Coastal Carolina

Why defense will be a priority at CCU’s spring football practices

Members of the Coastal Carolina football team go through drills Saturday during the Chants’ first day of spring football practice at Brooks Stadium in Conway.
Members of the Coastal Carolina football team go through drills Saturday during the Chants’ first day of spring football practice at Brooks Stadium in Conway. For The Sun News

Last year it was the offense.

With offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude leaving for the same position at Temple following the 2016 season, and Jamey Chadwell coming from Charleston Southern to replace him, spring practices were vital to Coastal Carolina’s offensive players and assistants to become familiar with the new facets of the offense.

This year it’s the defense.

With Mickey Matthews retiring after two years as CCU’s defensive coordinator, and former North Carolina defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders replacing him, the team’s 14 spring practices will be particularly beneficial for the players and assistants on defense to become familiar with Sanders’ philosophies, techniques and terminology.

Spring practices began Saturday and will continue through the team’s intrasquad spring game on April 6.

“The challenge is that you have new terminology and you have a new system,” Coastal head coach Joe Moglia said. “But it’s still football and we still have a standard we expect the guys to live up to. … The kids do need to learn the system, but other than that I feel pretty good about it.”

The Chants have eight returning starters on offense but just five on defense, and one of those – rising junior defensive end Myles White – has been suspended indefinitely from the team following an arrest Tuesday on a charges of third degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from an alleged incident in 2016.

So the Chants may be down to four returning defensive starters. “This spring is perfect because we have to get used to the terminology, understand coach Sanders’ style as well as all of the other new coaches’ style, so this is an important spring for us,” said senior defensive back and returning starter Anthony Chesley. “It’s just a matter of adjusting.”

Sanders was the defensive coordinator at North Carolina for three seasons (2004-06) and has a total of 23 years of collegiate coaching experience, though his last full-time coaching job was head coach at Los Angeles' Loyola High School from 2013-16.

Saturday’s practice was also the first for Moglia since last spring, as he missed the entire 2017 season while on leave to address a medical issue that involved a bacterial infection that caused inflammation in his lungs. Chadwell stood in as the interim coach and Moglia returned to his head coaching position on Jan. 5.

“I was really excited to come out. I really was,” Moglia said. “I think sometimes you come out and you know you’ve got a lot of work to do at practice, you’re kind of focused and you’re concentrating. But I was excited this morning. I was excited when I got up, I was excited on the drive in, I was excited coming out here. So that part was good.”

Moglia was asked if he believes he became a better coach after a season of watching his team play home games from the press box and dealing with some aspects of the program from a distance.

“Well I’m not coughing and hacking so much. I’m doing a better job of sleeping. So I think from that perspective I’m in better shape than I was in the past,” Moglia said. “I feel pretty good. But I’m the same coach that I’ve always been.”

The team was happy to have Moglia back and leading the program.

“We’re at a whole new level from last year,” senior wide receiver Omar Black said. “We’re getting back to how things were. Coach Chadwell did a great job last year. Coach Moglia is going to be here to help him, and I think we’re going to get back on the right track.”

Moglia watches the practices that are at Brooks Stadium from an elevated spot in the grandstands. “The biggest difference is fixing the details,” Chesley said. “Coach Moglia sits up at the top of the stadium so he has a bird’s eye view, so he sees every little thing and takes notes. I think that’s the perfect view opposed to on the field because you get to see the minor corrections that need to happen. I would say that’s the biggest fix.”

Moglia said despite the total of about a dozen returning starters on offense and defense, just about every position is available if a player shows he deserves it in practices.

“There are so many positions that are legitimately open,” Moglia said. “Even some guys that played a lot last year, that doesn’t mean they played real well last year. So I think there are many positions that are really legitimately open and it would be too early, it would be silly actually for me to say this is what it looks like now. I’ll have a better feel after probably 10 practices.”

The quarterback position has largely been a revolving door for the past two years, primarily because of injuries to multiple players, though rising senior Kilton Anderson started seven games last year and completed 67 of 105 passes for 809 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, and led the Chants to wins in their final two games to close out a 3-9 season. Moglia said he begins the spring in the No. 1 spot at QB, but will have to earn the job. Black and the team’s other receivers are hoping to build a rapport with a quarterback that they can take into the season after so much turnover behind center.

“Coach Moglia and coach Chadwell, they’ve always taught us to adapt and adjust, and with that principle we can handle anything that’s thrown at us,” Black said. “It’s just part of the game. There are different things that go on that you’ve just got to adapt and adjust to.”

Moglia believes he has identified areas in which the Chants need to improve this spring.

“It really doesn’t matter what side of the ball you’re on,” Moglia said. “What we’re trying to do is focus on the things we really need to do best, and then understand why we may not be doing those, prioritize what our mistakes might be and fix our mistakes. That’s true in every phase of the game.”

The Chants added six or seven enrollees in January who are getting an early start to their football careers, and getting an early start getting to know teammates, systems and terminology, as well as college classes and a new environment.

“Football-wise it’s a head start, but transition-wise I can appreciate guys maybe getting homesick, not any different than they might in August,” Moglia said. “It’s an advantage for August, but it might be a little tough sledding for them early on, and we’ve got to keep an eye on that.”

Football staff complete

Moglia has completed his 2018 football coaching staff with the hiring of Shawn Howe as defensive line coach.

Howe spent the last three seasons as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at NCAA Division II Dixie State University. Last season, Howe’s defense ranked 21st in the nation in fewest passing yards allowed (168.2 per game) and picked off 13 passes.

He was previously the defensive line coach at Humboldt State for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, where his 2014 unit led the nation in sacks and he coached one All-American and six all-conference performers.

Howe also worked with the Southern California program for two seasons – including the 2012 season with current CCU defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders – as a defensive assistant in 2011 and graduate assistant working with the defensive line in 2012.

He has also held positions at Gardner-Webb, Tennessee, Memphis, N.C. State and his alma mater, Rocky Mountain College, from which he graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health.

Basketball recap

The CCU men’s and women’s basketball teams finish the regular season Saturday at Appalachian State, with the women’s game beginning at 1 p.m. and men’s game that will be broadcast online on ESPN3 scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

The men (14-16) have won three consecutive games over South Alabama, Little Rock and Arkansas State to improve to 8-9 in the Sun Belt Conference standings, while the women (15-13) have won four of their past five to improve to 9-8 in the conference, with the only loss to Little Rock on the road last Thursday.

The Sun Belt Conference Tournaments begin next Tuesday in New Orleans.

Baseball hosting again

Two tournaments down, two to go for the CCU baseball team.

The Chants have already hosted the Brittain Resorts’ Baseball at the Beach and Invitational tournaments, and now host the Johnny Gardner Law Group Tournament this weekend and Environmental Staffing Chanticleer Classic next weekend.

Coastal has come out of its two early-season tournaments with additional wins over College of Charleston and UNC Wilmington – 10-5 Wednesday at Springs Brooks Stadium – 8-2 while outscoring opponents by an average of 8.5 to 3.7 per game.

This week’s event features Ball State, Maryland and Radford, and next week’s features High Point and Ohio State.

The 7-2 start is Coastal’s best since it opened 2010 with a 12-2 mark. It finished that season with a 55-10 record that included a loss in an NCAA Regional and two losses in an NCAA Super Regional.

The Chants have games against Wake Forest and Connecticut in addition to the tournaments before starting Sun Belt Conference play at Arkansas State from March 16-18 and hosting Clemson on March 20.

Volleyball adds assistant

Dottie Hampton has been hired as an assistant to CCU head volleyball coach Jozsef Forman after serving as the interim head coach at the University of South Carolina for the 2017 season following three seasons as a USC assistant coach.

She went 12-18 overall and 5-13 in SEC matches in her interim year. Hampton spent the 2013 season as an assistant coach at Butler, working offensively with the outside hitters and middle blockers. The Bulldogs went 24-8 overall and 11-5 Big East play, and three players earned All-Big East honors.

Chants earn POW’s

A trio of CCU athletes earned Player of the Week honors from the Sun Belt Conference.

In baseball, freshman righthander Anthony Simonelli made his college debut and first pitching appearance since his junior year of high school in 2016 because of an injury, and he shut down College Charleston in a 13-0 win. Simonelli didn’t allow a hit through 4  1/3 en route to seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and no walks with two strikeouts.

In softball, freshman Courtney Dean was named Co-Player of the Week after leading the Chants to two wins in the Chanticleer Showdown, going 9-for-15 for a .600 batting average, three stolen bases and a run batted in. Thus far in 2018, the Indian Trail, N.C., native is batting .519 with three homers, nine runs batted in and slugging percentage of .924.

In women’s tennis, Coastal Carolina sophomore Rylie Cox helped the Chanticleers to a 2-1 week with a pair of singles and doubles wins. Cox won 6-2, 6-3 at the No. 3 position against St. John's' Zofia Stanisz and 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at the No. 2 position against East Carolina's Lisa Hofbauer.

In doubles, she scored wins over St. John's and ECU before suffering her only loss against nationally ranked South Carolina. For the spring season, Cox is 5-2 in singles and 5-2 in doubles.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

Coastal Carolina football coaching staff

Name

Position

Joe Moglia

Head Coach

Jamey Chadwell

Associate Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks

Marvin Sanders

Defensive Coordinator, Cornerbacks

Curt Baldus

Defensive backs, Specialists, Special Teams-Punt Return

Patrick Covington

Offensive Line

Bill Durkin

Tight Ends & Tackles, Special Teams-PAT/FG

Ryan Goodman

Linebackers, Special Teams-FG Defense

T.J. Hollowell

Assistant Defensive Line, Defensive Ends

Shawn Howe

Defensive Line, Defensive Tackles

Newland Isaac

Running Backs

Willy Korn

Wide Receivers, Special Teams-Kickoff Return

George Glenn

Chief of Staff, Director of Football Operations

Rick Mueller

Executive Director of Player Personnel

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