After the wildest offseason the Coastal Carolina football program has seen in its decade of existence, the countdown is now officially on for the Chanticleers.
With less than a month until their Sept. 1 season-opener against North Carolina A&T, the Chants open preseason camp Thursday evening under the leadership of first-year head coach Joe Moglia.
The tumultuous ouster of longtime coach David Bennett and surprising hire of Moglia fueled plenty of debate and discourse since December, but the focus now returns to the field.
And with that in mind, here are the five most important storylines to monitor over the next month as the Chants prep for the start of a new era.
A new voice
Moglia, an assistant coach at Lafayette and Dartmouth in the late 1970s and early ’80s before transitioning out of football and going on to run TD Ameritrade, now gets the opportunity to head his own program.
Hired in late December, Moglia has had seven months – including spring practice – to introduce himself and his new coaching staff to the roster he inherited, but preseason camp is a different beast from spring ball. The Chants have a month to continue assimilating into new offensive and defensive systems and finish etching out the depth chart.
All the while, many eyes will continue to be on the new head coach and how he runs his program.
A new way
With new coordinators this season, the Chants intend to do things a little differently on both sides of the ball, and well, implementing a new system can be a process.
Moglia complimented senior quarterback Aramis Hillary’s knowledge of the new offense, which offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude has described as a “multiple spread attack.”
Defensively, new coordinator Clayton Carlin has said his focus is on stopping the run and hitting the quarterback. Those weren’t often the Chants’ two strengths last year, and with depth issues across the defense, it will be interesting to see how quickly Carlin can mold his unit.
The old Andrae?
Star linebacker Andrae Jacobs later admitted he was more bothered by a nagging groin injury last fall than he ever let on during the season.
He was still productive, tying for the team lead with 10 tackles for loss, but overall his numbers were down. Jacobs had racked up 104 total tackles and 12 tackles for loss as the Big South Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, and on a defense that lost two of its steadiest senior performers in safety Marcus Lott and cornerback Josh Norman (now with the Carolina Panthers), the Chants will surely hope Jacobs is back to his full abilities in his senior season.
Back for more
All-conference tight end David Duran was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after playing in only four games last season before undergoing shoulder surgery. He said last week he’s feeling “close to 100 percent,” and if so, he should be quite the asset.
A two-time first-team All-Big South selection, the 6-foot-5 Duran has 58 career receptions for 820 yards at Coastal, but he often seemed underused in the offense the last few seasons. With a new coaching staff and a repaired shoulder, perhaps the sure-handed veteran might become more of a focal point in the passing game this year.
The strength of his shoulder and his role in this new offense will be worth keeping an eye on this month.
It starts up front
Moglia has said repeatedly this offseason that depth along the offensive line is one of his key concerns, and the Chants tried to help that cause this week by bringing in Washington State transfer Joe Kaleta (6-foot-8, 315 pounds).
Still, with two veteran starters gone from last season and two others switching positions – the latest depth chart lists junior Jamey Cheatwood at left guard and sophomore Chad Hamilton at left tackle in a flip of roles – Coastal will have much to prove up front.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.