and was part of a secondary that intercepted a Big South single-game record six passes versus the Blue Hose.
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.
Two Big South And School Records For the Defense: Coastal Carolina's defense set one new Big South Conference and two CCU records, while tying on other league mark against Presbyterian, Oct. 20. The Chanticleers set a new conference mark with six interceptions in the game, while defensive back Marrio Norman tied the league mark and set a new school record with three individual interceptions.
Friendly Confines Describes Brooks Stadium: In the brief history of the program, the Chanticleers are 21-6 (.778) in the friendly confines of Brooks Stadium. CCU is playing six home games again this year. Coastal has won 19 of its last 22 games at Brooks Stadium/Benton Field. Coastal also has won its last six Big South games at home, dating back to the 2003 season.
Simpson Surpasses Another Milestone: WIth his touchdown catch at Delaware State, Sept. 1, senior wide receiver Jerome Simpson became just the fourth player in Big South history to surpass the 200-point scoring mark, now with 222. Of those three others, two were teammates of Simpson -- recently graudate kicker Josh Hoke (297) and running back Aundres Perkins (286).
The Streak Continues: In its brief history of 52 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.
Winning at Halftime: CCU is impressive when leading at the half with a 27-4 (.871) mark. Coastal is now 16-1 at home when taking a lead into the intermission, while posting a 11-3 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, this season's loss at Furman and last weekend's loss to Presbyterian.
Newcomers Counted On: Of the 42 players on Coastal’s offensive and defensive two-deep for today’s game against VMI, 10 of them are sophomores and 11 freshman in terms of athletic eligibility, including six true freshmen.
Winning When Scoring First: Coastal has been a stellar team when scoring first, holding a 24-3 mark in four-plus seasons of play.
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 52 games in its history, Coastal Carolina has played 27 in the night time hours. The Chanticleers are 18-9 in evening tilts, and a more stellar 12-3 at Brooks Stadium.
When Its Natural: Coastal has played 45 of its 52 games in its history on natural grass. CCU is 34-11 (.756) 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, last year's playoff loss to the Mountaineers, the triple-overtime win at Liberty in 2005 and the last loss at James Madison, Sept. 22. That makes Coastal just 2-5 on the fake stuff.
He Can Run Like A Ford-ham: And running back Jamie Fordham has done that twice this year at Brooks Stadium. Against Georgia Southern, Sept. 15., 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. Most recently, Fordham posted a career-best 133 yards on just 13 carries (10.2 yards per carry), including a career-best 62 yards. He already has a career-best 407 yards on the season and is closing in on the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career, entering tonight's game with 890 yards.
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 70-20 (77.8 percent) in his last 90 games as a head coach.
Not Prone to Slides: And we aren't talking about a playground either. Coastal Carolina lost three consecutive games for just the first time in school history after the squad lost at Furman, but snapped that streak with the 51-0 win over Chowan, Oct. 13.
Leading the Nation: After the first seven games of the season, Coastal Carolina leads all of Division I-FCS in pass defense, giving up just 119.14 yards per game. CCU also ranks in the top 50 in eight other categories -- turnover margin (18th, +1.00), tackles for loss (t-24th, 7.43), pass efficiency defense (25th, 108.52), punt returns (27th, 11.35 ypr), rushing offense (33rd, 185.57), scoring offense (43rd, 27.43 ppg), total defense (44th, 346.43 ypg) and kickoff returns (47th, 21.07 ypr).
Additionally, defensive back Marrio Norman is tied for sixth interceptions (0.67 int/g) and is 31st in punt returns at 9.89 ypr. Kicker Justin Durham is tied for 16th in field goals (1.43 pg), Arthur Sitton is 55th on kickoff returns (23.17 ypr) and on the defensive side of the field, defensive end Ro-Derick Middleton is tied for 60th in sacks at 0.50 sacks per game.
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.
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. For the season, Coastal has converted on just 31 percent (33-for-108) of its third-down opportunities.
Defensive Puts Together Solid Outing: The Coastal Carolina defense had one of its best games of the season at Furman, Oct. 6. The Chanticleers gave up then season lows of 201 yards on the ground, 43 yards in the air and 244 yards of total offense. While Furman scored 27 points, 13 could be directly attributed to special teams miscues.
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 26-of-33 (79 percent) of its red zone chances, but only has gotten in the end zone on 18 of those occasions (55 percent).
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 averaged 70.1 yards on 6.6 plays in just 2:40 per drive. On its 10 field goal drives, CCU took 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, 19 of 26 scoring drives have been 60 yards or more with 14 of them going seven plays or longer.
The Magic Number is 200: The magic answer to the question for Coastal is 200, as the Chanticleers are now 24-3 lifetime when rushing for 200 yards or more in a game. The only losses came in 2005's finale at Charleston Southern, this year's loss to Georgia Southern and last week's overtime defeat to Presbyterian. Coastal went over the 200-yard mark in rushing five times in 2006, winning all five games.
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 put him over the 1,000-yard mark, a total that now stands at 1,184 career yards. He is just the fourth rusher in CCU history to reach the historic plateau.
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-Salem State, he posted a then career-high nine tackles (five solos), including 3.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He followed it up with a career-high 12 tackles (with a career-best nine solos), along with 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks against Georgia Southern. He is currently tied for fourth for CCU with 38 tackles and leads with 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.
This Week's Injury Report: On this week's injury report for the game against VMI, Chris Walker (left shoulder) and James Sims (right knee) are probable, with Britt Leggett (right shoulder) questionable. Louie Brock (right foot) and B.J. Jenkins (left knee) are out for the game, while Antonio Bellamy (toe), Corey Hawkins (right knee), Jon Greene (left wrist) and Ren McKinnon (right hip) are out for the season.
Some Records Fell In The Chowan Win: Last week against Chowan, Coastal had several team records fall. The Chanticleers rolled up a school-record 490 yards of total rushing offense. Seven different players scored touchdowns for CCU, four of them getting their first collegiate scores. On the defensive side, the squad posted school records for fewest rushing yards, as well as fewest total yards in a contest. The defense also tied a school record with six sacks, all coming in the first half and posted just the second shutout in school history.
Linebacker Frasier Earns Big South Freshman Honors: Freshman linebacker Derrick Frasier was named Big South Conference Freshman of the Week for his play last week at Furman. In his first collegiate start, the Orangeburg, S.C. native recorded a career-high and team-high 12 tackles in the game, including two on the first FU drive that forced a failed fourth-down conversion, as well as another drive-ending tackle. He is the second Chanticleer to earn Freshman of the Week honors this season, as running back Eric O'Neal garnered it previously.
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.
Getting Some Weekly Honors: Coastal Carolina quarterback William Richardson has been named the Big South football Choice Hotels Offensive Player of the Week for games played during Week 2 (Sept. 8) of the 2007 season, it was announced today by the Conference office. In addition, running back Eric O’Neal garnered Freshman of the Week honors.
Richardson, a redshirt-junior from Sumter, S.C., passed for a career-high 301 yards on 16-of-24 passing (66.7 percent) and one touchdown in leading the Chanticleers in its 28-21 come-from-behind win over Winston-Salem State. In just his second career start, Richardson led four scoring drives of 60 yards-or-more, including the final two scoring drives (69 and 60) that led to the game-winning points. He also led Coastal in coverting 7-of-16 third down opportunities, including a 36-yard pass on 3rd-and-30 that eventually turned into Coastal’s first points of the game. Of Richardson’s 16 pass completions, 13 went for at least 10 yards, including six greater than 25 yards, as he became just the eighth different player in Big South history to pass for 300 yards in a game. This is the first Big South honor of his career.
O’Neal, a freshman from Kathleen, Ga., recorded 152 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s win over Winston-Salem State. He led the Chanticleers with 77 rushing yards on 17 carries (4.5 per rush) and caught two passes for 44 yards, including a 28-yard reception on 3rd-and-8 that kept alive a drive that led to CCU’s second touchdown of the night. O’Neal also returned a kickoff 31 yards.
Returning This Season: The Chanticleers returned just 36 letterwinners and 10 starters on the current depth chart (four offense, six defense, no special teams) to the squad this year.
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.
Among The National Leaders in Attendance: Coastal has been one of the standouts in Division I-FCS in attendance based on capacity in its first four seasons. Ranking in the top seven in the nation in each of the first four years, the Chanticleers set a new Brooks Stadium record in the home opening win over No. 1 James Madison, packing 8,533 fans into a stadium that seats 6,408. Coastal finished the season as the top I-FCS team in attendance based on capacity at 114.3 percent.
Coastal continued that tradition in 2006, including setting a new Brooks Stadium record with 9,287 fans in the home win over South Carolina State, Sept. 23. The Chanticleers then surpassed it with 10,013 fans in the home win over then No. 3 Furman. The Chanticleers had 8,169 fans in the first contest at Elon and ranked fourth in I-FCS in attendance based on percentage of capacity at 112.52 percent.
After the first four home games of 2007, Coastal ranks 10th in attendance based on capacity at 105.2 percent.
Senior Impact Still Being Felt: Coastal Carolina graduated 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.
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.
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.
Stadium Expansion: Sept. 2, 2006 marked the first game with the new seating capacity of CCU's Brooks Stadium. The school added 914 seats to the facility to bring seating capacity up to 7,322 for the 2006 season. Now Coastal has started moving some ground in preparation for full construction to start right after Christmas on the new Adkins Fieldhouse which will add approximately 2,000 seats to the facility.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mark Simpson (email@example.com) for the dial-in phone number and code.
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.
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.
Homecoming -- Saturday, October 27, 2007 -- 7 p.m.