Who: Troy (3-4, 1-2 Sun Belt Conference) at Coastal Carolina (3-4, 0-3)
When: 3 p.m.
Where: Brooks Stadium, Conway
TV: Live online on ESPN3
Radio: WRNN 99.5 FM
Live stats: Through coastal.statbroadcast.com and GameTracker
Troy 45-21 on Sept. 29, 2018 in Troy, Ala.
Strength: Pass defense
Weakness: Offensive line depth
Strength: Passing offense
Weakness: Defensive youth
Coastal Carolina’s defensive backfield vs. Troy’s wide receivers: CCU senior cornerbacks Mallory Claybourne and Chandler Kryst will have their hands full with Trojans receivers Kaylon Geiger and Khalil McClain, who have a combined 69 catches for 851 yards and 10 touchdowns. Troy’s nine 100-yard receiving games by receivers on the season is tied with Arkansas State for the most nationally. “They’ve got two receivers that are arguably two of the top three in the conference,” CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “They can run and they’re big. So they spread you out, they play fast and they get those guys in some one-on-ones, and their quarterback has had a lot of success this year and over the past couple years.”
The Trojans average 309.7 passing yards behind senior QB Kaleb Barker to rank first in the Sun Belt and 13th in the nation. Coastal is only allowing 145.6 passing yards per game to rank fifth in the country, but few opponents have thrown it as much as Troy will. “They have some dynamic play-makers at receiver,” CCU junior linebacker Teddy Gallagher said. “They’re looking to throw the ball downfield. They’re not looking to check down the ball really at all. We’ve just got to make plays and whether we’re in man or zone we have to match up well, just try to get them behind the sticks and make plays and tackle them when they do catch the ball.”
Players to watch
Junior running back C.J. Marable (6-1, 206): Though he’s been held to just 51 rushing yards in the past two games, he still leads the Chants in rushing yards with 544 on 109 carries and is second on the team with both 22 catches and 257 receiving yards.
Sophomore quarterback Bryce Carpenter (6-1, 200): He has yet to throw an interception, completing 32 of 49 passes for 363 yards and six touchdowns, and has run for 264 yards on 59 carries with a TD.
Junior linebacker Teddy Gallagher (6-1, 230): He recorded a team-high 15 tackles against Georgia Southern for his thrid game this season with double-digit tackles and leads the Chants with 65 total tackles this season, including three for a loss of yards.
Senior quarterback Kaleb Barker (5-11, 205): The Alabama native averages 299 yards passing per game to rank eighth nationally while completing 66 percent of his 268 pass attempts with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Sophomore running back DK Billingsly (5-11, 207): He averages 5.3 yards per carry with 533 yards on 100 carries and seven touchdowns on the season.
Sophomore linebacker Carlton Martial (5-10, 216): He averages 1.9 tackes for loss per game to rank fifth nationally and his 4.5 tackles for loss against Southern Miss tied DeMarcus Ware and Kenny Manior for the school record.
He said it
“I love the way our kids compete. We’re playing extremely hard, we’re just not playing as well as we can in some places. We’ve got to continue to work and we’re about to play a much-improved Coastal Carolina team that presents a lot of problems offensively, giving you a lot of different looks in the option game and the shotgun, and defensively a really active odd-front defense.” – Troy head coach Chip Lindsey
““I would say it’s not frustration, but we’re a little angry over how we’ve been playing so far. But we’ve been cleaning some stuff up and hopefully we change some stuff that helps us this week. . . . We can be frustrated all we want but it’s our fault. We haven’t been executing to the best of our abilities in certain aspects. And as coach said we have had too many penalties, we haven’t been disciplined enough. It all falls on us as the players.” – CCU junior offensive lineman Trey Carter
“We’ve got to eliminate penalties and we’ve got to do a better job on first down. When we’ve run the ball well and had success moving the ball we’ve done really good on first down. We’ve been in second and mediums and second and shorts. When we’ve struggled we’ve been in a lot of second and third and longs. We have to win first down and we have to eliminate stupid penalties. We’ve had too many foolish, stupid penalties – false starts, not line up right, etc., etc.” – CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell
Troy’s six Sun Belt championships are tied for the most in the conference, and the Trojans entered the season having won 14 of their past 16 league games.
First-year Troy coach Chip Lindsey, 44, replaced Neal Brown, who took the West Virginia head coaching job after leading Troy to one Sun Belt title and three bowl victories in four seasons. Lindsey is an offensive mind who has been the offensive coordinator at Auburn, Arizona State and Southern Mississippi, and was going to be Les Miles’ offensive coordinator at Kansas this season, but he took the Troy job in January, about a month after accepting the Jayhawks’ position.
Troy has easily handled the Chants in their two meetings as Sun Belt foes, winning 42-17 and 45-21, but the Trojans aren’t used to being 1-2 in the conference.
“They are down, but they still have some good players,” Chadwell said. “They’re going through a change of coach and they’re trying to mix and match, they’ve had some injuries as well. I think they still play hard. . . . We’ve not really played them close per se in the last couple years. We’ve hung in there early and they’ve pulled away from us.
“I like our chances to win the game but we’ve got to go play well in all three phases. If they play well in all three phases it will be a good game.”
Troy has scored at least 33 points in every game with the exception of a 42-10 loss to Missouri. The problem is the Trojans have allowed at least 42 points in each of their four losses. Georgia State defeated Troy 52-33 last week behind its school-record 390 rushing yards. Troy had been tough against the run entering the game and still rank 39th in the conference with 135.7 yards rushing allowed per game.
The Trojans have dealt with injuries on defense, starting 19 different players on that side of the ball including seven underclassmen. “We’ve been much maligned with some injuries, some other issues. So we’re playing some young players on that side of the ball and it’s showing up in these games,” Lindsey said. “At the same time these guys are going to be good players down the road and we’re going to keep coaching them and trying to make them improve.”
The Chants are trying to snap a seven-game losing streak in Sun Belt play, which surpasses the team’s previous long of six 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. The Chants have lost three straight.
Coastal is scoring 32.6 points per game but has been limited to 31 combined points in regulation in their past two games against Georgia State and Ga. Southern. Sophomore Bryce Carpenter will get his second straight start with Fred Payton questionable with an apparent shoulder injury, though Chadwell hopes to have Payton available to play as well.
▪ Coastal has the top defense in the Sun Belt in terms of the fewest yards allowed per game at 325.6.
▪ Troy has returned its opening kickoff for a touchdown in both meetings with CCU, and Trojans returner Reggie Todd is ranked third nationally with a 32.8-yard kickoff return average this season, including two returns of 60-plus yards.
▪ Coastal converts third downs at a 38 percent clip, while Troy has converted 51 percent of its third downs.
▪ Troy has recorded at least 500 yards of offense in four games, including last week when it registered its longest run (53 yards), pass (64 yards) and kickoff return (79 yards) of the season.
▪ Troy is 1-6 on the season on the game’s opening coin toss, winning only against South Alabama.
Troy 33, Coastal Carolina 30: The game should come down to the final minutes. Will Coastal be able to make a late play to pull out a win.