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Facing Adversity

by Dan Gunderson

The head coach of the Coastal Carolina University Chanticleers’ football team, Joe Moglia, talked about his team’s performance against the University of Montana last week. The Chanticleers won their second round FCS Playoff game over the Grizzlies 42-35 in temperatures that resembled an ice box.

Kickoff temps for that game were five below zero with the wind chill making it feel more like 15 to 20 below.

“Half our team does not own coats. Half our team has never actually physically seen snow themselves,” said Moglia. “When you are used to 70 degree temperatures, it would take your body six weeks to adjust to zero degrees. By the way, we are getting ready to get out there on Thursday and the plane is two hours late.”

All CCU did was come out and drop 35 first half points in one of the toughest venues to play at in the FCS. The temperature and the unfriendly confines didn’t make a difference to Moglia’s team.

“It was the coldest game ever played in the history of the FCS,” said Moglia. “We played a very, very good team at their place and we upset them. Without a question the biggest victory in the history of Coastal Carolina.”

The venue and the atmosphere are going to be quite a bit different on Saturday at the Fargodome when the Chanticleers take on the number one ranked Bison of North Dakota State University. There will be no adjusting to temperature since the game is indoors. There will be, however, adjusting to the noise level.

“Probably the loudest venue in the country. A lot of people have said that even if you are looking at the other guy move his mouth, you don’t hear his voice,” said Moglia.

Like many road coaches before him, Moglia understands that challenge and believes his team is ready for it.

“Everything we do is hand signals. We practice with loud music,” said Moglia. “We have played at venues that have been loud. Liberty is very, very loud. South Carolina is very loud. Montana was louder than both of those. So, we have some of that experience.”

Another way for a road team to quiet a crowd is to run the ball effectively. CCU has been doing that all year long with sophomore quarterback Alex Ross and senior running back Lorenzo Taliaferro.

“Our running game has been very effective,” said Moglia. “By that same token, NDSU has an incredible defense. So it will be a very, very real challenge.

Taliaferro has run for 1,676 yards and 26 touchdowns while Ross has run for 526 yards and six scores. In the Montana game, those two combined for 227 yards rushing and two scores.

Taliaferro is going to be especially tough to take down because of his size. At 6’2” 230, Taliaferro is roughly the same size as NDSU senior fullback Andrew Grothmann.

Last season against Wofford College, NDSU faced a similar sized running back in Eric Breitenstein. In that 14-7 win for the Bison, Breitenstein ran for 135 yards while the Terriers racked up 262 yards rushing.

While the offensive style for Wofford is different than CCU, Wofford runs a traditional option while CCU runs a read option mainly out of the shot gun formation, the similarities in what these teams want to do should be noted.

Because of these things, CCU will not be intimated or worried about the crowd over taking the team’s composure and causing unforced errors. He also believes that his team will not wilt in the second half against NDSU like so many teams before them have.

“We are in good physical condition and so is North Dakota State so there is no question about whether either one of us is going to last through the four quarters,” said Moglia.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.