Coastal Carolina

Who will start at quarterback for Coastal Carolina? It’s anyone’s guess

A host of quarterbacks go through drills in front of interim Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell (right) during a preseason practice this fall. Chadwell has yet to name a starter at QB for Saturday’s season-opener against Massachusetts.
A host of quarterbacks go through drills in front of interim Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell (right) during a preseason practice this fall. Chadwell has yet to name a starter at QB for Saturday’s season-opener against Massachusetts. For The Sun News

Florida coach Jim McElwain and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh have gained attention this week for their back-and-forth gamesmanship, neither willing to name their starting quarterback for the teams’ meeting Saturday.

Coastal Carolina interim head coach Jamey Chadwell is playing his own game of cat and mouse with the University of Massachusetts.

Chadwell, the associate head coach and offensive coordinator who is handling coaching duties while head coach Joe Moglia is taking a five-month medical sabbatical, declined Wednesday to name a starting quarterback for Coastal’s first game as a Football Bowl Subdivision program at home Saturday against UMass.

He even failed to trim the list of potential starters to three or four players during a press conference on campus just three days prior to the game.

Coastal Carolina currently has six players listed as potential starting quarterbacks on its depth chart.

“There in pregame when we have about 12 quarterbacks out there warming up they’re going to be watching pretty hard to find out who it is,” Chadwell said. “… But I’ll be honest, I’d like to know who it’s going to be myself. It would make me feel a lot better too if I felt better about the consistency there.”

I’ll be honest, I’d like to know who it’s going to be myself. It would make me feel a lot better too if I felt better about the consistency there.

Coastal Carolina interim head coach Jamey Chadwell

It could be gamesmanship, or it could be that as Chadwell said, none of the eight quarterbacks on Coastal’s roster have won the job outright in practices and scrimmages.

“We have a plan for it right now with what we want to do. You’ll probably see multiple guys play, probably early. We’ll practice again [Thursday] and make the decision going from there. We have in our mind what we want to do, who it’s going to be and how we’re going to use every one that we’ll play, then we’ll see what happens Saturday night. If somebody’s got a hot hand you’ll see them going on, if not then we’ll try to put in there whoever gives us the best chance to move the ball.”

The candidates listed at the top of the depth chart are:

▪  Austin Bradley, 6-3, 205, sophomore – Played in seven games in 2016 with one start and was used primarily as a rusher. He was 7 of 20 for 49 yards with a TD and two interceptions, and also gained 25 yards on 13 carries with a score.

▪  Tyler Keane, 5-9, 200, senior – The Myrtle Beach High lefthander was 6-1 as a starter and completed 67 of 105 passes for 809 yards and 10 TDs with two interceptions.

▪  Josh Stilley, 6-2, 205, junior – Earned the starting job in 2016 and was 33 of 54 for 427 yards with three TDs and one interception before injuring a knee in the third game and missing the rest of the season. He also gained 77 yards on 18 carries and scored a TD rushing.

▪  Chance Thrasher, 6-2, 220, sophomore – Was heralded in high school but has missed the past two seasons with shoulder injuries. He was temporarily moved to linebacker last spring but was moved back to QB prior to preseason camp because of his progress from injury.

▪  Austin Wilson, 6-2, 225, graduate senior – Grad transfer from Syracuse, where he played in nine games and completed 49 of 85 passes for 418 yards with a touchdown and seven interceptions.

▪  Dalton Demos, 6-5, 210, graduate senior – He began his career at CCU, transferred to a junior college and signed with Northern Iowa, where he played sparingly as a QB and later wide receiver.

“I’m not concerned with who we have,” Chadwell said. “They all have their strengths. I think it’s just more so what you have to do to win that game. Maybe the strength of one of the quarterbacks is not going to help us be successful versus what the defense is trying to do. So that’s part of the reason we’ve been trying to find out quarterback-wise who can do what, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, and compare it to the game plan we want to put together and see who gives us the best chance.”

In his four years at Charleston Southern before joining the CCU staff, Chadwell ran an option offense with flexibility. The offense may change with the quarterback in the game, as it did last year at Coastal when the quarterback position was hit with several injuries.

“We have a good idea of who it’s going to be and who’s going to play and when, but also with what they’re capable of doing can we move the ball and score touchdowns?” Chadwell said. “If we can’t, then we have to find somebody else to help us do something a little different. I don’t want to say we have two game plans, but we have different ways we’re going to have to attack to try to put points on the board right now.”

The Chants also have former Fresno State quarterback Kilton Anderson and freshman Darius Harper of Knoxville, Tenn., listed as quarterbacks on the roster.

Even starting senior tailback Osharmar Abercrombie was coy when asked about a starting QB on Wednesday.

“We still haven’t decided who is going to be the starting quarterback, but I have faith in all the guys at quarterback right now,” Abercrombie said. “… All of them are looking good right now.”

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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