ORLANDO, FL – As a part of the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl Pregame Press Conference, senior CJ Brewer from No. 12 Coastal Carolina and freshman CJ Yarbrough from No. 23 Liberty were honored as Community Service Soldiers on Wednesday. The soldiers were thanked for volunteering in their local communities by FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl Executive Director Alan Gooch during a virtual press conference.
Brewer has worked with numerous charities and events during his four-year career at Coastal Carolina, including volunteering at evens such as Tim Tebow “Night to Shine” Prom, Caring for Kindergartners, Black History Month Program, pumpkin drives and Christmas Events. The Bowdon, Ga., native has served at Shepherd’s Table (Food Shelter) in Conway, S.C., “Be a Match” (Bone Marrow Drive) on campus and “Trunk or Treat” on campus, while also volunteering on the leadership team of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).
Yarbrough is one of the numerous community service champions at Liberty. He was a part of an athletic department that finished the year logging over 8,000 hours of community service and attending 78 events. “Love, Care, Serve” is the promise that Liberty student-athletes have for each other and the greater Lynchburg community.
The sixth-annual FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl between the Chanticleers and Flames kicks off on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN. A limited number of tickets for the Top 25 matchup at Camping World Stadium are still available in socially-distanced pods of two and four seats.
Partial Transcription of Wednesday’s press conference: Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jamey Chadwell, Senior Defensive End Tarron Jackson, Freshman Quarterback Grayson McCall, and Senior Defensive Lineman CJ Brewer and Liberty Head Coach Hugh Feeze, Junior Quarterback Malik Willis and Junior Safety Javon Scruggs.
Coastal Carolina Head Coach Jamey Chadwell
“We are very thankful to be representing the Sun Belt as conference champions and playing in the Cure Bowl. We are excited about going to Orlando and giving our team one more opportunity to showcase their talent and skills. It has been a phenomenal season. Our first bowl game that we have ever had in the history of our program. This is one that we will remember for a long time. We are thankful to Orlando and the Cure Bowl for putting on this bowl game during this pandemic. We know that it has been a challenging time and are thankful to just go down there and play.
“Our team is looking forward to competing and excited about our opponent. Liberty is a great opponent that we are playing and a rival for us for a long time. It will have even more of a significant meeting in playing them. Our team is looking forward to going down there and experiencing. We will treasure this experience for years to come.”
What does it mean to be recognized as this season progressed?
“I am most excited for our team and staff. They put a lot of work in last year. They used the disrespect as a motivation and a chip for us to put on our shoulder. They went in and did the work even during the time when the pandemic hit from March to June or July. We did not know exactly what was going to happen. They all still put the work in, whether that was training or watching extra video. For them to be able to have the year that they had, put a ring on their finger, call themselves champions and seeing their hard work being recognized, I am excited and happy for them. It was a unique year. The sacrifices that they and every team across the country has had to make just to have a game each week. I am happy to see the joy on their faces for reaching some of the personal goals that they had.”
What does it mean for these two programs that recently transitioned to FBS to play a Top-25 matchup in a bowl game?
“I think it is a great thing for us and a great thing for them as we build our programs. We are trying to establish our identities here in the FBS. This is only going to help solidify that in front of a national audience in a great bowl game. I think that is going to benefit us down the line as we build our programs and try to make us respected across the country and every year we are competing for those Top 25’s.”
How is Grayson McCall able to step in and lead Coastal Carolina as a freshman?
“He has this cool, calm persona…I guess swag is the term that these kids use these days. He has a confidence about himself in the way that he carries himself. He does not get rattled. We are playing Kansas in his first game and they are talking trash to him. He just points at the scoreboard. He has a presence about him that the team rallies around. It is an intangible piece that you want your quarterback to have. There is nothing that I have seen that ruffles his feathers. He might make a mistake, but he forgets it. He moves on to the next play.”
Coastal Carolina Senior Defensive Lineman CJ Brewer
What are some of the things you do in the community to give back?
“The main thing that I do and love the most is the Tim Tebow Foundation. It is a special needs prom. To me, it is one of the best ones. In our first year, we had maybe like 10 guys, then the next year, we had like ¾ of the team. This past year, we had the whole team out there and had a good time with those people. We were dancing with them, doing karaoke and helping them get food.”
On what Liberty quarterback Malik Willis brings to its offense?
“He is a good quarterback. He is athletic, but we must do what we are supposed to do. Keep our hands on him, being around him all game and get him out of his comfort zone. Go out there, have fun and play ball.”
Coastal Carolina Senior Defensive End Tarron Jackson
What challenges does Liberty quarterback Malik Willis bring for your defense?
“It is definitely going to be a challenge. He is a mobile quarterback that can hurt you with his legs and his arm. We are going to have to do a good job to keep him contained with our pass rush. He has a pretty solid offensive line. Those guys protect him well, so we are going to have to try and do what we do and get pressure on him. We want to make him uncomfortable in any way we can.”
What motivates your defense to be so physical?
“We definitely play with a chip on our shoulders. Since I got here, I feel like our defense has always been kind of looked over. We have not gotten much respect from the conference. Every year since I have been here, I felt like we have gotten better and better. We have a lot of experience and chemistry with the guys on the field. This year, coming into the season, we got some guys from positions that we needed to make an improvement. That chemistry that we have now is unbreakable.
What it means to play in a bowl dedicated to raising funds for cancer research?
“It is huge. For me to get an opportunity to play in bowl like this is great. It has a little more meaning to me, going through what I went through and seeing the impact that certain things have on kids is huge. A big thing for me when I was younger is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They gave us the opportunity to go to Orlando and go to different places like Disney World and that was a blessing. Being a part of the Cure Bowl is great.”
How cancer has personally effected you?
“My brother passed when he was nine years old with leukemia. It had a huge impact on my life. It taught me a lot of things and helped me get through a lot of things with football. When going through the process, it is rough and kind of gritty. It made me not make a lot of excuses for a lot of things. It made a huge impact on my life. Seeing someone that you love go through that and not have an ability to do anything, I feel like it just creates something within you that helps you get through a lot of stuff.”
Coastal Carolina Freshman Quarterback Grayson McCall
What does it feel like to prepare for your program’s first bowl game?
“We are super excited to be the first team in program history to get to a bowl game. The season that we had is super special. It makes it even more special to be able to play Liberty. It is a big-time rival for our school and it is big for our community and all the previous players. We are really excited for this next opportunity.”
How important is it to stay away from obvious pass rushing situations against Liberty?
“They definitely strong upfront and have some guys on the edge that can get in the backfield and cause disruptions. I am really confident in our offensive line and what they are going to do. They are going to handle business. For us to prevent those situations, we need to be great on first down and have no penalties.”
How is it like running this offense?
“We have some masterminds on this side of the ball and making this stuff up. They do a great job with it. I am really comfortable with running it. I have been doing triple-option stuff, since I was a freshman I high school. I am comfortable with it. As you can see this season, it can cause for some problems for defenses. Not only the triple-option game, but us throwing the ball downfield. We are throwing different stuff at you; different formations. It makes it hard for the defense to adjust.”
Liberty Head Coach Hugh Freeze
“We are thankful to the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl for the invitation and we are excited to be involved in a bowl with such a great cause. We loved our experience there last year with the Cure Bowl and its staff along with its mission that they have. I hate that we are not going to be able to experience some of the normal things that we would do with them, because it was such well done by them. I am honored that we are going to be able to represent Liberty University back at the Cure Bowl again this season.
“We get to play a great opponent in Coastal Carolina, who has had a great season and compliments to them and their coaching staff and players. They have done a remarkable job. Our players are excited to have a challenge like this to measure ourselves at this point in our two-year tenure here. To play a Top-15 teams in a bowl game is pretty exciting.
“The prep has gone well this week. Like everyone, we are dealing with the COVID tests and waiting on the results of the last test to come back and all those things, which keep your anxious. We are excited again about this opportunity.”
What did last year’s Cure Bowl victory do for your program?
“It is hard to put a quantitative amount on what something like that does in year one. It gives the your kids that are returning some experience that says this is what it feels like and this is what we should strive for each year. The goal for every independent is to get to a bowl game like the Cure Bowl each year. Having that experience and giving them a taste for what that is like for the first time ever…it sets a standard in your program. I don’t think that you can teach what an experience like that causes. Then, the confidence that they can do it over the course of the season to get to this point again. Confidence to learn how to prepare for a bowl game for some of these younger kids. They can look at some of the older ones and see this is how you prepare.”
How hard has it been to get to this point of the season emotionally with all the testing and social-distancing protocols in place?
“This 2020 season has brought physical, mental and emotional challenges…and the whole spectrum. Academic challenges. Nutrition challenges. We have had it all this year. I am really proud of our team, our entire team – administration, academics, nutrition and everyone. I think that we managed this as well as you can and our kids for the most part of kept a positive mental state of mind. I am proud of them wanting to finish, because it is not ideal. It is not ideal to be here on Christmas week. Missing Christmas with family. After everything that we have been through…it started back in August, Are we going to play? We were fortunate to go 10-straight games. When I look at our players, I think that they have handled the mental toll of 2020 about as good as you could. I am very proud of that fact.”
How important will controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball be?
“I do not think that being balanced is key, but if we get one dimensional, then we have problems for sure. They are definitely different than Georgia Southern. They do run a triple option, but they do a lot more and very difficult to defend.
“To me the keys to the game are turnovers and red zone opportunities and which team got it into the end zone and which team had to kick field goals.”
How has Malik Wills progressed this season after arriving as a transfer?
“I am very pleased. He wants to lead and prepare well. He needs to take care of the ball little better. As far as how he has approached his leadership role and stepped into his role on this football team, I think that he has done a phenomenal job. The sky is the limit and is only going to get better. This is really his first year as a college quarterback. I think that he is going to continue to improve with another year in our system. To this point, he obviously had to sit out with COVID and had to knock a little bit of rust off in practice, but hopefully, he will settle in when the game is kicked off and have one of his better games. He is going to have to play really well for us to beat Coastal.”
Liberty Senior Defensive Line CJ Brewer
What community service have you done while at Liberty and how does that make you feel?
“We have done a lot of canned food drives for the shelters around town. Last summer, we dressed up as Cat in the Hat and that was our theme when we went to a local elementary school. We collected over 4,000 books and were able to read and hand them out to the kids. We went to every classroom and saw the enjoyment and excitement that the kids showed on their faces.”
“There are a lot of things that we are able to do. I am just glad to be a part of it. I like to see smiles on people’s faces and bringing light to someone’s day. Even if they are having a bad day, I want to be able to change that, so they have a good day.”
Why is community service important to you?
“It is very important. I am a person that finds enjoyment in other people being happy. I tend to put others before myself. I would rather see everyone around me with a big happy smile.”
Liberty Junior Quarterback Malik Willis
How excited are you to play coastal Carolina on Saturday?
“I am really excited. It is another opportunity that we get to go out there and have another game with our guys. We will go out there and give it what we got. I am blessed with the opportunity.”
What has led to your team’s success in the red zone?
“We are focusing on the little things in practice and going up against our defense. It is a great defense – iron sharpens iron. We go out there and try to work hard everyday. The ball is what it is all about. Whoever has the ball, protecting it or on defense, trying to take the ball away. Those opportunities are what makes or breaks a team.”
What have you seen in preparation for Coastal Carolina’s defense?
“They are a hard-nosed defense. They are out there trying to hit you hard, shake you and rattle you. It is a good defense. We just have to go out there and do what we have to do.”
Liberty Junior Safety Javon Scruggs
How good is your defensive unit?
“We play with the same chip every game…We are going to play our ball, swarm and gang tackle. Whenever the ball is in the air, we that that every one is ours and we turn into a receiver. We go out there every week and show how great and dominant our defense can be.”
How difficult is it to prepare for the Coastal Carolina offense?
“It can be very difficult if you have a bunch of individuals on the team, but we have to play as a team this week and do our jobs as individuals. We can’t try to make other people’s plays or do other people’s jobs. We have to go out there and contain McCall and their offense, and get them out of their comfort zone – and make them do things that they normally don’t do.”
Orlando Sports Foundation
The Orlando Sports Foundation (OSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research. The OSF holds several events throughout the year including the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl, JA Edwards of America Race 2 Cure presented by FFVA Mutual, Cure Cup, Strikeout Breast Cancer and Kickoff to Cure Luncheon.
With the combined support of Central Floridians, loyal sports fans and strategic partners, the OSF is further dedicated and committed to serving the challenges of cancer awareness and elimination, invigorating the Central Florida athletic community and supporting youth organizations with standards of benevolence, integrity and moral excellence.
To learn more, visit OrlandoSportsFoundation.com.
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