Preseason expectations are nice, said second-year Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia, but it’s what happens on the field that counts most.
The Chanticleers, who earned a share of the Big South Conference championship last season, played in the postseason for the third time and won a playoff game for the first time in school history, are picked to win this year’s Big South title. Coastal Carolina, which finished the 2012 season ranked No. 24, is ranked 21st in this year’s coaches’ poll.
“We’re flattered about some of the preseason selections, but like anybody involved with the sport, even fans, that’s not going to affect the way anybody prepares. And it’s not going to affect the outcome of any of our games,” Moglia said. “Our mission is to put a team on the field that Coastal Carolina will be proud of. Winning is an important part of that. What it means is we have to give our best effort on the field.”
Coastal finished 5-1 in the league last season and was 8-5 overall, losing in the second round of the FCS playoffs. The Chanticleers played what Moglia said was the toughest schedule in the history of the school, and this year’s schedule won’t be any easier, including a November game at South Carolina.
“I think most people didn’t expect us to have a winning season, so we were certainly pleased with what happened a year ago,” Moglia said. “As far as this year goes, the biggest advantage is that the current team has a year under its belt and the coaches have been working together for 18 months. Most of the guys who are going to make real contributions this year have been with us for 18 months, so we have done a good job of laying the foundation.”
Coastal lost some key players last season, including all-conference quarterback Aramis Hillary, center Pat Williams, tight end David Duran and running back Jeremy Height.
But the Chanticleers also have some standout returnees. Wide receiver Matt Hazel, who had 61 catches for 799 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012, is the preseason Big South offensive player of the year. Junior linebacker Quinn Backus, who had 139 total tackles including 69 solo stops, is the Big South defensive player of the year.
Coastal Carolina returns four starters on the offensive line, the top three receivers and five of the top six tacklers.
“Our offensive has been playing well, but we need to be consistent when we get to the season,” Moglia said. “Defensively, we were inconsistent a year ago but we’ve made some changes and hopefully we will adapt and adjust. “