CONWAY — Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore leads one of the most potent offenses in FCS college football, one that has not really been contained by any defense yet this season and one that does what it does as well as anybody in the country.
The No. 11-ranked Seawolves are fourth nationally in rushing yards per game (298.2), have one running back in senior Miguel Maysonet who has more than twice as many rushing yards (888) as any other player in the Big South Conference and another in junior Marcus Coker who was the leading rusher at Iowa last season before transferring.
And on the other side this week is a Coastal Carolina defense that allowed a staggering 399 rushing yards when it last took the field, two Saturdays ago at Appalachian State.
That said, Priore doesn’t see much relevance between any of that and made a point to mention that he more or less ignored the Appalachian State game as he scouted the Chanticleers this week in advance of the teams’ matchup Saturday at Brooks Stadium.
“App State’s a very different offense than us,” Priore said. “They spread the stuff out to run the ball, they’re an option-attack team. Their quarterback rushes for a lot of yards. So obviously we watched the game, but our focal point on attacking their defense will not be schematically the same as what App State did. You’ve got to do what you do. …
“I think they defend what we do very well, and we’re going to have to play very well and very physical to be successful.”
CCU head coach Joe Moglia and defensive coordinator Clayton Carlin made the same point this week as to the stark difference between the rushing attacks of the Mountaineers and Seawolves, but it remains to be seen if any of that matters.
The fact is, the Chants (2-3) have struggled against the run, have more to the point struggled mightily against Stony Brook’s rushing attack the last two years and now face perhaps their toughest challenge of the season as they look to avoid the program’s first four-game losing streak.
“They certainly move the ball on the ground better than anybody that we’ve played so far. They’re very effective with it,” Moglia said. “They have real size and strength in their offensive line – tough guys. They’ve got an outstanding back. This is, I think, a genuine draft choice. And then his backup, Coker, he was the second-leading rusher in the Big 10. He’s a house to bring down. … They’re going to be a challenge for us.”
Which is nothing new for the Chants at this point as they play their third ranked FCS team in the last four games with the other matchup in that span coming on the road against FBS foe Toledo.
It’s only halfway through the season, but it’s fair to say the Chants’ playoff hopes are likely on the line this week.
Stony Brook (5-1) is the defending Big South champion, the overwhelming favorite to win the league again and the only team in the conference to this point with a winning record. With an at-large bid unlikely for Coastal, it would need to win the regular-season title to earn a postseason berth.
Even if they won’t say it, that’s the reality.
“Anytime you play a conference game, playoffs are on the line,” senior tight end David Duran said. “I don’t think they’re on the line anymore this week than they would be any other week, because as you all know anything’s possible in this conference. We’ve seen that over the last few years. It’s just another conference game against a good opponent.”
A very good opponent with a history of success in this matchup. Coastal is 0-4 all time against Stony Brook and the last two have not been pretty.
On their last trip to Brooks Stadium in 2010, the Seawolves scored the first 31 points and were led by 193 yards and three touchdowns from Maysonet. Last season at Stony Brook, playing on a wet and cold evening on Long Island, the Chants never adjusted to the weather conditions and were plowed over 42-0 while being outgained 446-73. Maysonet again had a big day with 191 yards and three scores as part of a 446-yard rushing effort for the Seawolves.
That game may well have been the death knell for former coach David Bennett, who was relieved of his duties after the season. But there hasn’t been much talk this week about that last meeting.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not really thinking about last year because last year was probably one of the craziest games I’ve ever played in so I’m not really dragging last year into this year,” senior defensive tackle Johnny Hartsfield said.
And there is truth to the notion that it’s a different season, different circumstances and the Chants and Seawolves are different teams. The only problem for Coastal is it seems like Stony Brook is even better this year and, with a win over FBS foe Army and its lone loss coming at Syracuse, looking like a legitimate FCS championship contender.
Needless to say, this is not an ideal matchup for a team looking to bounce back from a tough stretch. But the Chants have had two weeks now to address their woes and regroup for the second half of the season.
“We needed that bye week,” Hartsfield said. “We needed to sit back and look in the mirror, look at ourselves and know what we need to work on, and that bye week gave us plenty of time to do so.”
Saturday afternoon, they’ll show just how successful they were in those regards.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318.