Coastal Carolina coach Joe Moglia is considering giving freshman quarterback Avery McCall of Dillon the rest of the season off so he can receive a medical redshirt this year.
McCall, who won four consecutive Class AA state championships with the Wildcats, injured a hand in CCU’s loss at Jacksonville State in the third game of the season and would maintain four years of eligibility.
He would be the third quarterback lost for the season, joining Josh Stilley and Chance Thrasher.
“If he’s going to have to have a cast on for another [few] weeks, then it would make sense to give him a medical redshirt,” Moglia said.
Myrtle Beach High alumnus Tyler Keane will get his fourth consecutive start Saturday against Central Connecticut State, and with Coastal’s options behind him dwindling, Keane showed he’s becoming more comfortable in the role by completing 15 of 18 passes in last week’s 17-7 win at Gardner Webb.
“I definitely think each game, every week it’s going to get a little bit more comfortable for me,” Keane said. “I’m able to have that much more experience under my belt, so I think that really helps.”
The offense has been altered a bit for Keane’s skills, but he hasn’t noticed a great amount of change. “Maybe a little bit. Being a lefty instead of rolling out to the right maybe we’ll roll out to the left, but there’s not much difference,” he said.
Redshirt freshman Austin Bradley of Orangeburg is listed second on the depth chart behind Keane, but CCU’s coaches are scheming to use others to spell Keane or replace him if necessary.
The Chants have a few quarterbacks practicing offensive packages specific to them that they’ll be prepared to execute in a game.
Ryan Lee was an example of that against Gardner-Webb.
Lee, a freshman who predominantly played quarterback in high school but was being moved to wide receiver by CCU coaches, played in two series as a “wildcat formation” quarterback and gained 10 yards on four carries.
“Austin is part of that, and we’ve moved a couple guys around as well, so we could go with potentially two or three guys with different packages,” Moglia said. “The guys we could go with haven’t had a lot of experience so their packages will be limited, and getting 10 days off [because of Hurricane Matthew] for them is not the greatest thing in the world. But even if they go with three, four or five plays they can execute, that ought to help us be effective, and we’ve got to be prepared if something happens to Tyler.”
Defense stepping up
Coastal Carolina defensive coordinator Mickey Matthews has seen a steady improvement in his defense’s performance, game after game.
And last week’s 17-7 win over Gardner-Webb was proof, as it was perhaps the best game the defensive unit had played under Matthews, who is in his first year with the Chanticleers.
“We’ve gotten better every week. We need to continue to do that,” Matthews said. “We feel very good with the direction we’re heading defensively.”
The performance was a far cry from Coastal Carolina’s (4-2) previous performance, a 57-56 double-overtime loss to Charleston Southern.
“We did play very well against Charleston Southern on first and second down, but what we did was play poorly on third and fourth down. We couldn’t get off the field against Charleston Southern,” Matthews said. “We played third down much better against Gardner-Webb. And they had played offense pretty well going into that game and we knew we had our work cut out for us stopping them. We felt like our coaches had a better plan on third down to get off the field, and we did. I think as the game went along, our confidence grew and it was very positive.”
One strong note on defense has been Jabarai Bothwell, with the senior recording six tackles, 2.5 sacks and a pass breakup.
“You look at this team, and each of us are needed to step it up and as a whole we’ve all been doing our jobs and not letting each other down,” Bothwell said. “We don’t like that feeling (of losing), and we just go out and do everything we can to come out on top.”
Steady on the defensive unit has been redshirt senior Richie Sampson, who leads the team in tackles with 47 and also has two interceptions, and senior Alex Scearce – second on the team in tackles (42), first in interceptions (3) and tied with Bothwell for first in sacks (3.5).
Matthews hopes to ride the momentum into Saturday’s matchup against Central Connecticut State.
“We’re a confident group right now,” Matthews said. “We were really upset with not so much how we played against Charleston Southern. Everyone’s upset after a loss, but we didn’t like how we played on third down, and we needed to make some more plays just to get off the field. I had never experienced that as a head coach or an assistant coach where a team converted as many third and fourth downs. So, like I said, we had a better plan and execution on third down last week and we’re going to continue to keep working on that.”
Three members of the Coastal Carolina football team have connections to upcoming opponent Central Connecticut State. Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude was a quarterback at the school. Chants starters Voghens Larrieux (offensive line) and Tarrol Stafford (defensive line) are both Connecticut natives and were each recruited by the school.
Patenaude and Blue Devils coach Peter Rossomando are good friends.
“Anytime you play against a school you went to or coached at is always a special feeling. I really grew up on that campus. I was an 18-year-old kid when I got there, had a lot of great experiences, played a lot of football, played a lot of positions and learned a lot about football,” Patenaude said.
But while there are connections there, Patenaude has no plans to take it easy on his alma mater.
“I’m still in contact with a lot of guys I played with there. I always think its special, especially to be playing against them,” Patenaude said. “But when I get out there, I want to score 80 points. It doesn’t matter who it is.”
Stafford – a New Haven, Conn. native – is eager to get after one of the teams that recruited him.
“I’m very excited; I’m going to try to bring the juice this week,” he said.
Larrieux, who is from New London, Conn., has former teammates and friends on Central Connecticut State and is eager to play against them on Saturday.
“I know some of them boys. I got recruited by them; that was my first offer. So there’s some connections there. I’ve been talking to some of my boys, you know, a little trash talk here and there like we used to do,” Larrieux said. “I can’t wait for it, and I’ve been wanting this to happen since I’ve been here. I’m excited.”