Coastal Carolina

Once a strength, how Coastal Carolina is compensating for a key team unit being depleted

At the beginning of the season, the all-important offensive line appeared to be one of Coastal Carolina’s strengths.

The Chanticleers began the season with three returning starters on the front five, and only 11 FBS schools had more.

Junior center/guard Trey Carter and junior and senior tackles Steven Bedosky and Ethan Howard each started all 12 games of the 2018 season, and the unit had a combined 96 career starts. Senior tight end Shadell Bell also returned after starting 10 games in 2018 to bolster the front line.

Howard and Carter have again been mainstays, extending their starting streaks to 32 and 30 games, respectively. But the line has been in upheaval otherwise because of injuries, which has undoubtedly impacted head coach Jamey Chadwell’s play-calling and the Chants’ offensive production in recent weeks.

“The hard part is what you try to do when that happens is certain play calls that you want to run you’ve got to try to think who is where and you try to run it to certain people, the guys that have experience. . . . So it makes it challenging,” said Chadwell, whose team plays at Georgia Southern on Saturday. “It is a challenge when you have that many out. It wears you down. But you’ve still got to find a way.”

In a win over Kansas in Week 2, the Chants started Howard and Bedosky at tackle, Seth Harrell and Jack Franklin at guards, and Carter at center.

Bedosky and Harrell suffered leg injuries during the game and haven’t played since, though Harrell is questionable to return this week and give the unit a boost. In Weeks 3-5, Franklin moved from right guard to left guard, Carter moved to left guard, junior Sam Thompson started at center and redshirt sophomore Carolina Forest High grad Antwine Loper started at right tackle in place of Bedosky.

Loper reportedly had an emergency appendectomy last week and will miss at least a second straight game Saturday, so Howard moved to right tackle and true freshman Kameren Stewart of Irmo, who is listed at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, started at left tackle in a 31-21 loss to Georgia State last Saturday.

“You get used to playing with other guys you’re used to playing with and it comes to a point you don’t have to make the calls you just know what’s happening,” Howard said Wednesday. “You throw new guys into the mix, people get hurt, people shift around – I shifted from left to right and I’ll be at right again next week – so it’s just a learning process with who you’re playing beside and it’s about comfortability. So once you get comfortable it all kind of jells together so if we can make that happen then we should be fine.”

The impact of the injuries are more pronounced because the team is also feeling the loss of two-year starter Brock Hoffman, who transferred to Virginia Tech in the offseason.

This past week, the Chants were held to just 21 points, 105 yards rushing on 27 carries and 322 yards of total offense in 58 plays by Georgia State, which entered the game 127th in the nation in points allowed per game (40.8) and 120th in total defense (479 yards per game).

“No matter what happens, no matter what injuries, whatever it may be, we’ve got to try to figure it out,” Chadwell said. “And I didn’t do a good enough job as the head coach of just putting us in a [good] situation this week with all those injuries and I’ve got to do better.”

Payton possible

CCU starting sophomore quarterback Fred Payton could apparently miss Saturday’s game at Georgia Southern with a shoulder injury.

Payton was rotating his shoulder and had it looked at by the training staff on the sideline during the game against Georgia State, and played sparingly in the second half.

Fellow sophomore Bryce Carpenter, who has played significant minutes in all but one game this season and started two of the seven games he played in last year, may see all or most of the offensive snaps in Statesboro, Ga.

“I won’t say he won’t play, but we have to see how he recovers this week from it and how physically but how he is mentally as well,” Chadwell said. “When you do get pain from a shoulder . . . it affects your throwing. I anticipate him to hopefully play but also you don’t know how that goes with treatments, etc. The plan is for both of them to play right now. We’ll see what happens throughout the week.”

Payton has completed 88 of 136 passes (64.7 percent) for 1,009 yards and six touchdowns with six interceptions and has gained 131 yards on 34 carries this season.

Carpenter is 21 of 35 (60 percent) for 262 yards and five TDs without a pick, and has gained 208 yards on 36 carries. He was 9 of 14 for 118 yards and two touchdowns and gained 29 yards on four carries last week.

“I think they both do a good job they just have to be consistent . . . because as they go the rest of us goes,” Chadwell said. “If we’re not running the ball as well but we’re able to make some of the plays in the air then that opens up the run game a little bit. We weren’t able to do that consistently last week and I think that’s why we struggled some.

“Georgia Southern is going to pose a big challenge for us because they’re really good up front in the box and we’re going to have to make some plays in the perimeter and those quarterbacks will have to do that.”

Breaking through

The Sun Belt Conference has its third ranked FBS football team in conference history.

Appalachian State has earned the Sun Belt’s highest football ranking, coming in at No. 24 in both the Associated Press and Amway Coaches USA Today Sports Top 25 polls for the week beginning Oct. 13.

The Mountaineers (5-0), who defeated CCU 56-37 on Sept. 28 in Boone, N.C., also have a win over North Carolina this season and have a game at South Carolina scheduled on Nov. 9, earned the conference’s first-ever ranking in the Coaches Poll.

Previously in the AP Poll, Troy was ranked 25th on Nov. 13, 2016 and the Mountaineers were ranked 25th on Oct. 21, 2018.

Record setters

The Coastal Carolina women’s golf team set a program record en route to a second-place finish in the 22-team Palmetto Intercollegiate at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Turtle Point course on Tuesday.

The team broke a program record in the second round with an 8-under 280 team score, which eclipsed the previous best 18-hole score by a shot and moved the Chants into a tie for first heading into Tuesday’s final round.

CCU’s 2-over 290 left it one shot behind tournament host and champion College of Charleston at 1-over 865, which is the third-lowest 54-hole team total in tournament history.

Sophomore Jenjira Jinangkul of Thailand tied for fourth at 4-under 71-67-74–212, which was her career-best and tied for the fourth-best score in CCU history. Her 5-under 67 in the matched the third-lowest 18-hole score in CCU history, which she also shot as a freshman. Sophomore Tiffany Arafi of Switzerland had a career-best finish and score with a tie for seventh at 3-under 72-68-73–213.

Sophomore Caitlin Evans-Brand of England tied for 19th at 2-over 218, freshman Heidrun Hylnsdotter of Iceland tied for 42nd at 223 and freshman Sophia Carlsen of Denmark shot a 242.

The tournament concluded the fall season for the women, who finished 11th, ninth and sixth in their other three tournaments, improving their finish with each event, and will begin the spring season at the Moon Golf Invitational from Feb. 17-18 at the Duran Golf Club in Melbourne, Fla.

Volleyball holds court

Coming off a big victory Wednesday over Appalachian State in front of a crowd of 1,757, the largest ever to watch a volleyball game at The HTC Center, the CCU volleyball team travels to Boone, N.C., on Friday night for a rematch as it looks to remain perfect in Sun Belt Conference play.

The Chanticleers sit in first-place of the Sun Belt with an unblemished 7-0 record and are 17-2 overall. CCU knocked off App. State in four sets by the score of 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, and 25-22. Sophomore Anett Nemeth led Coastal offensively for the third-straight match with a match-high 20 kills. Junior Kyla Manning added 11 kills.

Saturday’s Game

Who: Coastal Carolina (3-3, 0-2 Sun Belt Conference) at Georgia Southern (2-3, 1-1)

When: 3 p.m.

Where: Allen E. Paulson Stadium in Statesboro, Ga.

TV: Live online on ESPN3

Radio: WRNN 99.5 FM

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.