Coastal Carolina junior offensive lineman Jack Flood had a restless and worrisome Sunday night.
While Flood remained in the Myrtle Beach area this past weekend, his parents and 17-year-old sister were at their home in Coral Gables, Fla., just south of Miami, as Hurricane Irma plowed through south Florida.
He lost contact with his family for the night, but was relieved to hear from them Monday morning, safe and sound.
“I was kind of worried about them, and they kind of got worried after, but they ended up staying,” Flood said. “They’re just blessed that no real bad damage happened to the house.”
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The family stayed with a neighbor who had a generator immediately following the hurricane and were all in a hotel Wednesday because their home was still without power. It’s estimated that most of Dade County, which includes Miami and Coral Gables, will be without power for up to another week.
Flood’s uncle who lives in Tampa also made it through the storm without major issues.
Flood is one of 13 CCU football players whose listed hometowns are in Florida, so there was an anxious day or two for all those players, who generally remained in the Myrtle Beach area.
The family of senior linebacker Jarius McMillan of Orlando was also impacted by the storm.
His parents, two younger brothers and a grandmother in Orlando remained at his parents’ home – which was undamaged – through the storm.
“Orlando is always safe,” said McMillan, who avoided tropical storm conditions in Myrtle Beach by traveling to Columbia with his girlfriend. “They were ready. They had a ton of water and a generator. They lost power for two days but it’s back on.”
McMillan planned to drive home to Orlando following practice last Thursday in advance of the storm. But Coastal’s football team was on call beginning Friday for a possible early flight last weekend for their game Saturday against UAB in Birmingham, Ala. The team was prepared to fly out if the storm track took the eye near or directly through Myrtle Beach.
“I was going to go until they told us we possibly were getting on a plane to go to Alabama,” McMillan said. “I wanted to go see my family because that’s the only bye week we get [until late November]. I was mad. I wanted to go home to see my family.”
Classes were canceled at CCU from Thursday night through Tuesday and school officials considered closing the campus if the storm approached, which would have forced students in dorms or campus housing to evacuate. But the campus remained open with the exception of a few hours late Monday.
In its first week as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, Coastal earned one of the conference’s weekly honors, as senior running back Osharmar Abercrombie was named the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week.
In his first game following the graduation of mentor and current Denver Broncos RB De’Angelo Henderson, Abercrombie rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns, ripping off a few highlight runs, including one in which he spun through a tackle for a 45-yard gain. He had 91 yards on eight carries in the second half, when CCU broke a tie and pulled away from UMass.
“That’s what we strive for, we want our running backs to get player of the week because we know if they get player of the week, we’re doing our jobs,” senior tackle Rodney Mitchell said.
“… We want the other running backs as well to get the same stats as him. So if we’ve got two or three getting 150 we know we’ve had a great game.”
Though it hasn’t moved the ball much through the air, Coastal has rushed for more than 200 yards in 12 of its last 13 games, including four 300-yard games with 321 against UMass.
“We had a plan and stuck to it. We had a goal of 30 knockdowns as a full offense and we reached our goal,” Mitchell said. “From an offensive line standpoint, coach [Patrick] Covington preaches being physical, so this week they’re a lot bigger but that’s nothing to us. We’re going to be physical and ready to go.”
Bye bye Week 2
The Chanticleers have won their past five games coming off a bye week, but none of those have come in the second week of the season. Moving up from FCS this year, the Chants were behind in scheduling compared to other FBS teams so they took games when they could.
Chadwell would have preferred the first bye to come midseason, but utilized the week nonetheless.
“The positive part of it, you can really continue to work on a lot of things that maybe coming out of fall camp you weren’t where you needed to be,” Chadwell said. “For us, getting some other guys in some key positions to try to get them more reps, we were really able to work on that.”
The Chants practiced three days last week and returned to practices Sunday followed by another off day Monday. Chadwell said the team put an emphasis on special teams. “We really tried to cover a lot of situations that we deem important going forward,” he said.
The Chants now have 10 consecutive games before their next bye week in late November prior to the season finale.
Game time set
Coastal has an early noon kickoff (1 p.m. Eastern) at UAB on Saturday, and has set the start for its next home game on Sept. 23 against Western Illinois at 6:30 p.m.
It will be Youth Day at Brooks Stadium, so fans 18 and under can purchase tickets for $5 at Gate 4 on game day. The Chanticleer spirit teams will have a cheer and dance clinic for K-8 students from 9-noon in Kimbel Arena on Sept. 23 for $40, which includes football admission.
Keane gets nod
Myrtle Beach High graduate Tyler Keane will remain the starting quarterback on Saturday and graduate student Dalton Demos will also likely spell Keane from time to time Saturday.
But at least one more quarterback might see the field, as the Chants have seven that were considered for the starting job through fall practices.
“The open week we were able to work some other guys in some situations where we think they might help us going forward,” CCU offensive coordinator and interim head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “At this point I’m not saying you’re going to see a third one at this time, but we are working towards that where we can use a guy that can sort of do a little bit of both for us. Once they continue to improve and continue to learn the system and what we’re trying to get done, I can see us doing that.”
Keane, a senior, is 7-1 as a starter over the past two seasons, but the Chants haven’t thrown for 100 yards in four straight games going back to the final three games in 2016. Demos was used primarily as a runner in CCU’s 38-28 win over Massachusetts on Sept. 2, rushing for two touchdowns.
“Hopefully one of those guys will eventually take over, and I think they will,” Chadwell said. “It’s going to take us a little time because we’re still learning each other, we’re still learning what we’re good at and what we’re not.”
CCU Players from Florida
Kilton Anderson, junior quarterback, Naples.
Jack Flood, junior offensive lineman, Miami
Ja’ree Tolbert, junior defensive tackle, Miami
Amir Howard, redshirt freshman safety, Ocala
Jonathan Clayton, redshirt freshman defensive tackle, Jacksonville
Brayden Matts, freshman safety, Jacksonville
John Mays III, redshirt freshman offensive lineman, Jacksonville
Michael McFarlane, freshman tight end, Orlando
Jarius McMillan, senior linebacker, Orlando
Brock Merritt, junior offensive lineman, Longwood
Laqavious Paul, sophomore linebacker, Lake City
Michael Peppin, freshman offensive lineman, Bunnell
E.J. Porter, freshman linebacker, Atlantic Beach