No. 15 Coastal Carolina must lean on what's gone right to handle a quick turnaround.
This season, that has been just about everything.
The Chanticleers (5-0, 1-0 Sun Belt) play at Arkansas State (1-4, 0-1) on Thursday night.
The Chants lead the league in most points scored and fewest allowed. Their pass defense is the only team in the FBS that hasn't allowed a touchdown catch while quarterback Grayson McCall is tops in the subdivision in completion percentage at 80.6 percent.
“You've got to do what you do well,” Chadwell said.
Coastal Carolina has excelled in all areas in getting out to its second straight 5-0 start. The team went 11-0 a year ago before dropping its bowl game to Liberty, then picked up where it left off this season.
The Chanticleers have won 17 of their past 18 games, rolling over four of their five opponents this season including Kansas of the Big 12 Conference, 49-22.
The one tight game came on the road at Buffalo with Coastal holding on for a 28-25 win. The Chanticleers have won their four home games by a combined average score of 56-11.
McCall's been the focal point in his second season as starter. The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Indian Trail, North Carolina, has thrown for 1,113 yards and 10 touchdowns against just one interception. And he's sat out most second halves this season with Coastal Carolina ahead by very large margins.
“Grayson, he's a great leader," offensive lineman Willie Lampkin said. “I feel like he makes us all better.”
Arkansas State might be one of the few Sun Belt teams with the firepower to potentially keep up with the Chanticleers.
The Red Wolves, led by Florida State transfer quarterback James Blackman, have scored 33 or more points in four of their five games so far. They lost their first league game to Georgia Southern last week, 59-33.
First-year coach Butch Jones said it will take time to rebuild Arkansas State. He was heartened by his team's willingness to work hard in practice to prepare for Coastal Carolina.
“It was invigorating,” he said. “They want to win.”
Some other things to look for when No. 15 Coastal Carolina plays at Arkansas State:
Coastal Carolina has been almost as successful on the road as it has been at home during this two-year run of winning. The Chants have won their last six on the road in the regular season, dating back to Nov. 2019.
This will mark the second straight week the Chanticleers will face a team led by a former Southeastern Conference head coach. Coastal Carolina throttled Louisiana Monroe and its first-year coach Terry Bowden 59-6 to start Sun Belt play. Next up is Jones, the former Tennessee coach in his first season with the Red Wolves. Coastal coach Jamey Chadwell said Jones is a skilled, experienced leader.
“We know we're not going to outscheme him so we're going to have to have great execution,” Chadwell said.
Coastal Carolina finally got its first interception of the season when junior cornerback Lance Boykin got one against Louisiana Monroe. Boykin is part of a secondary that has played strongly this season, allowing just 130 yards a game. The defense has also not allowed a passing TD this season. Said Boykin: “It was a great feeling to go out there and get a takeaway."
Butch Jones hopes to turn Arkansas State into a family. He's off to a good start with son, Adam, transferring in from Central Michigan to play receiver for the Red Wolves. Jones' oldest son, Alex, is has a quality control position on offense for Arkansas State. Jones' youngest son, Andrew, is a member of the freshman football team at Valley View High in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Coastal Carolina expects to get a couple of injured starters back against Arkansas State. Tailback Shermari Jones has missed the past two games due to injury after reaching 100 yards on the ground in two of the team's first three games. Place kicker Massimo Biscardi has also missed the past two games with a lower-body injury. Both will play against the Red Wolves, Chants coach Chadwell said.
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