2020 Game 5 Preview: Coastal Carolina

2020 Game 5 Preview: Coastal Carolina

Destin Coates receives praise from teammates at the conclusion of the 2019 contest versus Arkansas State.

RB Destin Coates surrounded by his offensive line following a score in Georgia State’s 2019 win over Arkansas State. Coates’ 126 rushing yards per game leads the Sun Belt Conference in 2020. Photo: Jordan Crawford for THERSdayNight.com

The Georgia State Panthers (2-2, 1-2 in Sun Belt) will look for their second win in a row when the No. 20 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (5-0, 3-0 in Sun Belt) come to town this afternoon. The Panthers are coming off their first conference win of the season, having defeated the Troy Trojans 36-34 a week ago. The Chanticleers extended their season-opening win streak to 5 games last week with a 28-14 win over the Georgia Southern Eagles. The Chanticleers are the second ranked team the Panthers have hosted this season at Center Parc Stadium – after Louisiana in the opening game – and will roll into Atlanta looking to maintain their perfect season and conference records.

Coastal Carolina has been the darling of college football so far in the 2020 season, and that success begins with third-year head coach Jamey Chadwell. Chadwell should be an early candidate for Sun Belt Coach of the Year. Beginning the year with a hefty 38-23 road win over Big 12 opponent Kansas, their 5-0 start has the Chants at the top of the Sun Belt East standings after being picked last in the preseason poll. Chadwell has already matched his win total from the 2019 season, thanks to a high-flying Chanticleer offense and an incredibly stout defense to match. The Chanticleers rank second in the Sun Belt in offensive points per game – scoring 38 points a contest – and have allowed 21 per game, which is good for third-fewest allowed in the Sun Belt. This Georgia State team certainly has their work cut out for them.

Although he missed last week’s win over Georgia Southern due to injury, redshirt freshman QB Grayson McCall is expected to return this week and start for the Chanticleers. McCall has all the makings of a star in this league, completing 68% of his passes with 930 passing yards and 11 passing touchdowns through 4 games. Add in his 184 rushing yards as well as 3 rushing touchdowns, and it is clear what is powering this Chants offense. To make matters worse for defenses, senior RB CJ Marable is back to his versatile self, compiling 282 yards on the ground along with 104 receiving yards. Marable leads a running back room that averages a hair under 200 yards on the ground game. With reliable pass-catching options like junior WR Jaivon Heiligh and junior TE Isaiah Likely, the Chanticleers have no shortage of weapons to attack teams.

Defensively, the Chanticleers use a strong front seven to attack teams and get pressure on the opposing quarterback. The three-headed monster of Jeffrey Gunter, C.J. Brewer, and Silas Kelly have each compiled at least 3 sacks and lead a Coastal front seven that has dished out 17 sacks through 5 games. For the quarterbacks that do remain on their feet through a progression, D’Jordan Strong has been a problem – he’s tied for the Sun Belt lead in interceptions at 3. With four other Chanticleers pulling down picks, it should not come as a surprise that this defense leads the league in turnover margin.

 For Georgia State, the game plan should remain relatively simple – find ways to get the Chanticleer offense off the field and keep Quad Brown upright and confident. After a great opening series last week, Brown struggled through most of the remainder of the game. The Panthers offensive line has only allowed 3 sacks total this year, so finding ways to keep Brown on his feet will be important. The Panthers are one of the top rushing offenses in the league in their own right, so the Chanticleers should be expecting the usual rotation of Destin Coates, Tucker Gregg and Jam Williams coming right at them early and often. If the Georgia State backs get things working behind the offensive line, it could do wonders to keep the ball out of the Chanticleers’ hands. 

The keep-away strategy is crucial for the Panthers defense, as it would minimize the Chanticleers’ offensive opportunities and potential for points. Coastal’s offense has converted 55% of their third downs so far this season, and a big part of that has been their running game executing in short down and distances. Georgia State has been excellent at defending the run and has only allowed a 29% third down conversion rate, so something has to give.

Kickoff at Center Parc Stadium is today at noon, or you can catch the Panthers host the Chanticleers on ESPNU.

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