Five questions facing CCU as practice kicks off today

Coastal Carolina hits the fall practice field for the first time today under new coach Joe Moglia, and the uncertainty entering the 2012 season doesn’t stop there.

Even before former coach David Bennett was fired in favor of the Wall Street mogul, the Chanticleers were facing some serious question marks for the 2012 campaign.

With only 30 days until the Chants kick off the Moglia era on Sept. 1 against visiting North Carolina A&T, this month will be key for addressing these five areas of concern:

* Who’s the Boss?: Anytime there’s turnover at the top of a program, adjustments must be made. How quickly Coastal’s veterans adapt to not only the new man at the top but also to a new crew of assistants and systems will go a long way in determining the season ahead.

Considering that Moglia is the head coach of a college football program for the first time, rookie mistakes on his part must be kept to a minimum if the players, most of whom were recruited by the old-school style of Bennett, are sold on his CEO coaching approach.

* Where’s the beef?: Every team, regardless of who coaches it, is ultimately at the mercy of their offensive line, and Coastal lost a lot in the trenches, including four-year contributors Tim Franklin and Bryan Brooks.

That leaves a gaping hole in the depth chart but no gaping holes for the backs to run through unless the Chants can quickly fill in the blanks. Coastal’s new “up-tempo” spread offensive attack requires plenty of fresh big guys to keep pace with skill positions.

* QB or not QB?: Coastal is fortunate to have an experienced senior quarterback in Aramis Hillary, but he faces the most daunting task of all the returning Chants. Making the transition from a more conservative offense to a wide-open attack is no easy task.

Hillary set the CCU single-season record in pass completion percentage (65.5), passing for 14 passing touchdowns to only five interceptions, and he ran for seven more scores. With a young line and receiving corps, Hillary may be on the run in more ways than one to make this transition in stride.

* Duck or Cover?: Coastal has all the pieces in place to have a strong defense, which should give them the opportunity to stay in some close games. But the most glaring weakness appears to be in the secondary, which will be put to the test by Coastal’s pass-happy opponents.

After losing All-American Josh Norman to the Carolina Panthers and secondary mate Marcus Lott, the Chants will be thin in the defensive backfield and subject to being burned by non-conference throwing foes like Furman, Toledo and Appalachian State. Listen for air-raid sirens.

* North or South?: This whole experimental coaching change could go one of two ways. Either Moglia performs a magical act by turning the Chants into the national championship-caliber program he envisions, or things could turn really sour in a hurry.

Fans and alumni have been slow to jump aboard the Moglia bandwagon, primarily because of the way Bennett’s firing was handled by the administration, but they will easily forget if Coastal shows signs of success. Winning can make everything good – the team’s confidence, attendance, exposure – but losing has the opposite effect.

The next 30 days will go a long way toward deciding which direction it goes.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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