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2013 Flames Football Opponent Preview: CCU
LibertyFlames.com continues its coverage of Flames Football training camp with the fifth in a series of previews of Liberty's 2013 opponents, featuring Coastal Carolina today.
Coastal Carolina was the only team ranked above the Flames in the preseason poll released by the Big South at its annual Big South Football Media Day event in July.
Coastal Carolina, Liberty and former Big South member Stony Brook finished the 2012 season each with identical 5-1 records conference records. The Chanticleers were awarded the league's automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs based upon the league's three-way tiebreaker system (better road conference record).
Both the Flames and the Chanticleers followed similar paths in 2012, struggling early under first-year head coaches against difficult schedules.
After opening the year with a pair of wins against North Carolina A&T and Furman, Coastal Carolina dropped four-straight games under new skipper Joe Moglia. The four-game skid included setbacks to nationally ranked programs like Eastern Kentucky, Appalachian State and Stony Brook.
A 34-7 road victory at VMI on Oct. 20 jump started a run six-game win streak for Coastal Carolina that included a victories over the Flames (W/ 36-12) and a NCAA FCS Playoff opening round win over Bethune-Cookman (W/ 24-13).
Liberty and Coastal Carolina are once again atop all the preseason conference predictions from the various FCS media outlets with the Chanticleers benefiting from the return of some of their top players.
Besides garnering the top spot in the Big South preseason polls, it was also announced during Big South Football Media Day that the Chanticleers had the conference's top returning players.
Wide receiver Matt Hazel, the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, tied a Coastal Carolina record with 61 receptions in 2012 and his 799 receiving yards were second on the program's all-time listing. Three of the rising senior's eight touchdowns came during the Chanticleers' postseason play.
Linebacker Quinn Backus is the reigning Big South Defensive Player of the Year and took home the conference's top preseason honor in July. The 2012 third-team All-American finished with 139 stops (69 solo, 70 assisted) and ranked No. 10 in the nation in tackles per game, last year.
The potential premier game in the Big South Conference this year could be Liberty's first conference game when the Flames host the Chanticleers on Oct. 19 at Williams Stadium.
The overall series between the two programs is tied 5-5 with Liberty putting up some sizeable numbers in the last three meetings in Lynchburg. The Flames have scored an average of 52.6 points per game in the last three games against their Big South rival at Williams Stadium and have won the trio of games by an average margin of 31.3 points per game.
LibertyFlames.com will conclude its 2013 opponent preview series on Saturday when Liberty Flames Sports Network reporters Alan York and Nick Pierce take a look at Liberty's non-conference opponents.