September 2, 2009

Chants focused on run

Among Coastal Carolina's deficiencies in 2008, a 6-6 season, was the Chanticleers inability to stop the run.

Coastal allowed a Big South Conference low 187.2 passing yards per contest. But, the Chanticleers were fifth in the conference in rush defense with 167.8 yards allowed per game.

"When anybody and everybody can run on you, there's no need to pass," said Josh Hoke, the Myrtle Beach Sun News' Coastal Carolina beat writer. "The last two years that has been the knock on them, defensively the inability to stop the run."

Entering the 2009 season, Coastal Carolina's defensive front four will dictate just how good the team can be.

"If you look at that team, ultimately how good they'll be is how good that front four plays," Hoke said. "If those kids come to play and they accept their roles and eat blocks, especially the two guys inside, if they eat blocks, this team can be very good. If they don't play well up front they're not going to be very good."

Phillip Oboh, a first team all-Big South honoree, and Quinton Davis likely will man the end positions while Robert Balkunas is expected to start at nose tackle and Chad McField and Dexter Holman will compete for the other tackle spot.

Up front, the Chanticleers aren't big, but they're quick.

Oboh stands 6-foot-2, 245-pounds, Davis is 6-foot-2, 240-pounds, Balkunas is 6-foot-1, 290-pounds, McField is 6-foot-1, 280-pounds and Holman is 6-foot-2, 280-pounds.

"I'm not going to say they are in the same realm as Appalachian State, but they built their team the same way," Hoke said. "They get smaller guys that can run; they've built a defense on speed."

Oboh, who recorded 53 tackles and a team-high five sacks last season, will be a load for Kent State's offensive tackles to handle.

"He is a guy that when he got here was 220-pounds, could have played outside linebacker, but they put his hand down. Slowly he's gained weight, he's still a guy that can retain speed; he's pretty good at the point of attack against the run," Hoke said. "He's not a huge guy--he's about 240-245 pounds--but their best edge rusher; a kid that really worked hard in the offseason. It's going to be interesting to see if he develops into a role where he can be an 8-10 sack kind of guy. Definitely coming off the edge, he's their best pass rusher."

The Chanticleers will use multiple fronts to attempt to slow down Kent State running back Eugene Jarvis and to try and confuse redshirt sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan.

"If they can force Jarvis outside maybe they've got a chance," Hoke said. "They're very multiple on defense. They bring a lot of blitzes from a lot of different places. Morgan is an inexperienced quarterback; is he going to be used to picking up guys that are coming from all different directions?"

Junior linebacker Derrick Frasier returns as the Chanticleers' leading tackler. The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder posted 67 tackles and one sack last fall. He'll be joined by 5-foot-11, 230-pound redshirt sophomore Desmond Steward (30 tackles) and Chris Walls, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior. Walls posted 58 tackles as a sophomore.

In the secondary, Josh Norman and Marcus Lott are expected to start at cornerback while Dominique Davenport and Carlton Mitchell will line up at safety.

Norman, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound sophomore, made 35 stops and picked off two passes while starting seven of 12 games last season. Lott, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound sophomore, started three of 12 games last season. He also posted 35 tackles and picked off a pass. Davenport, a 5-foot-11, 210-pound redshirt junior, started four games last season before suffering a season-ending injury. In just four games he managed 39 tackles. Mitchell, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound redshirt junior, will make the first start of his career.

Backup safeties Brian Sanders, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior, and Keon Cunningham, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior, provide plenty of depth at the position. Cunningham posted 42 tackles and a team-high three interceptions in 10 starts last year and Sanders had 31 tackles and a pick in 12 games.

That experienced secondary could present problems for Morgan and his wide receivers, but only if the Chanticleers can slow down the Golden Flashes' rushing attack.

"They've got a lot of experience back in the secondary; there are some kids in the secondary that can play," Hoke said. "Ultimately, it's just been a case of 'if we can run the ball on somebody, let's just run the ball instead of trying to throw.'"


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