The San Diego Padres thought so highly of Terrance Owens’ raw athleticism that they selected the Toledo quarterback in the 40th round of Major League Baseball’s amateur draft last June even though the strong-armed 6-foot-4 lefty reportedly hasn’t played baseball since his freshman year of high school.
Unfortunately for Coastal Carolina and the rest of the Rockets’ opponents this season, though, Owens decided to stick with his primary sport for the time being and seems intent on proving that he might have a future throwing footballs as well.
And as the Chants travel to play Toledo on Saturday night for their annual guaranteed-money game against an FBS foe, Owens and the Rockets’ proficient offensive attack will be waiting.
“Their quarterback’s a difference-maker,” CCU defensive coordinator Clayton Carlin said simply. “He makes very smart decisions. He hasn’t thrown an interception in 194 attempts, so that’s a pretty smart guy. If you haven’t thrown a pick in 194 attempts, you’re doing the right reads and making smart decisions.”
While the Padres were intrigued as to what Owens might be able to do throwing a baseball, the junior quarterback has any number of stats that speak to his prowess with the pigskin.
Last season, Owens set a Mid-American Conference record by completing 72.2 percent of his passes and ranked sixth among all FBS quarterbacks in passing efficiency. The only quarterbacks ahead of him on that list were big names like Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Kellen Moore, Case Keenum and Andrew Luck. Not bad company.
Through three games this season, he’s thrown for 737 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. And as Carlin mentioned, Owens has managed to throw 194 straight passes overall without one landing in the hands of the other team.
“Good athletes, the only times they get themselves in trouble are when they make [poor] decisions with their mind,” CCU head coach Joe Moglia said. “This kid, I think, seems to do a pretty good job of making decisions. He does a pretty good job of reading what he needs to read. He’s a good athlete, and he’s a handful.”
That presents a particularly tough challenge for a Coastal Carolina team that has shown cracks in its secondary the last two weeks while allowing Furman to sling its way to 19 fourth-quarter points and Eastern Kentucky to complete an efficient 13-of-18 passes for 225 yards.
So senior cornerback Dontavais Johnson knows what to expect this week.
“I think it’s going to be a big test. They like to pass 90 percent of their offense,” he said. “… I’m ready for the challenge. They’re going to come at me a lot, and I’m going to step up to the plate and I think the rest of the secondary is too.”
The Rockets went 9-4 last season – including a win over Air Force in the Military Bowl – and have sustained that momentum through a 2-1 start this fall. Their lone loss came in overtime at Arizona in the season opener, and through three weeks they’re averaging 438 yards per game (albeit while allowing 500.3 per game).
More to the point, though, this marks the sixth time in program history that the Chants have played against an FBS opponent, and the previous endeavors have not been competitive. Coastal has scored only 13 points in those five games against the likes of Penn State, Kent State, Clemson, West Virginia and Georgia and got trounced 59-0 last year by the Bulldogs in Athens, Ga.
But this game Saturday night at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio, will earn the Coastal athletic department $375,000 – an important chunk of the annual operating budget – and so the Chants will take it as the next challenge on their schedule.
“We’re out there for one mission,” senior running back Jeremy Height said. “And that’s to play the best that we can, go out and perform and show people what we’ve got.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.