Ky’Jon Tyler hit the field last Saturday for the first punt return of his college career.
And Tyler made the most of it.
He returned the punt 80 yards for a touchdown to ignite Coastal Carolina and – more specifically – its special teams unit, which has made quite an impact already this season.
“It was a big play,” said Tyler, whose team beat in-state rival Furman 41-21 on Saturday. “That was great, one of the best things ever. My first punt return and taking it back 80 yards; it couldn’t be any better.”
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Chanticleers redshirt freshman Myles White has been a huge part of the team’s success on special teams. He blocked a field goal in the win over Furman, just a week after blocking another field goal and a punt in Week 3’s 27-26 loss to Jacksonville State.
“To be honest, I wasn’t even expecting to block it,” White said. “I just put my hands up and jumped and it happened.”
White has big goals this season, too.
“I want that record, to be honest with you,” said White, referring to the program record of four blocked kicks last season by fellow teammate Marcus Williamson. “As a team, we wanted to be undefeated but we’ll settle for 11-1.”
Coastal Carolina is 3-for-5 on two-point conversions this season and is 27-for-47 (.571) all-time in the five years since Joe Moglia took over at head coach. The Chants are also tied for third in the nation for blocked kicks with three, trailing only Monmouth (5) and Bryant (4).
I think our special teams is as good as anybody in the country, and better than the majority of the FBS schools. We take it seriously, we work at it, we spend time on it.
Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia
Coming up big as well has been punter Evan Rabon, who is averaging 40.17 yards per punt and is on pace to break the program record in the category. To put his numbers in perspective, no punter in Coastal Carolina history has ever had a punt average of over 40 yards.
And a big reason the Chants have found so much success on special teams is Moglia’s dedication to the unit. Special teams players spend extensive time honing their craft each week.
“I think our special teams is as good as anybody in the country, and better than the majority of the FBS schools,” Moglia said. “We take it seriously, we work at it, we spend time on it.”
Moglia also broke down how the special teams is run.
“We structure ourselves differently internally with unit coordinators with somebody in charge of each of the units as opposed to one overall special teams coordinator. If you have one overall special teams coordinator, usually he’s coaching another position and doesn’t get enough time to really do his job with all special teams,” Moglia said. “But we ask each coach to focus on one, and they do a great job with their particular units. We have a real system there, and we never spend less than 30 minutes on special teams in practice, we never spend less than 30 minutes on special teams meetings. And the staff has plenty of time to work on special teams.”
Coastal Carolina (3-1) took a big blow when Josh Stilley went down with a left knee injury in first half of the loss to Jacksonville State.
There was some hope that he may be able to play again this season, but Moglia said Wednesday that Stilley will definitively be out for the season.
“It’s unfortunate,” Moglia said. “But these things happen sometimes, and we have to move forward with what we got.”
Stilley was replaced by junior Tyler Keane, who has stepped up and is 18-for-30 passing for 259 yards and three touchdowns this season.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with his maturity, his poise, for somebody who was starting his first game. I think he handles himself very, very well on the field and does a good job executing,” Moglia said of Keane, a Myrtle Beach High product. “He doesn’t have a strong arm, but he has an accurate arm so we try to take advantage of that. But what I’ve been most impressed with is his poise.”
Meanwhile, backup Avery McCall – a true freshman out of Dillon High School – will likely miss the season with a hand injury, but Moglia said the team should know for sure in at least two or three weeks.
Should McCall be ruled out for the season, he would be eligible for medical redshirt status.
“If either happens, we could try to see it as some sort of positive,” Moglia said.
Despite all the troubles at quarterback, the Chants are still finding success and hope to keep it up as they host Charleston Southern at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Johnson returns from injury, makes immediate impact
Glad to just be on the field again, junior linebacker Shane Johnson did more than just his part in Saturday’s win.
Returning from an ankle injury that has hampered him since the team’s season-opening win over Lamar, Johnson had a team-high eight tackles and recorded a pass breakup to lead the Coastal Carolina defensive unit, which held in-state rival Furman to just 21 points.
“For me, I was just like, ‘Finally.’ I could finally get back on the field with my brothers,” Johnson said. “These guys, they missed me a little bit. They [told] me all the time. But those guys are awesome, I’m just glad to be back with them.”
But Johnson and the Chants defense will face a tall task in trying to contain No. 10 Charleston Southern’s high-powered offense.
“There’s no way to really prepare for [Charleston Southern]. We just have to stick to our keys and do what we do,” Johnson said. “We got our basics down, but it’s just like any other game to prepare for and we just dominate in what we do.”