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
Live stats: Through georgiasouthern.statbroadcast.com and GameTracker
Ga. Southern 41-17 on Nov. 17, 2018 in Conway
Strength: Pass defense
Weakness: Offensive line depth
Strength: Rushing offense
Weakness: Passing offense
Coastal Carolina’s defensive front seven vs. Georgia Southern’s running game: Georgia Southern ranks 23rd in FBS with 223.4 rushing yards per game out of its pistol triple-option offense, and a somewhat depleted Coastal defense gave up 350 rushing yards last week to Georgia State, which is ranked eighth at 253.5 yards per game after running over the Chanticleers. Five Eagles have at least 188 yards rushing on the season led by running back Logan Wright, who has 294 yards on 52 attempts but will miss the game with an injury. Redshirt junior quarterback Shai Werts of Clinton is perhaps the most dangerous runner in the offense. He posted his eighth career 100-yard rushing game on Oct. 3 at South Alabama.
“Our challenge is can we stop their quarterback in space, which we had trouble doing last week against Georgia State,” CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Their quarterback is the guy there on offense. He makes them go. The thing with him is you can play everything right and he can just make a guy miss and take it the distance. They’ve got good backs and I think they’re good up front. When they do throw they have some talented receivers, so he makes them go offensively.”
Players to watch
Junior running back C.J. Marable (5-10, 190): After four consecutive games with at least 95 yards rushing, he was held to 15 yards on 10 carries last week and leads the Chants in rushing yards with 508 and is second in receiving yards with 233.
Sophomore quarterback Bryce Carpenter (6-1, 200): He has yet to throw an interception, completing 21 of 35 passes for 262 yards and five touchdowns, and has run for 208 yards on 36 carries and could see the bulk of playing time with starter Fred Payton nursing an injury.
Junior linebacker Teddy Gallagher (6-1, 230): He’ll be relied on for a plethora of tackles against the Eagles’ triple option and leads the Chants with 50 tackles this season, including three for a loss of yards.
Junior quarterback Shai Werts (5-11, 205): The Newberry High graduate has missed two games this season but has 188 yards on 47 carries and has completed 16 of 32 passes for 115 yards.
Senior placekicker Tyler Bass (5-10, 185): The Irmo native leads the nation with 2.4 field goals per game and is 12 of 15 on the season. He has made 24 career field goals of at least 40 yards.
Senior cornerback Kindle Vildor (5-11, 190): The preseason Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year has seven career interceptions and 21 career pass breakups and had a league-leading 15 passes defensed in 2018.
He said it
“It was really important. We were in a situation where we had to finish that game. If you didn’t look at the scoreboard and looked at the statistics you would have thought Georgia Southern probably won easily. . . . Where we were sitting in the season we needed that win and we just have to continue to get better and see if we can go get another one.” – Georgia Southern head coach Chad Lunsford on a 20-17 double overtime win over South Alabama in the team’s last game
“It’s very frustrating, especially as an offensive lineman. That’s where you kind of take pride in yourself and the four guys beside you and tight ends too is being able to run the ball and especially last week it wasn’t very effective. That kind of hurts. . . . You come in, you watch film and see what you did wrong, see what you did right and see how you can improve.” – CCU senior tackle Ethan Howard on rushing for just 105 yards on 27 carries last week vs. Georgia State
“We still think about it as it’s a process. Every week we try to play our best game and keep it moving. We don’t try to push things, that’s how you start losing focus and having errors on the field. Each week we try to eliminate our missed assignments.” – CCU senior linebacker Laqavious Paul
Weather could play a factor in the outcome, as a tropical system is predicted to go through Statesboro, Ga., during the game.
The Chants are trying to break a six-game losing streak in Sun Belt Conference play, which matches the team’s longest set in their first season in the conference in 2017. Those losses came in succession as part of a nine-game losing streak during the 3-9 season.
“I was a part of a team that went on like a nine-game losing streak, and we’re not having that happen again,” Howard said. “So we know what we have to do, that’s really the bottom line. I don’t feel like anyone’s anxious about it though.”
Georgia Southern has had plenty of time to prepare for the Chants, as they will have gone 15 days between games by kickoff. “To be able to have 16 days that allows some of the guys that do have bumps and bruises to feel a little bit better going into this game, so obviously it’s been a big plus for us to have those days,” Lunsford said.
Coastal will be without several starters due to injury and quarterback Fred Payton is questionable with an apparent shoulder injury, so fellow sophomore Bryce Carpenter might take most or all of the snaps, possibly resulting in Coastal becoming more of a running team. Georgia Southern relies almost solely on the run, passing for just 55.4 yards per game to rank 130th in the nation.
The Eagles are also dealing with a few injuries, as leading rusher Wright will be out for at least a month after injuring his neck and senior starting center Jakob Cooper is out because of concussions. Offensive lineman Brian Miller and defensive end Justin Ellis were lost early in the season.
“[Injuries] is something we’ve kind of fought all year,” Lunsford said. “We’ve got about 12 scholarship guys that are probably not available for the rest of the season. We always talk about next man up around here and we’ll never use that as an excuse.”
A defense that allowed just eight first downs in a double-overtime win at South Alabama on Oct. 3 is pretty much intact, however, as 10 defensive players have started each of the first five games of the season, including senior defensive backs Monquavion Brinson and Vildor, who comprise one of the top cornerback duos in the country with 13 career interceptions combined.
“Defensively their corners take a lot of wide receivers out of the game,” Chadwell said. “Both corners are great players and they can lock you up. Then they’re able to put an extra hat or two in the box and really load the box on you, so it makes it tough to run and you’ve got to complete some passes.”
▪ The Eagles rarely throw, but when they do they don’t turn the ball over. Werts’ streak of 150 attempts without an interception dating back to late 2017 is the second longest streak among FBS quarterbacks behind Kent State’s Dustin Crum’s 153 attempts.
▪ Georgia Southern ranks second in FBS in kickoff return defense (10.75 yards per return) and fifth in defensive touchdowns with two.
▪ Georgia Southern is 4-1 all-time against CCU dating back to 2006, though the series is 1-1 in the past two years with both as Sun Belt members.
▪ The Eagles have won six of their past eight games off an open date and are 9-3 in such games since 2011.
▪ Both teams try to possess the ball on offense, as Georgia Southern averages 31:30 time of possession per game and CCU averages 33:01.
Georgia Southern -6.5
Georgia Southern 23, Coastal Carolina 20: The Chants are probably still a little too shorthanded because of injuries this week to end their Sun Belt losing streak.