Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's still a getting-to-know-you feeling
across Big South Conference football.
One year after Coastal Carolina (Joe Moglia) and Liberty (Turner Gill) brought
in new head coaches, Charleston Southern (Jamey Chadwell) and Gardner-Webb
(Carroll McCray) have first-year skippers. And the Big South only has six
teams this season with Stony Brook's departure to CAA Football.
Monmouth will spend 2013 as an FCS independent before joining the Big South
Despite winning at least a share of five of the last six Big South titles,
Liberty is still seeking its first trip to the FBS playoffs. With Stony Brook
out of the picture, basically only Coastal Carolina stands in the way of the
All-Big South back Aldreakis Allen had a 1,000-yard season despite being only
second on Liberty in carries. This season, he will be the featured back.
McCray has to figure out the offensive line at Gardner-Webb, but his D-line
will be terrific with the return of ends Preston Pemasa and Maurice Dickson
and tackle Matt Goods, who have each earned at least one All-Big South honor.
There are a lot of "what ifs" with the VMI offense, which was among the worst
in the FCS last season. If third-year quarterback Eric Kordenbrock can become
consistent. If a somewhat deep running backs corps can produce well. If Dexter
Bridge can become the wide receiver that the Keydets coaches had hoped for
during his freshman season in 2011.
There may not be a problem of missed tackles this season. There wasn't a
senior among the top eight players in tackles per game last year. In fact,
there were only two seniors (one from Stony Brook) among the top 26 in the
conference. Pretty amazing.
OH, YES, THEM AGAIN
And again. And again. Gardner-Webb linebacker Tanner Burch ranked second in
the FCS with 12.6 tackles per game last year.
Former Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman, now with the Carolina
Panthers, called his former teammate, Matt Hazel, the best wide receiver he
has ever gone against. Hazel returns to build on his 19 career touchdown
Liberty would benefit greatly from the return of cornerback/return specialist
Kevin Fogg and left guard Malcolm Boyd from injury.
Coastal Carolina is replacing All-Big South quarterback Aramis Hillary with
Alex Ross, who subbed in for one start last season against Gardner-Webb and
accounted for 404 yards of total offense and three touchdown passes.
Gardner-Webb sophomore cornerback Ivan Toomer has both size (6-foot-1, 198
pounds) and speed (4.38 seconds in 40-yard dash) to become a standout in the
A 6-foot-4 safety, Presbyterian's Nick Newton showed flashes as a true
freshman in 2011. After redshirting this past season, he will take on a large
role for the Blue Hose.
With Charleston Southern going to a spread option attack under Chadwell,
sophomore-to-be wide receiver Larry Jones III expects to build on a 21-catch
Trying to win the right to run Charleston Southern's spread are senior
quarterback Malcolm Dixon, who helped the Buccaneers to a .500 mark in the Big
South, and sophomore Briar Van Grunt, who had the starting job until he
suffered a season-ending injury.
Having lost a lot of wide receiver, Liberty needs to find multiple playmakers
out of a group led by unheralded Jaquan Glover and Darrin Peterson.
Neither Tamyn Garrick nor Kaleb Griffin settled the quarterback position at
Presbyterian. Incoming freshman Heys McMath hopes to jump into the mix this
summer. The Blue Hose were winless in conference play this past season.
SPRING PRACTICE DATES
Charleston Southern: March 19-April 13
Coastal Carolina: March 15-April 13
Gardner-Webb: March 19-April 13
Liberty: March 19-April 18
Presbyterian: March 12-April 9
VMI: April 3-May 1
The Sports Network