Getting to know: Coastal Carolina football
In a sense, it is like another opener for the Kansas football team.
Last week, Kansas completed a comeback drive in the fourth quarter to earn a 24-17 win over Indiana State. It ensured that Game 1 of the Les Miles era got off on the right foot, something that the previous tenure was unable to do.
But now sophomore running back Pooka Williams Jr. is back after serving his one-game suspension. Williams will be the best player on the football field at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, when KU plays host to Coastal Carolina at 6 p.m. Saturday night.
With Williams returning, Kansas fans can get more of an accurate view of what the 2019 team will look like under Miles.
Based on Miles’ track record of running the ball at LSU and Oklahoma State, it would seem that this could be a perfect marriage. Last season, Williams ran for 1,125 yards and seven scores on 161 carries. He also added 289 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 33 catches.
It will be interesting to see if KU leans on Williams this weekend in what should be another winnable game. Coastal Carolina is coming off a 30-23 loss to Eastern Michigan. According to SP+, created by Bill Connelly of ESPN, Kansas is projected to win by six points. The model gives the Jayahwks a 64% chance of winning in Week 2.
With a win, the Jayhawks would begin the year 2-0 for the first time since 2011 and the eighth time since 2000. The Chanticleers, meanwhile, have lost five games in a row dating back to last season.
BREAKING DOWN COASTAL CAROLINA:
Quarterback — Fred Payton won the starting quarterback competition to begin the 2019 season. Against Eastern Michigan, he completed 29 of 43 passes for 304 yards to go along with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Payton was also involved in some RPO action, carrying the ball six times for 22 yards last weekend.
Running backs — Week 1 was CJ Marable’s first chance in a featured role for the Chanticleers. He ran the ball for a team-high 18 times against Eastern Michigan, finishing with 49 yards. He also caught seven passes for 84 yards and a score. Last season, Marable ran for 719 yards and six scores on 118 attempts as a sophomore.
Receivers — Coastal Carolina lost its top wideout from last year, and a young group will be led by fifth-year senior Ky’Jon Tyler. The former walk-on was second on the team in receptions (26), yards (397), average yards per catch (15.3) and touchdowns (2) a year ago. Last week, eight different Chants caught at least one pass in the loss.
Offensive line — The is by far the most-experienced group for the Chants on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line has a combined 91 career starts and is led by returning starters Ethan Howard, Trey Carter and Steven Bedosky who all started in every game last season.
Defensive line — Much like the offense, Coastal Carolina’s oldest group is up front on the defensive side of the ball. The players on the defensive line have played a total of 108 collegiate games. Tarron Jackson (25), Jalin Walker (23) and C.J. Brewer (22) all have at least 20 games under their belt entering this weekend.
Linebackers — Silas Kelly, Teddy Gallagher, Myles Olufemi, and Cincir Evans will handle things in the middle of this Coastal Carolina defense. Evans, a redshirt freshman, is the only underclassmen listed as a starting linebacker. Chad Staggs is in charge of this group, but was also promoted to defensive coordinator in July. It marks the third consecutive season that the Chanticleers have a new DC.
Secondary — This is the youngest group on the defense, and it showed in the season opener. The secondary only has two returning starters in redshirt senior Mallory Claybourne and sophomore Derrick Bush. The rest of the unit has nine newcomers. Eastern Michigan completed 91% percent of its passes against this group last weekend.
SPECIAL TEAMS — One of the bright spots for Coastal Carolina in the season opener was sophomore kicker Massimo Biscardi, who was named Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week. He made three field goals, including a 53-yard field goal, and has now scored in 13 consecutive games. The 53-yard field goal matched a team record.
FUN FACT — Coastal’s 2019 roster features a total of 66 combined freshmen and redshirt freshmen, making up almost 53 percent of its entire roster.
VEGAS SAYS… This has been the exact opposite of last week, when the line continued to move in KU’s favor as it got closer to kickoff. After opening as a 10-point spread, Kansas is now favored by just seven points over Coastal Carolina as of Friday afternoon.
When the line was double digits, I initially thought about taking the Chanticleers. But then I actually watched their Week 1 loss to Eastern Michigan. With the return of Pooka, I have a hard time believing the Jayhawks will need late-game magic this week.
Prediction: Kansas 31, Coastal Carolina 17
This year’s record ATS: 1-0
Last year’s record ATS: 7-4