The Georgia Southern Eagles improved to 3-1 on the season with a 41-0 victory over UMass last Saturday at Paulson Stadium. This Saturday the Eagles will be looking to build on the Umass win as they get back to Sun Belt play on the road at Conway S.C. for a matchup with No. 25 ranked 4-0 Coastal Carolina.
“I think our guys did a great job last week, especially considering the change from playing Appalachian State Wednesday to playing UMass Saturday,” said Coach Chad Lunsford. “I thought our guys played really well, but we still have some things we need to get better at. I did feel like as a team we played well.”
The Eagles will be playing their second straight SunBelt game against a team ranked in the top 25. Southern opened Sun Belt play at then No. 25 ranked Louisiana where they lost 20-18 on a last second field goal.
“If I have to get them amped up for the game this week, then we probably have issues,” said Lunsford. “Our guys should be excited about playing this one. Playing a top 25 ranked team should excite us.”
The Eagles lead the all-time series 5-1. Last year the two teams played a low scoring contest in regulation. The Chanticleers sent the game into overtime tied at 10-10 with a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Things got wild in the three overtimes to come, with the Eagles eventually holding Coastal to a field goal, and then scoring a Wesley Kennedy touchdown for the final margin of victory at 30-27.
“I believe Coastal Carolina feels like they should have won the game last year,” said Lunsford. “I am sure there is a huge chip on their shoulders, and they want to prove something to us.”
The Chanticleers come in with a pair of impressive wins on their resume having beaten Kansas 38-23 on the road, and then No. 23 ranked Louisiana 30-27. They also beat Arkansas State 52-23. They are averaging over 40 points per game and giving up just over 23 per contest.
“From what I have seen they do their jobs pretty well, and are tough,” said Eagle receiver Malik Murray. “Last year is in the past. We won the game and it felt good, but this is a different team, and we are going to have our hands full.”
The high-powered Chanticleer offense is paced by quarterback Grayson McCall who has thrown for 930 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. A balanced rushing attack is led by senior C.J. Marable with 276 yards rushing and four touchdowns, while McCall comes in with 207 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“You really have to respect their run game,” said Eagle linebacker Zyon McGee. “They throw the ball a lot, and that can make you forget about their running game, but they have a lot of weapons.We really have to come out and shut down the run if we are going to be successful.”
The Chanticleers were only 5-7 a year ago, but five of their losses were by less than a touchdown. This year Coastal has really picked things up in their second full season under head coach Jamey Chadwell. Chadwell was a finalist for the Georgia Southern head coaching job that ended up going to Tyson Summers. A two-time finalist for the Eddie Robinson award while at Charleston Southern, Chadwell took over as Coastal Carolina’s offensive coordinator in 2017 He was named interim head coach in 2018, and then was officially named head coach prior to last season.
“Coastal Carolina is a disciplined, well coached football team,” said Lunsford. “They have really grown together as a football team, so you are going to have two teams trying to battle and do the exact same things , and that’s what makes these games interesting.”
The Eagles and Coastal Carolina are set for a noon kick-off Saturday in Conway South Carolina.