By Jeff Owens/Photo by Allen Sharpe
Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia will return to the sidelines Saturday after missing all of last season with a long-term illness.
His first game back will be against a South Carolina team he believes might be one of the best teams in the country.
“I’ve heard [head coach Will] Muschamp say that he thinks since he’s been a college football coach, this might be the best team he’s got,” said Moglina, who is 51-15 in his first five seasons at Coastal Carolina. “I’ve had a chance to look at them on film and I think they are a pretty good football team. … These guys are really very, very good. They are nationally ranked and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up top 10 in the nation by the end of the season.”
Moglia is one of the most intriguing coaches in the country. After coaching for more than 25 years as an assistant at Lafayette, Dartmouth and Nebraska, he left coaching to enter the corporate world and wound up the CEO of TD Ameritrade. When he returned to coaching, he led Coastal Carolina to three straight Big South Conference titles and four straight FCS playoff appearances before missing last season, Coastal’s first at the FBS level in the Sun Belt Conference.
The last time Moglia’s team faced South Carolina, Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks won 70-10 at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2013. Moglia’s remembers the game well.
“At the time, South Carolina was ranked ninth in the country and we scheduled that game late and we were playing the playoffs the following week. We didn’t want to risk that, but they were a good team,” he said.
After finishing 3-9 in their first season in the FBS last year, Moglia knows his team faces a major challenge against Muschamp’s Gamecocks, which finished 9-4 last season.
“Our guys will be well aware that there is going to be 91,000 in the stadium, our guys are well aware that they are good, our guys are well aware of what we’ll face,” he said. “The offense, they execute well, they have really good running backs, they have really good receivers, the quarterback is solid, they have a big, strong offensive line. They’ve got the same thing on defense. … Their special teams are good.
“Across the board, they are big, they are fast, they are strong, they are athletic, they have a lot of depth and they finished the season really strong last season by upsetting Michigan in the bowl game. … Those are all reasons I said I wouldn’t be surprised if they were a top-10 team by the end of the year.”
Moglia said Monday that this year’s team is the best conditioned team he has had at Coastal. He knows it will face a big challenge, however, against South Carolina’s up-tempo offense and junior quarterback Jake Bentley. He said his defense has faced two different offenses in practice to prepare for the faster tempo.
“I think no matter what you try to get during the week from your scout team, that is not going to be the same tempo as what we are going to see from South Carolina on Saturday. We know that,” he said.
“… In order to do that, you have to make sure you are reasonably simple and thoughtful with your calls. If they beat us on the play, they beat us on the play. It’s up to us to make sure we maximize our potential and we have to control what we can be in control of. If we are not set and ready to play when they line up, that’s on us. We have to make sure we take care of that.”