CCU football notebook: Defense a definite concern at this point for Chanticleers

ryoung@thesunnews.comSeptember 29, 2012 

— Coastal Carolina defensive coordinator Clayton Carlin stood about 50 yards from the team bus Saturday night and reflected as best he could in the moment as he processed the Chanticleers’ deflating 55-14 loss at No. 17 Appalachian State.

His defense had allowed 684 yards – well more than Coastal had ever given up in any game – and the Mountaineers had wasted no time in piling on 41 points by the opening minutes of the third quarter.

And with the Chants now heading into a bye week, he said the onus is on him to find ways to put his players in better positions.

“The bye will come at a good time for us and give us time to evaluate our guys and evaluate what we’re doing and just continue to try to work and get better,” Carlin said, his face and voice wearing the strain of the last four quarters. “... You look at everything, and that’s what they bye week affords you to do. First of all, we’re got to look at what we’re doing as a defensive staff. We have to take a cold, hard look at ourselves to make sure we’re putting our guys in the best position where they can succeed and accentuate their strengths and try to keep them out of where they’re not very strong.”

Without seeing the film, he pointed to missed tackles and a continued vulnerability on the edges as the biggest points of concern Saturday night.

The Mountaineers did the bulk of their damage on the ground with 399 rushing yards, working the Chants from sideline to sideline but also finding gaps up the middle whether quarterback Jamal Jackson gave it to running back Steven Miller or kept it himself. The was a variety of looks in that regard, including a double pitch and one occasion where Jackson held the ball behind his back for a few seconds to successfully fool the defense before taking off with it.

Neither Carlin nor head coach Joe Moglia thought the Chants were defeated schematically, though.

“You can’t play anybody and have missed tackles,” Moglia said. “Early in the season, we had too many of them as far as the [North Carolina] A&T game goes. We still had too many of them as far as the Furman game goes. Then we started to really, truly show improvement. Today, I was afraid we took a step backwards. We’re going to need to go back to fundamentals on this.”

Jackson also managed to pass for 285 yards and three scores, though. One came on a 69-yard strike down the seam as receiver Sean Price was wide open in the middle of the field. Carlin said one of his cornerbacks had been picked off by a crossing blocker on that play.

“Without seeing the film, the missed tackles and losing leverage and losing the edge [were concerns], and then the big plays in the pass game just can’t happen,” he said. “We have to clean that up too.”

With this game obviously bumping the numbers up quite a bit, the Chants (2-3) have now allowed an average of 454.8 yards and 37.2 points per game through five weeks.

Duran returns

Senior tight end David Duran made his return after a three-game absence and estimated he played about 20-25 snaps after being sidelined with a turf toe injury the last few weeks.

He finished with just one catch, but it went for a 2-yard touchdown.

“I felt good. It felt good to be out there,” he said. “You know, as a team, obviously we didn’t play as well as we wanted to play, but I felt good to be back out there and get a catch under my belt again.”

The two-time All-Big South first-teamer missed most of last season after tearing the rotator cuff in his shoulder while diving for a catch. He had a similar moment early in the game Saturday while laying out for a pass, but he said his surgically-repaired shoulder survived the play just fine.

“I think that was the first time I dove for a ball in a while, at least since my shoulder was hurt,” he said. “But I was alright. It felt fine. I wish I could have came down with it.”

Mastromatteo sits again

Junior slot receiver Niccolo Mastromatteo missed his second straight game due to a rib injury after being considered a game-time decision.

“Niccolo should be fine,” Moglia said. “He probably could have played today, but we didn’t want to take a chance, and especially with the off week [coming up] that’s going to give him like three or four weeks to rest up. That’s going to be good rather than fool around with that today. His safety was the priority.”

Mastromatteo still ranks among the team leaders with 20 catches for 214 yards in three games played.

Freshman Tyrell Blanks continued to help fill the void and caught his second touchdown pass in as many weeks – a 20-yarder in the second quarter.

Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.

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