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2015 Football Opponent Preview: Coastal Carolina
In addition to its position previews and player features, LibertyFlames.com will take a look at each of Liberty's 2015 Big South football opponents during the month of August.
During the opponent series, the website will bring you audio from the head coach of each football program. LFSN reporter Nick Pierce had a chance to talk with each head coach during the Big South Football Media Day events in Atlanta in July.
LibertyFlames.com concludes its Big South opponent previews today by taking a look at Coastal Carolina, who was predicted to finish in first place in the conference's preseason poll released in July.
The road to a Big South title has either gone through the mountains or beach five of the last six years, with Liberty and Coastal Carolina sharing conference titles five times during the span (former associate member Stony Brook claimed the outright title in 2011).
Both teams finished with identical 4-1 conference records in 2014, but Liberty's thrilling 15-14 upset of No. 1 ranked Coastal Carolina on the final week of the regular season gave the Flames the automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
Just like last year, Coastal Carolina is the preseason favorite to win the Big South title in 2015. The Chanticleers return 14 starters, including eight of 11 starters from an offensive unit that ranked No. 18 in the country in total offense (463.4 yards per game).
The Chanticleers return their top two offensive weapons from 2014 in running back De'Angelo Henderson (1,534 yards, 20 touchdowns) and quarterback Alex Ross (3,389 yards, 20 touchdowns). Ross, along with Liberty's wide receiver Darrin Peterson, is one of 22 players on the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Award watch list.
Coastal Carolina does have big shoes to fill on the defensive side of the football with the graduation of Big South Defensive Player of the Year Quinn Backus (127 tackles). Defensive end Roderick Holder will look to take over the leadership of the defense after earning All-Big South honors in 2014 (49 tackles, 6.5 sacks).
The two teams will once again meet during the final week of the regular season and this year, the game will garner national attention. Two weeks ago, the Big South announced the game was moving to Nov. 19 with the Thursday night game slated to be televised on ESPNEWS.