• Graham Knight

Coast Guard Loses Big and Merchant Marine Looms Large

by Graham Knight

Little did the Coast Guard Bears know when they boarded the buses for Springfield College this weekend, just 75 miles north, how inhospitable of a trip it would be.

Nothing went right for the Bears, beginning with the opening kickoff, as the Pride trounced Coast Guard, 60-0.

Springfield recovered the opening on-side kick and then marched 47 yards in less than 3 minutes to take a 7-0 lead, and then it got worse for the Bears. Their first drive ended with minus 12 yards and a fumble at their own 16-yard line. Two plays later, it was 14-0 Springfield.

By halftime, the Pride led 47-0, scoring on all eight of their possessions. Coast Guard had only one yard of offense in the first half and finished the game with just 42 yards for the game.

Coast Guard Head Football Coach C.C. Grant speaks to his players after losing to Springfield College 60-0 on October 9, 2021.

This loss drops the Bears to 2-4 on the season. It's another road trip this week, to Washington DC, to take on the Catholic University Cardinals in a NEWMAC conference game.

In just a month the Bears will play in their biggest rivalry game of the year against the Merchant Marine Mariners, so it's time we start to set the stage for that match-up.

The Mariners are undefeated this season with a 5-0 record, and this past weekend they posted a commanding 49-14 conference win over Norwich, a team that beat the Coast Guard Bears 29 to 24.

In that game the Mariners jumped out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter, scoring on all three of their drives without throwing a pass. USMMA never looked back and held a 35-7 lead at halftime.

They were led by Senior Quarterback Ian Blankenship who rushed for one TD and threw another. In all, seven different Mariners found the endzone.

Norwich, which put up almost 500 yards of offense against Coast Guard a week earlier, could only muster 175 yards against Merchant Marine. The Mariners had 453 yards of offense, 85 percent of that on the ground. They are averaging 48 points a game in their five wins and host conference foe MIT this week.

We held our weekly one-on-one conversation with Coast Guard Head Coach C.C. Grant and here is that conversation:

Graham Knight: I'm joined now by Coach C. C. Grant, Head Coach of the Coast Guard Bears coach a rough outing this weekend. How do you make sense of the 60-O score against Springfield?

Coach C.C. Grant: Well, I would say it's a little bit more rough outing. They were, I guess, the perfect storm, for them. And, you know, I told the team we're not going to make any excuses, but we certainly didn't play well. And you get a team that was playing a first home game, a team coming off a bye week and they were chomping at the bit. So they went for the jugular right away and then they successfully grabbed hold of it and didn't let go.

Graham: Interesting move right at the top of the game to do an onside kick. What was the thought there?

Coach C.C. Grant: I think what they saw was our kids were bailing. It's ironic that I said, something I always say when, I yell as the a ball is getting ready to be kicked is I normally yell, "See the ball kicked," and our kids who were right in the middle did not. They turned their backs. And the kicker was able . . it was a perfect, perfectly placed onside kick to himself. So, you know, you take that, you look at it and, you know, obviously the first for us, those two kids up from our freshmen. So lesson learned, and we'll certainly do better.

Graham: But when I look at it, you know, it's the perfect -- at least for Springfield -- trifecta, blown out, shutout and then shut down. Part of me wonders, your defense had a really big game the week before, and I'm kind of curious, they were on the field for 90 plays, 40 minutes the week before, any chance it was just fatigue?

Coach C.C. Grant: I'm sure they might have played it a little bit. I also think it's a style of offense we were facing. I started another freshman linebacker for the first time ever. And he actually played well, but you're playing against an option offense like that, which is not easy to defend. And if you're not technically perfect, those things happen.

We've had teams here in 2018, 2019 and defended that stuff pretty well. But by then, those kids that were juniors and seniors, they had seen that stuff six, seven times. And I think it makes a difference.

I think going forward will be better. We play King's Point, I'm sure our kids will be more familiar with it, understand how what is happening to them out there. A lot of first out there for a lot of people and you can add in what you said, maybe a little fatigue from the week before, and we just didn't perform well. And they beat us in every phase of the game in every way. I take my hat off to [Head Coach] Mike Cerasuolo and Springfield.

Graham: Real quick, I am kind of curious. I want to talk about the triple option versus what Coast Guard plays. You know, the other academies, Army, Navy, Air Force make a big deal of it, I know there's some debate as to kind of exactly whether or not Air Force is playing like a true triple option. Is there any reason a Coast Guard doesn't play more of a triple option?

Coach C.C. Grant: I think years ago we ran it for a couple of years here and then we had a big time recruit, a kid who was drafted in Major League Baseball, and he was also at that time he had a Division One scholarship to play quarterback and he was not an option guy. And we thought, at that point in time, if we can continue to get kids like that who will come here then there would be no need for us to to run triple option. So I think from a recruiting standpoint, especially nowadays, where kids are throwing the ball 30 -- 40 times a game in high school and you don't see a lot of option type kids, it makes it easier to find the spread type quarterback and receivers and running backs.

Graham: And just one more quick question: As we're talking right now, we're almost exactly one month from the big Secretaries' Cup game against Merchant Marine. Merchant Marine went up against Norwich this past weekend, beat them soundly. Merchant Marines is now undefeated, 5-0. Coast Guard played Norwich, I believe a week ago, came away with 24-21 loss. What's your take as you look ahead to the Secretaries' Cup? Are you kind of a week-by-week guy and you're just on the next game? Or at what point will you turn your attention towards merchant marine and preparing for that big game on the 13th of November?

Coach C.C. Grant: After we get done playing WPI, to be honest with you. I am a week by week type of person. We haven't even thought about Merchant Marine, to be honest with you. We know they're there but so is Catholic and they're pretty good. And so is MIT and they're the week after, after we come off our bye week. We don't give a lot of thought to it. I'm sure there will be a lot of buildup to it, maybe prior to the game and maybe even starting the week before that. But I like to, especially if you get be 60 to nothing, you kind of focus on the task at hand.

Graham: And then any takeaways or anything you want us to be thinking about as you prepare for this coming week's game at Catholic? By the way, we look forward to seeing you at the game. Behind The Lines will be there to cover your game in D.C. this weekend.

Coach C.C. Grant: I just told the guys, "Let's just reset." Just like we we do every every week, I tell them to flush it. Whether we win, or we lose, let's flush it. We watch film and learn from it, see what we could do, what we did well, what we can do better and then we move on.

Catholic is a very good team. It's so funny that we played a team that ran the ball 95 percent of the time and we go to play a team that throws it 90 percent of the time. So, different game plan, different type of run style, totally different type of offense.

But you know, we're looking forward to it. It'll be a lot of alumni and Coast Guard people down there in D.C. and I know it's Catholic's Homecoming.

Graham: Well, perfect, Coach. It's a new game and a new week, and we look forward to seeing you there. Appreciate your time. Thanks for joining us, Coach Grant.

Coach C.C. Grant: Hey, thanks for having me, Graham.

edited for web by Joe Harman