No. 15 Coastal Carolina seeks improvement at Troy
Fresh off a win that Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell acknowledges was no masterpiece, he believes the No. 15 Chanticleers will need to pick up the pace on the road Saturday against Sun Belt Conference rival Troy.
“They’re gonna play fast,” Chadwell said of the Trojans. “They catch you, they get you out of position, and their receivers — and their backs, really — but their receivers can beat you in the one on one. They got after us good last year, and we really struggled with them.”
On the Chanticleers’ home field a season ago, Coastal Carolina eked out a 36-35 win thanks to a 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point-conversion run both by CJ Marable with 30 seconds left. Troy outgained Coastal Carolina 500-476 in total yardage, including throwing for 385 yards.
Despite awaiting the return of starting quarterback Gunnar Watson, the Trojans (4-3, 2-2 Sun Belt) are second in the conference in passing offense at 302.3 yards per game, though they are second to last in rushing at 103.6 yards per game.
“Our balance is not really run and pass. It’s more like who touches the ball. We’ve run for 200 this year already once,” Troy coach Chip Lindsey said, referring to a 47-14 rout of Middle Tennessee to open the season, when the Trojans rushed for 240 yards.
Watson, a sophomore, has 1,159 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in five games. However, he sustained an injury to his ribs early in a loss to Georgia State on Oct. 24. His status appears to be week-to-week but might be day-to-day based on what he shows at practice, Lindsey said.
Junior Jacob Free has been at the helm, going 1-1 as a starter. For the season, he has completed 59 percent of his passes while throwing for 957 yards and five touchdowns.
Free also has four interceptions, however, including two in last week’s loss to host Georgia Southern. The final pick came with just over two minutes left after the Trojans, who were trailing 20-13 at the time, drove 64 yards on 10 plays to the Eagles 16-yard line.
No matter who starts, the Chanticleers’ defense will be waiting.
“Defensively, their front is the thing that really sticks out. They’re really big and athletic, very, very disruptive,” Lindsey said of Coastal Carolina (7-0, 5-0). He added that he is “very impressed with Tarron Jackson and Jeffrey Gunter. But really that whole unit up there, they play about six guys, all are big and athletic.”
Coastal Carolina leads the Sun Belt with 25 sacks, and Jackson tops the team with six.
The Chanticleers’ defense ultimately came up with big plays last week, stopping South Alabama on downs four times, including a hairy fourth-and-goal from the 1 late in the third quarter while the Jaguars were within 17-6 of the hosts. On that 17-play march, South Alabama had converted three fourth-down plays.
Coastal Carolina defeated South Alabama 23-6, scoring 15 points under its average for the season.
“Sometimes you got to win games that are ugly,” Chadwell said. “Not going to play your best every Saturday, (although) that’s our goal, but when you don’t, we got to find a way to win, and our guys did.”
Chanticleers freshman quarterback Grayson McCall has thrown for 1,393 yards and 16 touchdowns with only one interception while adding 271 rushing yards and four more scores. Marable (370) leads a trio of running backs who each have at least 268 rushing yards.
–Field Level Media