Who: Coastal Carolina (2-1) at Massachusetts (0-3)
When: 1 p.m.
Where: McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst, Mass.
Occasion: Final non-conference game
TV: Live on FloFootball.com and NESN
Radio: WRNN 99.5-FM
Live stats: Through https://umassathletics.com/sidearmstats/football/summary and GameTracker
Coastal 24-13 on Oct. 20, 2018 in Amherst, Mass.
Strength: Defensive line, RB
Weakness: Offensive line depth
Strength: WR, left side of OL
Coastal Carolina’s running backs vs. UMass’ defensive front seven: Coastal rushed for 401 yards on 59 carries last week against Norfolk State, and will likely attempt to establish the run against a team ranked 126th in FBS in rushing yards allowed at 267 per game. Coastal is without a pair of starting offensive linemen but primary backs C.J. Marable and Jacqez Hairston are healthy and still fresh this early in the season, and freshman Reese White appears on the verge of gaining some carries as well. The Minutemen have a freshmen and pair of sophomore starting at the defensive line and linebacker positions, and the primary backups at all seven positions are freshmen or sophomores with the exception of one junior.
Players to watch
Junior running back C.J. Marable (5-10, 190): He’s coming off his second straight 100-yard rushing game and leads the Chants in rushing attempts (61), rushing yards (298), receptions (10), receiving yards (116), touchdowns (4) and all-purpose yards (452).
Sophomore quarterback Fred Payton (6-2, 190): While splitting time with Bryce Carpenter, the Suwanee, Ga. native has completed 42 of 71 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns with four interceptions, and has rushed for 44 yards.
Senior cornerback Chandler Kryst (5-9, 170): The fifth-year senior from Tega Cay is tied for the national FBS lead with three interceptions – two against Kansas and one against Norfolk State – and has returned them a combined 32 yards.
Senior quarterback Randall West (6-4, 220): The fifth-year senior has completed 29 of 48 passes (60.4 percent) completed for 231 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while splitting time with junior Andrew Brito.
Junior running back Bilal Ally (5-11, 185): He leads the Minutemen with both 41 carries and 214 yards rushing (5.2-yard average per carry) this seasons and has surpassed 1,000 career yards on 213 carries with six rushing TDs.
Junior linebacker Cole McCubrey (6-1, 235): He leads the team in tackles by 11 with 29, including a team-high 12 unassisted, and has one for a loss, a pass breakup, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble.
He said it
“Since we’ve been here we’ve been more emotionally invested in the process of what it takes to win, not necessarily the outcomes. So I think part of the reason we’ve been able to stay positive and keep working and keep grinding is we’ve always been focused on the process of us and being the best versions of ourselves every day. . . . We’re still really positive. A lot of kids are really improving. We’ve come exponentially far but we’ve still got exponentially far to go.” – UMass first-year coach Walt Bell
“It’s going to be a challenge for our defense because they play at the fastest pace that we’ve seen. They’re trying to get as many plays as possible as fast as they can go, and that’s something we’ve not seen this year. They play a unique defense, a unique front that’s a little different than what you normally see so they can cause some issues if you’re not prepared for that.” – CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell
“If we take our preparation lightly, if we don’t put our focus where it needs to be on us and things we need to do, we’re not going to go up there and play well and they can beat us.” – Chadwell
If Coastal wants to get its passing game on track before it begins Sun Belt Conference play next week at Appalachian State, the Minutemen might be obliging. They have one of the worst defenses in the country against both the run and pass, allowing nearly 270 passing yards per game and a completion percentage of 73 percent.
Coastal sophomore quarterbacks Fred Payton and Bryce Carpenter are completing 56.6 percent of their passes and the Chants have thrown for only 239 yards combined in their past two games.
“We have to throw the ball better,” Chadwell said. “It doesn’t mean we have to throw it more, but the ones that are there we have to make. We missed some wide open guys [last week] that we have to hit if we’re going to be able to be balanced.”
UMass is clearly rebuilding under new coach Walt Bell. The school’s hire of Bell, 35, in the offseason was widely lauded, as Bell is considered one of the rising and dynamic young recruiters and offensive minds in college football.
Bell has 12 previous years of FBS coaching experience, including five seasons as the offensive coordinator at three institutions: Arkansas State (2014-15), Maryland (2016-17) and Florida State (2018). Bell also worked in the North Carolina (2012-13), Southern Miss (2010-11), Oklahoma State (2009) and Memphis (2007-08) programs prior to his arrival in Amherst, Mass.
Most recently, Bell oversaw the Florida State passing offense that ranked second in the ACC and 28th in the country in passing yards per game (270.1) in 2018.
But it has been tough sledding thus far for the Minutemen, who have fallen to Rutgers 48-21, Southern Illinois 45-20 and Charlotte 52-17.
▪Coastal is looking for its third consecutive win, which would match its longest win streak as an FBS program. CCU won three straight against UAB, Campbell and Louisiana last September.
▪ The Chants are looking to go 3-0 against UMass. They earned their first win as an FBS program and over an FBS opponent 38-28 in Conway to begin the 2017 season and won 24-13 last year in Amherst.
▪ CCU is 7-for-7 on fourth down conversions, making them one of 22 teams who are perfect on fourth down.
▪ Coastal is averaging a time of possession of 35:30, while a quick-snap UMass offense is only possessing the ball 26:15 per game.
▪ UMass had to replace the nation’s leading receiver this season, as Arizona Cardinals second-round pick Andy Isabella had 1,698 receiving yards in 2018.
▪ At 35, Bell is the fourth-youngest head coach in FBS this season. Chadwell is 42.
Coastal Carolina -17
Coastal 48, UMass 24: The Chants should be able to score often against one of the worst defenses in the nation.