Who: Georgia State (3-2, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) at Coastal Carolina (3-2, 0-1)
When: 5 p.m.
Where: Brooks Stadium in Conway, S.C.
Occasion: Family & Hall of Fame weekend
TV: Live online on ESPN+
Radio: WRNN 99.5 FM
Live stats: Through coastal.statbroadcast.com and GameTracker
Coastal 37-34 on Oct. 27, 2018 in Atlanta
Strength: Pass defense
Weakness: Offensive line depth
Weakness: Run defense
Coastal Carolina’s running backs vs. Georgia State’s run defense: The Chanticleers prefer to run the offense through the running game and Georgia State has struggled to stop the run all season. The Panthers rank 118th in FBS with 218.8 yards allowed on the ground per game, though they had their best game of the season in that regard in last week’s 52-38 win over Arkansas State, allowing 115 yards on 22 carries for a 5.2-yard average per carry. “Certainly I think teams are going to come out and try to attack us [on the ground] until we can say, ‘Hey, we can stop the run,’ ”Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott said.
Coastal averages 226.8 rushing yards per game to rank 21st in the country and average 5.2 yards per rush. The Chants will be without two starting offensive linemen for the fourth straight game, though they’ve rushed for 888 yards in their absence in the past three games against Norfolk State, Massachusetts and App. State. C.J. Marable leads the Chants with 493 yards rushing and five Chants have rushed for at least 90 yards this season.
Players to watch
Junior running back C.J. Marable (5-10, 190): Fell 5 yards shy of his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game in CCU’s last game at App. State, and leads the Chants in rushing yards with 493 and is second in receiving yards with 185.
Sophomore quarterback Fred Payton (6-2, 190): Coming off a game in which he took all 66 offensive snaps, the Suwanee, Ga. native has completed 78 of 120 passes (65 percent) for 910 yards and six touchdowns with six interceptions, and has rushed for 100 yards and two scores.
Senior cornerback Chandler Kryst (5-9, 170): The fifth-year senior from Tega Cay is tied for fourth in FBS with three interceptions – two against Kansas and one against Norfolk State – and has returned them a combined 32 yards.
Senior quarterback Dan Ellington (6-3, 205): Leads the Sun Belt Conference with 308 yards of total offense per game, completing 104 of 161 passes for 1,228 yards and 12 TDs with just two interceptions, and gaining 313 yards on 76 carries with two scores.
Senior running back Tra Barnett (5-10, 185): Leads the team with 468 yards on 75 carries for a 6.2 yard-per-carry average, has three rushing TDs, and has five receptions for 32 yards.
Junior linebacker Trajan Stephens-McQueen (6-1, 230): Has a team-leading 42 tackles to rank sixth in the Sun Belt with 8.4 per game and has two interceptions.
He said it
“We feel it’s going to be a great fight down there for us on Saturday, one that’s probably going to come right down to the wire just like all our ballgames do. We have to prep really well and get over this Arkansas State win, because it’s the first time we’ve ever beaten Arkansas State, so we’re trying to move that very, very quickly and do the things necessary to get us in a position to win.” – Elliott
“It was much needed for some rest and some injury purposes. I thought we had a solid week of working on some fundamentals and working on some things we need to correct as we move forward. Hopefully you’ll see a refreshed team this Saturday.” – CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell on his team’s open date
“We’re just going to try to lock in these next couple games and put a couple wins together and earn our respect. I feel like we’re right there so we’ve got a couple games coming up that we can get so we’ll be prepared.” – CCU sophomore wide receiver Jeremiah Miller on Coastal’s five-game conference losing streak
With its loss to Appalachian State two weeks ago, Coastal has lost five consecutive Sun Belt Conference contests to fall to 4-13 in league games since joining the conference, and four of those five losses have been by at least 16 points. The Chanticleers are facing the team they last beat in the league, 37-34 in Atlanta last Oct. 27.
“The five-game losing streak, that is in the back of our minds,” CCU junior defensive lineman C.J. Brewer said. “But the whole team isn’t trying to think about that, it’s a matter of just getting prepared for this next game. We lost to App. State but it’s over with so now we’re just ready to get on Georgia State so we can start this journey in the Sun Belt and let teams know we’re really here and ready to play.”
The Panthers have been very impressive in two of their wins this season, knocking off Tennessee 38-30 to start the season and beating a traditionally strong Arkansas State program 52-38 last week with a school-record 722 yards of total offense. The Panthers have been much less impressive in their other three games, needing to rally for a 48-42 win over FCS program Furman, being crushed 57-10 at Western Michigan and falling 37-34 in three overtimes to Texas State.
Georgia State has rushed for 200 yards in all five games this season and eight of its past 10, and averages 234.2 yards per game on the ground this season to rank 17th in the nation. That contributes to the team’s 480 yards of offense per game, which ranks 23rd nationally, and 36.4 points per game.
“We’ve been I think very consistent offensively for the most part over the course of the season other than the one Western Michigan debacle we had,” Elliott said. “ . . . We’re not trying to be cute or fancy and do a lot of things that try to trick a lot of people, we’re just trying to line up and block them and do the things necessary to be successful.”
Ellington has been dynamic this season, twice being named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week. He set career highs with 382 yards passing and 451 yards of total offense last week against Arkansas State. “Their quarterback is arguably the best player in our league or one of the best players,” Chadwell said.
The Panthers have struggled on defense, giving up 40.8 points, 218.8 rushing yards and 479 total yards per game, which all rank 118th or worse among the 130 FBS teams. Coastal has been much better defensively, ranking in the top 20 in the country in both passing yards allowed (167.2) and total yards allowed (289.4) per game.
▪ Coastal’s defense leads the Sun Belt in four different categories – interceptions (6), first downs allowed (82), passing yards allowed per game (167.2), and total defense per game (289.4 yards).
▪ Coastal has held a time of possession advantage in all five games this season and averages 34:37 per game.
▪ Largely because of its Sun Belt struggles, CCU is just 3-9 in its last 12 home games since early in the 2017 season.
▪ Though Elliott is in his third season at Georgia State, the team had a coaching shakeup this year with six new assistants, including offensive coordinator Brad Glenn.
▪ CCU defensive line coach Skylor Magee came in February from Georgia State, where he spent two seasons as a defensive assistant and helped the Panthers set season per-game records for fewest points, rushing yards, rushing yards per attempt and sacks.
Coastal Carolina -4.5
Coastal Carolina 37, Georgia State 34: It should be a shootout considering both teams’ offenses. Coastal’s edge on defense should be the difference for a repeat of last year’s score.