The return of head coach Joe Moglia will benefit Coastal Carolina’s football team in many ways.
Not the least of which is it allows associate head coach and offensive coordinator Jamey Chadwell to focus solely on his spread option offense this season.
Chadwell was the interim head coach in Moglia’s absence last year, taking over control of the team on the eve of the season’s first practice when Moglia announced he would be taking a medical leave for the entire 2017 season.
Moglia took a medical sabbatical to treat a condition that was causing inflammation in and damage to his lungs. and returned to his post in early January.
“I put Jamey in a tough spot last year because we didn’t make the announcement about my medical problem until about a week before we opened, so he had to shift and adjust last year,” Moglia said. “. . . Whenever you get a chance just to really focus on something, you’re always going to be a little better at that.
“I think Jamey just being able to focus on the offense, that’s 100 percent going to help him regarding his focus and help the offense.”
Coastal averaged 23.7 points per game last year with 345 yards of offense on average – 156 rushing and 189 passing on just 13.2 completions per game.
“I think now it really allows him to focus on his craft,” starting quarterback Kilton Anderson said. “He’s definitely more locked in and honed in on his responsibilities and it’s allowing him to be able to see the whole field and communicate better with us and the entire offense, so I think it has been good. The synergy we’ve had this year, this spring and this fall camp is 10 times better and I think it shows.”
While Chadwell can concentrate on the offense, the Chants are debuting a new defensive coordinator Saturday in Marvin Sanders.
Moglia spent two years on the coaching staff at Nebraska with Sanders in 2009-10 when he first returned to coaching from the business world, and brought Sanders to the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2011.
Sanders was defensive coordinator at North Carolina for three seasons (2004-06) and has a total of 23 years of collegiate coaching experience. Since 2012, he was a head coach at a Los Angeles High School for four years and participated in an NFL minority fellowship with the Los Angeles Rams last summer.
“I learned more from Marvin than I did from any [other assistant] on the [Nebraska] staff,” Moglia said. “I think he’s an outstanding football coach, an outstanding secondary guy, and I think he’s an outstanding defensive coordinator.
“. . . What we’re doing and how we’re doing it is totally different from what we did last year, or frankly since I’ve been here. Our defense has improved from where we’ve been in the past.”
Coastal allowed 34 points and 411 yards per game last season in Mickey Matthews’ final season as defensive coordinator. Matthews, who won a national FCS title as the head coach of James Madison, retired following the 2017 season.
Sanders is employing a base 4-3 defense with four down linemen, three linebackers and four players in the secondary.
“It’s more detail-oriented, the most detail-oriented I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” CCU senior cornerback Anthony Chesley said. “It’s about tackling when you get there. Last year we had a great deal of missed tackles, so that has been one of our biggest emphasis is tackling.”
Chesley said there will be more interchangeable parts in the secondary.
“There’s a lot more flexibility in terms of DBs, corners and safeties all having the same assignments but different positions,” Chesley said. “At any time I can go to nickel, I can go to corner, I can go to safety.”
Coastal may see more of Conway High graduate Bryan Edwards than it wants on Saturday.
In addition to being South Carolina’s top returning wide receiver from 2017, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior is listed atop the Gamecocks depth chart at punt returner.
Edwards has yet to return a kick in his USC career, but has been competing with Shi Smith and Nick Harvey for the duties in fall camp and has come out the frontrunner.
“We’ve got some guys that we have confidence in. It’s more than we’ve ever had. But Bryan right now I’d say has distanced himself a little bit,” USC coach Will Muschamp said at a press conference. “He’s a big strong guy that’s hard to tackle, especially in the open field.”
Edwards has been a starter every game he’s been healthy the past two years and has more than 1,000 career receiving yards.
“Bryan returned kicks at Conway,” Muschamp said. “He’s got really good ball judgment. The situation our first year, we really wanted to go to him, but that’s when we had some soft tissue issues with him. Never really could feel comfortable getting him out there all the time.”
If anyone in Saturday’s game has an issue with the playing surface, they can blame Beyonce and Jay-Z.
The field at Williams-Brice had to be replaced following the pop power couple’s concert at the stadium last Tuesday.
On Monday, crews trucked in sod from Sugar Hill, Ga., and more than 90,000 square feet of Bermudagrass was installed, Clark Cox, USC’s assistant athletics director in charge of turf and landscaping services told the Associated Press.
Muschamp, who reportedly attended the concert with his players, doesn’t believe the field will be an issue.
“I think it will be fine. It looks great to me. I walked on it [Monday] and it looked awesome. And we did plan this,” Muschamp said. “. . . They do this in almost every NFL stadium. They have a concert on a Saturday or Sunday, they have a lay and play turf, they put it down and seven days later they play on it. It’s a phenomenal concept.”