When Coastal Carolina and Furman meet on the gridiron, the teams lay it all on the line.
And even though the Chanticleers have won the past five contests, they haven’t come easy.
Those wins have come by a total of just 29 points and two of those contests went to overtime. The Chants will battle the Paladins again Saturday, and neither team would expect anything besides a shootout.
“Every time we play them, it’s always close,” Coastal Carolina junior quarterback Tyler Keane said. “I don’t think this one will be any different.”
Keane is stepping in to make his first career start after sitting behind former quarterback Alex Ross – the school’s all-time passing leader – for two seasons and getting beat out for the starting job to begin the year. Injuries to starter Josh Stilley and backups Chance Thrasher and Avery McCall leave Keane as the most viable option as the Chants had to scramble to find depth behind him.
So much so that former Coastal Carolina baseball player Tyler Chadwick is now on the football team to help with depth at quarterback.
Moglia has faith in Keane as he prepares for a tough test. The Myrtle Beach High product got perhaps his toughest test of all last week as he finished the second half of the team’s 27-26 loss to No. 4 Jacksonville State with over 100 passing yards and a touchdown.
“Furman is a good team,” Keane said. “But I don’t think we’ll see a tougher defense than Jacksonville State. … I definitely think my performance in that last game will help me carry confidence throughout the rest of the season.”
Furman has some questions at quarterback as well.
PJ Blazejowski left last week’s loss to Chattanooga with an injury after completing 5-of-13 passes for just 22 yards, and was replaced by former starter Reese Hannon, who finished 14-of-20 passing for 174 yards.
Blazejowski’s status for the game is unknown. Still, Coastal Carolina isn’t going underestimate the Paladins.
“We’re not [looking past Furman] at all. We have an issue at quarterback with regards to depth, we’re aware of that. Our receivers, our [offensive] line have to step up to be able to handle that,” Chants head coach Joe Moglia said. “Our defense has to continue to improve and play well, especially continue to do what they’ve been doing. We know this is a real game; we know that.”
Also, Moglia would like to see the ground attack improve this week after starting halfback De’Angelo Henderson was held to under 50 yards against Jacksonville State.
“It was [a surprise],” Moglia said of the team’s struggles on the ground. “Frankly, we passed better than I thought we might and we didn’t run as good as we would have liked to. Now, I think our staff would give Jacksonville State some credit for that. That was a battle. But I have no doubts that our running game is going to come back.”
Furman hopes that isn’t the case this week, but as Moglia and, now, Keane know – football is a strange game sometimes.
“Anything can happen,” Keane said. “You just have to be prepared.”