Coastal Carolina-Bethune-Cookman game breakdown

November 23, 2012 

Breaking down the game

•  Series | First meeting

•  Weather | 63 degrees and sunny

Key number: 5

Bethune-Cookman ranks fifth among all FCS teams in total defense, holding opponents to 294.09 yards per game. Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia has said he believes the Wildcats will be the best defensive team the Chanticleers have played all season.

Key matchup

Senior quarterback Aramis Hillary vs. the Wildcats’ secondary. The Chants have displayed exceptional offensive balance over the second half of the season, but the recent success of Coastal’s rushing attack is due at least in part to the ever-present threat of the team’s passing game, which opponents have to account for at all times. Hillary has been sharp all season and has an impressive 17-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio – including at one point a program-record streak of 190 passes without an interception. But he faces a tough test Saturday against a Wildcats team that ranks third in the FCS with 19 interceptions.

Quarterback

Hillary was the runner-up for Big South Offensive Player of the Year honors and warranted that consideration while leading the league in total offense at 261.7 yards per game. He’s thrown for 2,133 yards and rushed for 484 yards over 10 games. … Bethune-Cookman is not much of a passing team. Sophomore Quentin Williams is averaging just 106.4 passing yards per game to go with an efficient 10-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio as the Wildcats’ primary quarterback. He has been a threat on the ground, however, rushing for 449 yards and three scores.

•  Edge | Coastal Carolina

Running back

Junior Isidore Jackson leads a multi-faceted Bethune-Cookman ground attack that ranks 10th among FCS teams in averaging 247.5 rushing yards per game. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Jackson has rushed for 992 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Three other Wildcats – including Williams – have all rushed for at least 449 yards as well. … Coastal doesn’t have the overall numbers to match the Wildcats, but over the last six games the Chants are averaging 271.5 rushing yards. Senior Jeremy Height has been the lead back all season, rushing for 754 yards on 5.5 per carry and 10 touchdowns, while senior Marcus Whitener has emerged as another dynamic option down the stretch – rushing for 277 yards (8.4 per carry) and six touchdowns in the last three games.

•  Edge | Push

Wide receiver

One of the most impressive stats produced by this potent Coastal offense this fall is that juniors Matt Hazel (49 catches for 615 yards and five touchdowns), Niccolo Mastromatteo (40-473-3) and DeMario Bennett (37-535-6) all rank in the top six on the program’s single-season records list for receptions. … When Bethune-Cookman does pass the ball, its go-to targets are seniors Eddie Poole (28-323-5) and KJ Stroud (26-293-1). The pair does present a bit of a matchup challenge as Poole is 6-foot-4 and Stroud is 6-foot-3.

•  Edge | Coastal Carolina

Offensive line

Coastal’s offensive line, which has had a terrific season paving the way for the Chants’ running backs, suffered a scare last week as sophomore left tackle Chad Hamilton sat out the second half with a nagging knee injury that flared up on him. Hamilton, a second-team All-Big South selection, has started every game this season and is expected to be a game-time decision. The Chants already lost junior left guard Jamey Cheatwood to a season-ending knee injury last month, and Moglia has often noted his concern about the team’s depth up front. Junior Will Middleton filled in for Hamilton last week. … Bethune-Cookman boasts considerable size up front, led by sophomore left tackle Terrance Hackney (6-foot-7, 300 pounds) and junior right tackle Alex Monroe (6-5, 305). Hackney, a transfer from Ole Miss, was a second-team all-conference pick last season. All five of the Wildcats’ starting offensive linemen are at least 6-foot-3 and both guards and tackles are at least 305 pounds.

•  Edge | Bethune-Cookman

Defensive line

Sophomore defensive end LeBrandon Richardson has been a force up front for the Wildcats, racking up 13 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, seven quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Senior defensive tackle Harold Love III has also wreaked havoc in the backfield with seven tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries. Overall, the front line has been stout for Bethune-Cookman, setting the tone for the team’s nationally-ranked defense. … Senior end Quinton Davis (7 TFLs, 4.5 sacks) and tackle Johnny Hartsfield received All-Big South honors, but Coastal has nonetheless been susceptible against the run while allowing 181.6 yards per game on the ground.

•  Edge | Bethune-Cookman

Linebacker

Sophomore Quinn Backus was named the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Year for a breakout season in which he led the conference with 123 total tackles while also tallying eight tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Paired with junior Mike McClure (74 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks), the Chants’ possess an exceptional linebacker duo that has been the strength of their defense. … Junior Jarkevis Fields leads Bethune-Cookman with 88 total tackles and has six tackles for loss, while senior Dawud Lane has 7.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions and junior Nesly Marcellon has 5.5 tackles for loss. It’s a solid unit, no doubt.

•  Edge | Coastal Carolina

Secondary

All four of Bethune-Cookman’s starting defensive backs have at least two interceptions. Sophomore free safety Nick Addison and junior strong safety D.J. Howard have three picks each and rank second and third on the team in total tackles, while junior cornerback Dion Hanks also has three picks, junior corner Tim Burke has two and both have combined for seven other pass break-ups. Coastal has yet to face a team with such a ball-hawking reputation. … The Chants are led in the back by senior cornerback Dontavais Johnson, who has four official interceptions and also picked off a two-point conversion pass and returned it to the other end zone last week.

•  Edge | Bethune-Cookman

Special teams

Coastal’s much-improved special teams unit this season has given the Chants an edge against most teams in this department, and that looks to be the case again this week. Sophomore Alex Catron is 8-of-10 on field goals and the Chants boast a strong return game with Mastromatteo handling punts (12.1 yards per return) and Height (21.2-yard average) and senior Tre Henderson (29.2) fielding kickoffs. … For Bethune-Cookman, junior Sven Hurd is just 6-of-13 on field goals and 2-of-7 on kicks of at least 30 yards. The Wildcats have not shown to be a major threat in the return game, either.

•  Edge | Coastal Carolina

Intangibles

Both teams come into this game surging. Coastal has won five straight games by at least 21 points, while Bethune-Cookman has won seven straight. It’s the third-ever playoff appearance for the Chants and fourth for the Wildcats as both teams are still looking to establish themselves on the national stage.

•  Edge | Push

Pick

Coastal Carolina 27-21

News and Notes

For comparison’s sake

While Coastal and Bethune-Cookman have never met on the football field, the teams do share one common opponent this season. And the results in that regard only further indicate this should be a close game.

The Chants opened their season with a 29-13 win over MEAC foe North Carolina A&T, while the Wildcats posted a 28-12 win over the same A&T team five weeks later.

All time vs. the MEAC

Coastal is 13-1 all-time against teams from the MEAC while playing a team from that conference each of the last 10 seasons.

All-time vs. ranked opponents

This marks Coastal’s fourth game of the season against a ranked FCS opponent as Bethune-Cookman checks in at No. 22 in the latest national poll by The Sports Network. The Chants are 0-3 against ranked teams this season – losing to Eastern Kentucky (now No. 21 and 8-3), Appalachian State (No. 7, 8-3) and Stony Brook (No. 10, 9-2) – and are 4-9 all time against ranked FCS foes.

Duran out

All indications are that senior tight end David Duran will be unavailable this week due to injury after falling hard on his shoulder last week.

Duran hadn’t been much of a factor in the passing game this fall with seven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns, but he was utilized as a key blocker.

Redshirt-freshman Thomas Pauciello would start in his place. He’s caught five passes for 111 yards and a touchdown and has shown flashes of potential as a capable 6-foot-6 target.

Watch party

Coastal is hosting a watch party for the playoff game inside The HTC Center prior to the Chants’ basketball game that evening.

Fans will need a ticket to the basketball game against Florida International to be able to enter, and doors will open at 1:45 p.m. The game, which is being broadcast on ESPN3.com, will be shown on the large video boards inside the arena.

By Ryan Young, ryoung@thesunnews.com

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