Coastal Carolina

CCU’s start this year has been nice. Now the Chants face the Sun Belt’s heavyweights

Coastal Carolina freshman quarterback Fred Payton runs for yardage against Georgia State in Atlanta on Saturday.
Coastal Carolina freshman quarterback Fred Payton runs for yardage against Georgia State in Atlanta on Saturday. For The Sun News

Coastal Carolina has had a nice season up to this point.

Coming off a 3-9 season in which it went 2-6 in the Sun Belt Conference in the program’s first season in the league and Football Bowl Subdivision, the Chanticleers are 5-3 and 2-2 in the conference with four games remaining.

They are one win from becoming eligible for their first bowl game.

But that one win may be a tough one to get.

For all that Coastal has accomplished this season, a true gauge of its progress is coming in the next three weeks.

The Chants face two of the top three teams in the conference this season, as well as a perennial conference power in a three-game homestand that includes Appalachian State this week followed by Arkansas State and Georgia Southern.

The Chants have already faced the other top-three team, Troy, and did not fare well in a 45-21 road loss on Sept. 29 that ended three consecutive weeks away from campus due to Hurricane Florence and subsequent flooding.

“We know that the three games coming up are statement games for us as a program,” junior Shadell Bell said. “You have App. State, who has been playing top Power Five schools [close]; you have Arkansas State, who has been the Sun Belt leader; you have Georgia Southern, who is doing phenomenal this year.

“So these three games will be important for us, but we’re taking them one day at a time, one game at a time. That’s all we can do.”

Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1) was ranked No. 25 in the AP Top 25 Poll before being beaten 34-14 by Georgia Southern (7-1, 4-0) last Thursday, and Arkansas State (4-4, 1-3) has played in a bowl game in each of the past seven seasons and features 2017 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Justice Hansen at quarterback.

Saturday’s opponent is the model Coastal is attempting to emulate.

Appalachian State went 7-5 overall and 6-2 in the conference in its first year in the Sun Belt in 2014 after moving up from FCS to FBS, and has gone 35-11 overall and 24-4 in the conference since.

“They’ve done a really good job,” Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield said of the Chants. “Last year, not having the head coach there I think hurt them a little bit, but since he’s been back this year you can see how they’re playing. They’re doing extremely well offensively. They’ve put pressure on every defense they’ve played this year. Sitting at 5-3 they’re right there in the race.

“. . . What they’re doing is obviously headed in the right direction.”

QB or not QB?

Coastal Carolina has its own questions about quarterback availability.

Senior Kilton Anderson started the first four games but has played in just about two quarters in the past four games because of a high ankle sprain. He did not play last week. Moglia expects him to be available, though he’ll likely still be hampered by the left ankle injury.

Freshman Fred Payton has led Coastal to its last two victories, throwing two touchdown passes in the second half of a 24-13 win over UMass and completing 12 of 17 passes for 222 yards and rushing for 62 yards on 17 carries while taking nearly all of CCU’s offensive snaps in last week’s 37-34 win at Georgia State.

Freshman Bryce Carpenter, who has played in six games and started two, was not dressed due to injury last week and could miss another week.

“Kilton looks probably as good now as he has been, whether or not he starts is a function of whether he’s 100 percent, but he’s definitely going to be able to play,” Moglia said. “Fred I think is coming along and getting more experience and he certainly deserves the opportunity to be in there. . . . My guess is Fred will probably start unless Kilton turns out to be 100 percent by game day.

“If there is any concern about Bryce we won’t suit him.”

Final kickoffs set

Coastal’s final three home games of the season over the next two weeks will all have 5 p.m. kickoffs – Saturday against Appalachian State, Nov. 10 against Arkansas State and Nov. 17 against Georgia Southern. CCU is making up classes missed because of Hurricane Florence on Saturdays, so the late starts accommodate that.

This week is Homecoming, Nov. 10 is Hall of Fame Weekend and Nov. 17 is Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day. Tickets are available at www.GoCCUSports.com or by calling the ticket office at 843-347-TIXX or 1-877-4CHANTS. CCU concludes the regular season at South Alabama at 3 p.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 23.

Tyler on list

Junior wide receiver Ky’Jon Tyler is one of 69 players nominated from NCAA FBS schools for the 2018 Burlsworth Trophy, which is given to a football player who began his career as a walk-on and has shown outstanding performance on the field. Former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the past two awards.

Tyler came to Coastal Carolina from Sumter in 2015 as a walk-on, redshirted his freshman season, when he was named the practice squad offensive MVP, and this season leads the Chants in kick returns (10), kick return yards (205), punt returns (4) and punt return yards (30). He is also second on the team with 17 receptions and 285 receiving yards, with an average of 16.8 yards per catch.

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