CCU UMASS 09 ILB

Coastal Carolina defeated UMass 53-3 Saturday afternoon to improve to 4-0 on the year. The Chants start conference play next week against Louisiana-Monroe at Brooks Stadium. Photo by Ian Livingston Brooking.

Coastal Carolina improved 4-0 on the year with a 53-3 throttling of UMass last week. The Chants look to make it 11 straight wins at home when the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks come to town.

“We got a good team coming in here coming off a huge win,” Coastal head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Chanticleers breezed through their non-conference schedule for the second straight year, but now the all-important Sun Belt Conference games begin.

“Now our real season kicks off,” Chadwell said.

Here are five things you need to know before kickoff on Saturday.

1. THE OPPONENT

After losing their last 12 games dating back to the 2019 season, the Warhawks have now won back-to-back games with wins over Jackson State and Sun Belt foe Troy. It’s the first time the Warhawks have won back-to-back games since 2018.

The Warhawks come into Conway Saturday holding a 3-0 record over the Chants. It’s something senior offensive lineman Steven Bedosky would like to see change on Saturday.

“ULM is the only team in the Sun Belt that we haven’t had a win against,” Bedosky said. “We’re definitely aiming for that.”

It will be a battle of one of the most prolific offenses in the country against an offense that has struggled despite being 2-1. ULM averages 209 yards per game, which is last in the conference and second-to-last in the country. The Chanticleers offense has averaged over 500 yards a game this season, the best in the Sun Belt and one of the Top 15 offenses in the country.

The Chanticleers might see the Warhawks’ backup quarterback Chandler Rogers more this weekend, but Chadwell said the team is ready for whatever is thrown their way.

“[Chandler] has been playing every game,” Chadwell said. “They might do a little bit more with him from a run standpoint than Rhett [Rodriguez]. Rhett is more of the better passer. We anticipate that maybe there will be more true quarterback run calls and we’ll have to be prepared.”

Rogers is second on the team in rushing, going for 59 yards, while also throwing for 57 yards this season. Rodriguez on the other hand has thrown for 337 yards this year on 35 of 62 passing for one touchdown.

Finding the end zone is something that hasn’t come easily for the Warhawks. ULM has only four total touchdowns this season. Three Chanticleers – Jaivon Heiligh, Reese White and Grayson McCall – have all reached four touchdowns or more this season alone.

While the Chants are finding the end zone this year, they now face a defense that has only allowed two rushing touchdowns this season.

“They do a lot of different things,” Chadwell said. “They have a lot of different looks, fronts and coverages. They do it well. They play hard and they don’t miss a lot of tackles. They’re not beating themselves and they’re going to make you beat them. The challenge is not putting yourself in a position where they can make you look bad.”

The Chants defense, despite not yet forcing a turnover, has not allowed a single passing touchdown this season, something that Chadwell praised during Wednesday’s news conference.

“Hopefully we can go the whole year with that,” Chadwell said. “It shows that we’ve recruited and brought some help with our guys and create competition with guys who can go out there and compete each week. When you’re doing that, you’re also getting a good rush and getting to the pocket and so I think our guys are doing a good job of not giving up big plays.”

2. INJURY REPORT

One of the most notable players missing from last week’s win against UMass was senior running back Shermari Jones. Following the Buffalo game on Sept. 18, Jones admitted that he had been dealing with turf toe. Despite the setback, Jones was still able to go for 145 yards and a touchdown in the 28-25 win in New York.

Also missing from that Buffalo game and last week was kicker Massimo Biscardi, who was out with a lower body injury.

Chadwell had no update on Jones and Biscardi and their status for Saturday.

During the Buffalo game, backup kicker Liam Gray was called into action but missed a field goal. Gray stayed in the game and went on to make all four extra points. However, after missing the first extra point in the UMass game last Saturday, Gray was replaced by Kieran Colahan. Both Colahan and Gray shared extra point duties in the UMass game, but it was Colahan that trotted out and made a 38-yard field goal.

Should Biscardi be out for Saturday against the Warhawks, it will be Colahan taking the kicking duties for the Chants.

“Just because he went out there and made it in the game last week,” Chadwell said. “We had a little field goal kicking [Tuesday] and we’ll have another one today just to see where everyone is at. The main thing is that we’re not asking those guys to make 50-yarders or be Justin Tucker [who set an NFL record with a 66-yarder on Sunday]. We just want the extra point and a 30-yard field goal.”

3. BACK TO WEEKDAY GAMES

Following Saturday’s game, it will be back to “abnormal” for Coastal football as the ULM game will be the last Saturday game until the Chants travel to take on Georgia Southern on Nov. 6.

“It’s definitely been nice getting some normalcy back in our life,” the offensive lineman Bedosky said. “The weeks are normal, you can kind of plan it accordingly. I will say it’s been fun, but I am looking forward to the weekday games.”

Bedosky said that during a Friday night game at home against Kansas on Sept. 10, he felt that he was back in high school.

“Running out with the lights on? It was like Friday Night Lights,” Bedosky said.

The next three games will be on weekdays, starting with a quick turnaround on the road at Arkansas State on Thursday, Oct. 7, before taking a few extra days ahead a major road matchup at Appalachian State on Wednesday, Oct. 20, before returning home for another Thursday night game against Troy on Oct. 28.

“You try to get yourself prepared for it,” Chadwell said. “We try to make sure, at least for our players, we try a common off day as much as we can. Sometimes that’s forced where you can’t do that, but you try to keep them in as much routine and as much rhythm as possible.”

Despite the challenges that may come with scheduling practices and having those off days, Chadwell said there are benefits to weekday games.

“After this week, it’s three straight weeks and it’s three straight national television opportunities,” Chadwell said. “It will be a change obviously for our players from that standpoint, but it’s one where we’ll figure it out.”

4. THE RANKINGS

After dropping a spot in the rankings following the Buffalo game, the Chants returned to the No. 16 slot in the AP poll with their 50-point drubbing of UMass. With Clemson dropping out of the Top 10 for the first time since Oct. 3, 2015, it makes Coastal Carolina the highest ranked team in the state.

There are several matchups that football fans, including CCU fans, will have their eye on. No. 1 Alabama hosts No. 12 Ole Miss. The 14th-ranked Michigan Wolverines travel to Camp Randall to take on Wisconsin. The No. 10 Florida Gators travel to Kentucky. But one of the biggest games is No. 7 Cincinnati traveling to South Bend, Indiana, to take on the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

Should Coastal take care of business Saturday and one of those ranked teams slip, the Chants might slide their way into the Top 15 and possibly the Top 10.

But that isn’t something Chadwell and his team are focused on.

“I’ve not even given any thought to it,” Chadwell said. “We’re so consumed with what we’re doing.”

Chadwell added that the rankings are out of their control.

“We saw that last year, right?” Chadwell said. “I think last year I would’ve been, but after going through what we did last year, I don’t know if it even matters that much what happens. If our team can focus on what we got to do and we can put ourselves in a situation, then we will see what happens down the line.”

5. HIGH SCORING AFFAIR

When the Chants and the Warhawks meet up, always take the over. The last three matchups have seen 246 points, with six 50-plus yard touchdown runs, receptions or returns. The Warhawks have scored 45 points or more in each of their matchups with CCU, all of which have been wins.

Chadwell expects round four to be “in the middle” when it comes to points.

“We’re good on defense and they’re good on defense,” Chadwell said. “We’re good on offense and they’ve done a good job on offense. Hopefully, we’re high scoring and they’re low scoring. That would be ideal. We expect a good football game.”

Chadwell knows the Warhawks are going to give the Chanticleers they’re best shot and that’s something he has been preparing his team for.

“It’s the team that makes the of their opportunities and doesn’t turn it over that’s going to win the game,” Chadwell said. “[Saturday] is a chance for us to go 1-0 in our league and go out and win this championship that we are playing for this week. Our focus has been on what we got to do to play on a high level.”

While the previous games have been high scoring affairs, the most points scored by the Warhawks this season (29) is one point more than the lowest amount of points the Chants have scored this year (28). ULM averages 17 points per game while CCU averages 45.5 points per game.

The Chanticleers and the Warhawks will battle it out at Brooks Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN+.

Reach Ian Livingston Brooking at 843-248-6882 for any story ideas or news happening in your area.

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