Despite the passing of two weeks, Coastal Carolina (3-2, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) apparently finds itself in the same uncertain position regarding the availability of starting senior quarterback Kilton Anderson.
Anderson suffered a high sprain on his left ankle early in the second half of a 30-28 win at Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 22 and has been out since.
He was called a game-time decision in CCU’s last game at Troy two weeks ago, and has been deemed a game-time decision again for Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Louisiana-Monroe (2-4, 0-2) at Brooks Stadium.
Anderson’s absence would be significant considering he is ranked third in the nation in Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) among qualified QBs behind only Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray with a rating of 90.7.
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Anderson has practiced this week.
“He’s moving around okay. I would anticipate there’s a good shot he’ll be able to [play], but we’ll see where we are Friday and Saturday,” CCU head coach Joe Moglia said. “He understands what he needs to do, so he’s very much involved in meetings. He understands what’s going on. He knows exactly what our game plan is. So if we want to take care of that ankle, we’re not going to give him more reps to be able to get back, he knows what he needs to do. We just want to make sure the ankle is as strong as it can be.”
Anderson has completed 39 of 56 passes (69.6 percent) for 564 yards, six touchdowns and one interception that came on a deep pass on the final play of the first half against Campbell, and has rushed 34 times for 215 yards (6.32 yards per carry) and a TD this season. He completed 16 consecutive pass attempts in games against Alabama-Birmingham and Campbell.
“He’s very aware of what we want to do as an offense, he’s very aware of film and our opponents each and every week,” CCU senior running back Marcus Outlow said. “Kilton is pretty much prepared mentally more than he is physically. He’s very smart, very intelligent when it comes to playing the quarterback position. To me he looks good.
“We’re behind Kilton 100 percent whether he wants to suit up or whether he feels he’s not ready to play yet.”
If Anderson can’t go or is limited, freshman and reigning Florida Mr. Football Bryce Carpenter would likely get his second consecutive start.
Carpenter has completed 27 of 34 passes (79.4 percent) for 300 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. In his first start against Troy two weeks ago, Carpenter was 18 of 22 for 172 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
Carpenter is 99th among both qualified and unqualified signal callers in QBR at 55.8.
“Bryce has done a phenomenal job of stepping up and leading our offense, just making sure he’s in tune with what we have going on, and knowing our opponent as well and what we want to do with the offense going forward with a game plan,” Outlow said.
Home sweet home
Saturday’s contest will be just the second home game of the season for Coastal.
Because the Chants had to move their game against Campbell to Buies Creek, N.C., due to Hurricane Florence, a 47-24 win over UAB on Sept. 8 is their lone game at Brooks Stadium.
“Going off the last home game, what we did here, we’re just excited to get back in front of our fans, in front of our community and just put on another show and come out here and play our hearts out,” Outlow said. “It definitely feels good to be back home, back where we’re comfortable.”
After being displaced for three weeks through its game at Troy on Sept. 29 because the CCU campus was closed due to Florence and subsequent flooding, normal has seemed abnormal to the team.
“When we first got back it was kind of a shock to most guys, it felt like a whole new place,” Outlow said. “But I feel we settled in pretty quickly. We came back and got back in the groove of things pretty fast and just remembered the bigger purpose, and that’s to win games.
“We feel pretty much rejuvenated to be back in our own home and our own area. It’s kind of like before guys took it for granted. So I think a lot of our team and the staff as well are a little bit more appreciative of what we’ve got around here knowing what we dealt with. We’re definitely excited to be back in our stadium.”
The team has had a lighter schedule over the past two weeks with its bye week. It practiced only three days last week and didn’t have much contact in practices this week, Moglia said.
“For three weeks we were not able to be on campus, and that kind of gets to you after a little while,” Moglia said. “When we got home I know I was exhausted, I know the guys on the staff were exhausted, and I know our guys were exhausted. Frankly our guys really, really needed a break.”
Though their football workload has been relatively light, the players have had a more extensive class workload now that professors have to make up for three weeks of lost classes.
“They had a lot of catching up to do with regard to school, so there are extra things going on there, but that is our responsibility,” Moglia said. “The academic side of this is something we’ve got to make sure we get right. But we did what we could to give our guys a break and try to balance that with [fixing] the mistakes we’ve made over the span of the first few games so we can improve those over the span of the rest of the season.”
Considering the circumstances, the Chants could not have scheduled a more opportune time for a bye week.
“I can’t imagine another time in the season we needed more of a break than we did when we came back from three weeks in evacuation mode,” Moglia said.
Coastal is back on the road for the next two weeks at Massachusetts and Georgia State, so it will play just two of its first eight games at home before a three-game home stand.
Rabon’s waiting game
Evan Rabon’s senior season is getting away from him.
Limited by a nagging back injury, the punter and place kicker from South Florence High who started at both positions last year has yet to play this season.
“I ask him probably once a week how he’s doing and he keeps telling me he’s getting better, but he hasn’t been good enough to go play,” Moglia said.
Rabon was on Athlon Sports magazine’s Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference Third Team as a punter, but he will likely have to earn his jobs back if he ever gets healthy enough to play.
Sophomore Charles Ouverson of Murrells Inlet and St. James High booted a 64-yard punt against Troy that is 1 yard shy of Rabon’s school record, and added a 57-yarder against Campbell while averaging 42 yards on 16 punts this season.
Though freshman kicker Massimo Biscardi has missed 3 of 19 extra points this year, he is 5-for-5 on field goals on distances from 27 to 50 yards.
“It was certainly his job to begin with. He’s on the team leadership council. Everybody feels good about Evan, and when he’s able to come back we will certainly look at him and we’re certainly going to make sure he winds up getting work,” Moglia said. “But it would be unfair for me to promise now – we don’t even know if he’s coming back for sure – that he would just automatically wind up getting his job back.”