Coastal Carolina football coach Joe Moglia isn’t above playing a few mind games with the Charlotte 49ers.
Moglia’s sixth-ranked Chanticleers (8-0) will be clear favorites against the start-up 49ers (4-4) on Saturday when they play at 3 p.m. at Brooks Stadium in Conway, S.C.
Moglia, however, isn’t entirely sure who his starting quarterback will be. In fact, it could be one of any four, including starter Alex Ross, who missed Coastal’s 66-27 demolition of Virginia Military last week with an injured foot.
“Ross should be fine,” Moglia said Tuesday. “We’ll have to take a good look at him, but we’re anticipating he’ll play. If we’re not sure, that means opponents have to get ready for at least three different types of attacks. If Alex isn’t ready, we’ll be ready to go with the other guys.”
Those other guys are Michael Church, Dalton Demos and Brian Kass, each of whom played against the Keydets.
“All three contributed in their own little way,” said 49ers coach Brad Lambert, whose team is 2-1 against Big South teams this season. “And they played pretty good.”
But Lambert said the key to stopping the Chanticleers isn’t containing the quarterback – whomever that may be.
He’s more worried about senior running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, who has already rushed for a Coastal single-season record of 1,112 yards and has scored 18 touchdowns (three shy of a Big South record).
“Everything starts with the running back,” said Lambert. “It all feeds off him.”
The Chanticleers are the highest-scoring team in the Football Championship Subdivision, averaging 47.4 points and also rolling up 496.6 yards per game (which ranks ninth). The 49ers’ defense allows 30.1 points and 416.9 yards per game, including a season high 548 yards in a 36-14 loss against Charleston Southern last week.
But the 49ers rank first nationally in fumbles recovered (14) and are second in takeaways (25). Charlotte recovered three fumbles against Charleston Southern.
Moglia also veered away from coach-speak in his assessment of Charlotte’s defense, which features seven freshman starters.
“The reality is they’re a little bit young on defense and they make some mistakes,” said Moglia. “But as the season goes on, teams learn from their mistakes. They may have a breakdown or two, but they get to the football. And they’re only going to get better because of that youth.”
Moglia is more wary of Charlotte’s quick-strike offense, which averages 31.6 points and 437.5 yards. Twelve 49ers touchdown drives have taken fewer than 90 seconds.
“They have a really good tempo, and we should be ready for that,” said Moglia. “But if they execute offensively, we’re going to have to be very disciplined on defense.”
Moglia, 64, is in his second season at Coastal. He left coaching in the mid-1980s for several years and became CEO of what is now TE Ameritrade. He returned to coaching in 2008, working for a few years on an unpaid basis at Nebraska and one season as the head coach of the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. He replaced David Bennett as the Chanticleers’ head coach in 2012.
The 49ers aren’t far from where Coastal used to be. The Chanticleers started their football program under Bennett in 2003. Coastal had quick success, going 28-6 from 2004-06 before settling into several seasons of mediocrity. Bennett, fired after the 2011 season, is now athletics director and football coach at River Bluff High in Lexington, S.C.
• 49ers linebackers Micah Bryan and Jalen Holt will miss Saturday’s game due to personal issues. Holt will be at a family funeral and will return next week; Bryan’s leave is indefinite. Bryan has a team-high 38 solo tackles and has one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery. Holt has played in five games and had a season-high three tackles last week against Charleston Southern.
• Linebacker is probably where the 49ers are deepest on defense, however. Kendal Parker, who missed six games with a broken leg, is expected back for the Coastal game. Tyler DeStefani, a projected starter before injuring his finger in the preseason, returned against Charleston Southern.
• Freshman running back Kalif Phillips took over the team lead in touchdowns (seven) with two against Charleston Southern.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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