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Big South Opponent Previews: Coastal Carolina

August 26, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Head coach Danny Rocco previews Big South foe Coastal Carolina, who Trey Jacobs (No. 92) and the Flames will face on Oct. 17 in Williams Stadium as part of Homecoming Weekend.
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Link to Audio Interview with Coastal Carolina Coach David Bennett

As the countdown clock hits the 10-day mark before the Flames open their 2009 season against West Virginia on Sept. 5, Countdown to Kickoff coverage returns its focus to previewing Liberty's Big South foes.

The web site has two remaining opponents to preview this week, beginning with the Flames' new-found rival – Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers were one of five teams to garner first-place consideration in this year's Big South's annual preseason poll, finishing third overall in the listing with 83 points.

Last year, the Chanticleers finished the season with an even 6-6 mark, but ended the year with a 1-4 record in Big South play. The tie for fifth place in the league's regular-season standings was the lowest conference finish in program history since Coastal Carolina began league play in 2003.

Coastal Carolina head coach David Bennett enters his seventh year as the head of the football program with 55 returning letterwinners and 19 returning starters. Of those 19 returning starters, seven are offensive players, while eight of Bennett's starting 11 on defense in 2008 return for another go around this campaign.

Coastal Carolina will be looking for its seven returning offensive starters to help spur additional offensive production in 2009, after finishing last season sixth in the Big South in scoring offense (22.2 points per game).

Leading the charge will be quarterback Zach MacDowall, who ranked second in the Big South in passing last year. The redshirt junior finished second to Liberty's Brock Smith, as he passed for 2,064 yard and 16 touchdowns. He completed 61.3 percent of his pass attempts (157-of-256), while averaging 187.6 yards per contest.

The Chanticleers top returning ground gainer from 2008 is Eric O'Neal, who finished his sophomore year by rushing for 405 yards and three touchdowns in nine contests.

Coastal Carolina's top loss on offense was first-team all-conference offensive lineman Britt Leggett; however, the Chanticleers return the remainder of their line, including seniors Ryan Boehm and James Sims.

Defensively, Bennett will be looking for leadership from returning first-team all-Big South honoree Phillip Oboh. The senior defensive lineman led the squad and ranked ninth in the league with 10 tackles for a loss, while ranking fifth in the Big South with 5.0 sacks.

Oboh helped the Chanticleers boast of the league's top passing defense, as Coastal Carolina held opponents to 187.2 passing yards per game. Spotlighting the remaining defensive starters is the Chanticleers entire defensive backfield, consisting of Brandon Autry (51 tackles, 5 pass breakups), Josh Norman (35 tackles, 7 pass breakups, 2 interceptions), Keon Cunningham (42 tackles, five pass breakups, 3 interceptions) and Dominique Davenport (39 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss).

For the second year in a row, the Chanticleers will open the season against a FBS foe, as Coastal Carolina will jumpstart the Big South's overall schedule with a Thursday evening game (Sept. 3) at Kent State. Last year, the Chanticleers began the year in Beaver Stadium, falling 66-10 to Penn State.

Following three additional non-conference foes after Kent State, the Chanticleers will begin their quest to claim their first Big South title since 2006, when they welcome VMI to Brooks Stadium on Oct. 10.

The following weekend, Coastal Carolina will make the trek north and square off against the Flames inside Williams Stadium, an event that will culminate the University's annual Homecoming Weekend.

The Flames have proven victorious in the last two matchups with the Chanticleers, outlasting Coastal Carolina, 43-38, in Conway, S.C., last year on Oct. 4.

During the Chanticleers last trip into the "Hill City," Liberty rolled up 500 yards of total offense (527 total offensive yards) for the third time in 2007, en route to a 37-24 victory on Nov. 3. The Flames dominated the contest for next 50 minutes, before allowing the visitors to tack 10 points on the scoreboard over the final 10 minutes.

Rashad Jennings was the offensive star in the contest, rushing for 172 yards and three touchdowns. Brock Smith efficiently completed 11-of-15 passing attempts for 265 yards and a touchdown.

Overall, the series between Liberty and Coastal Carolina is knotted a 3-3, with Liberty holding a 2-1 edge when facing the Chanticleers inside Williams Stadium.

Coastal Carolina Quick Links:
Athletics Web Site
Football Web Page
2009 Schedule
2008 Statistics

Chanticleers Quick Facts
Location: Conway, S.C.
Founded: 1954
Enrollment: 8,100
Nickname: Chanticleers
School Colors: Teal, Bronze and Black
Stadium: Brooks Stadium (7,322)
Surface: Natural Grass
President: Dr. David A. DeCenzo (Maryland, 1978)
Athletics Director: Warren Koegel
Ticket Office Phone: 843-347-TIXX

Chanticleers Football Facts
First Year: 2003
Overall All-Time Record: 45-23 (.662)
Overall Big South Record: 16-9 (.640)
Big South Championships: 3 (2004, 2005, 2006)
No. Years in Playoffs (Years): 1 (2006)
All-Time Playoff Record: 0-1
Last Postseason Appearance: 2006 NCAA First Round
at Appalachian State (L, 28-45)
2008 Overall Record: 6-6
2008 Big South Record (Finish): 1-4 (T-5th)
Final 2008 National Rankings: none

2009 Team Information
Basic Offense: Spread
Basic Defense: Multiple
Lettermen Returning: 55 (25 Off., 26 Def., 4 Spec.)
Lettermen Lost: 17 (8 Off., 8 Def., 1 Spec.)

Starters Returning: 19
Offense (7)
QB - Zach MacDowall (6-1, 195, R-Jr.)
RB - Eric O'Neal (5-10, 185, Jr.)
WR - Marquel Willis (6-1, 185, R-Jr.)
OL - Ryan Boehm (6-1, 295, R-Sr.)
OL - Seth Smalls (6-4, 310, R-Jr.)
OL - James Sims (6-4, 280, R-Sr.)
OL - Alex Wolfe (6-5, 280, R-Jr.)

Defense (8)
DL - Phillip Oboh (6-2, 220, Sr.)
DL - Robert Balkunas (6-1, 295, R-Jr.)
LB - Derrick Frasier (5-11, 215, Jr.)
LB - Chris Walls (6-2, 200, Jr.)
DB - Brandon Autry (5-10, 170, R-Sr.)
DB - Josh Norman (6-0, 190, So.)
DB - Keon Cunningham (6-1, 200, Jr.)
DB - Dominique Davenport (5-11, 200, R-Jr.)

Specialty (4)
K - Justin Durham (5-10, 155, R-Jr.)
P - Ben Erdman (6-2, 170, Jr.)
SS - Danny Bonifas (6-2, 210, R-Jr.)
LS - Jamie Perkinson (6-3, 245, Jr.)

Starters Lost: 8
Offense (4)
OL - Britt Leggett
WR - Jon Greene
WR - Trent Usher
RB - Arthur Sitton

Defense (3)
DL - Ronnie Mason
LB - D.J. Rice
DB - Whittmin Reese

Specialty (1)
KO - James Pallassino

Head Coach – David Bennett
7th season at Coastal Carolina
45-23 (.662)
HOMETOWN: Cheraw, S.C.
ALMA MATER (YEAR): Presbyterian (1984)
Quarterback at Presbyterian (1980-84)
Quarterback at Cheraw HS (1976-79)
Coastal Carolina - Head Coach (2002-present)
Catawba College - Head Coach (1995-01)
Catawba College - Assistant Coach (1990-94)
Newberry College - Assistant Coach (1988-89)
Goose Creek (SC) HS - Offensive Coordinator (1987)
Clemson - Graduate Assistant (1985-86)
Presbyterian - Student Assistant (1984)
• Led Coastal to an at-large berth in football playoffs (2006)
• Won 100th career game Oct. 27, 2007 vs. VMI
• Three-time AFCA Region Coach of the Year (2000, 2001, 2004)
• Big South Coach of the Year (2004)
• Two-time Eddie Robinson Award Finalist (2004, 2006)
• Sportexe Division I-AA Coach of the Year (2006)
• Three-time Big South Football Champions (2004, 2005, 2006)
• Four-time SAC Champion (1996, 1999, 2000, 2001)
• Four-time SAC Coach of the Year (1995, 1999, 2000, 2001)
• AFCA Coach of the Year (1995)
• Three NCAA Division II playoff appearances (1999, 2000, 2001)
• Division II national semifinalist (2001)
Kevin Brown (Catawba, 1998) - Offensive Coordinator/QBs
Curtis Walker (Catawba, 1992) - Defensive Coordinator/OLBs
Antoine Rivens (South Carolina, 1992) - Assistant Head Coach/DL
Hunter Spivey (Newberry, 1997) - Passing Game Coordinator/WRs
Jamie Snider (Catawba, 1991) - Offensive Line
Drew Watson (Newberry, 1989) - Safeties
Mike Castellano (Catawba, 1997) - Cornerbacks
Keith James (Winston-Salem State, 1989) - Running Backs
Gary Smallen (Furman, 1972) - Tight Ends/Recruiting Coordinator
Grant Cain (Catawba, 2003) - Inside Linebackers
Viktor Boyd (Catawba, 2000) - Strength Coach
Wilson Beaver - Equipment Manager
James Horne - Football Operations
Jeff Pounds - Football Athletic Trainer
Jill Kingston - Administrative Assistant
Lynn Mentzer - Team Assistant

Players to Watch:
R-Jr., QB, 6-2, 210
NOTES: Started nine of 11 games played in 2008 ... Finished with 2,064 passing yards and a 145.0 pass efficiency rating, the second-rated QB in the Big South ... Also was second in passing yards per game, yards per attempt and passing completions ... Two-time Big South Offensive Player of the Week ... Posted four games of 200+ passing yards, including a school record 382 yards against Liberty ... Also had 306 passing yards against Stony Brook, and added 80 rushing yards and one TD ... Had a streak of seven games with a TD pass.

Sr., DE, 6-2, 245
NOTES: 2008 First-Team All-Big South ... Played in all 12 games, starting six ... Was fourth on the team with 53 tackles, including 33 solos ... Led the team with 10.0 tackles for 37 yards of loss (eighth in league) and with 5.0 sacks (fifth in Big South) for 31 yards ... Also had one forced fumble and one blocked kick ... Recorded at least four tackles in seven contests, including a season-high eight tackles,
including 3.0 tackles for loss, one sack and one blocked kick at North Carolina A&T … Posted five tackles (all solos) with 2.0 sacks at PC.