Coastal Carolina University had nothing short of an embarrassing performance at Brooks Stadium on Saturday.
The Chanticleers fell to the Leathernecks of Western Illinois University 52-10, giving up 45 straight points in the final three quarters.
Coastal Carolina officials touted their new FBS status at the beginning of the season, but Saturday’s game showed the program still has a long way to go.
Things didn’t start out as terrible as they ended up. Coastal began the game keeping up with Western Illinois, scoring a touchdown and field goal before the half and trailing the Leathernecks by four at halftime.
The night turned ugly for the Chanticleers in the third quarter as Coastal lost its poise.
“It seemed like once they got ahead, there we lost our will to compete a little bit,”interim head coach Jamey Chadwell said. “The mission that we have is to give 100 percent effort and put a team out there that Coastal can be proud of. We didn’t do that tonight. That’s what’s disappointing more than anything, so that’s the thing we have to get corrected.”
The team’s performance frustrated fans who have enjoyed watching several seasons of success on the field.
“We’ve had season tickets for years and this year’s tickets cost a lot more than in the past and this was just an embarrassment,” said Bob Kirkman, a longtime Coastal fan. “You could tell the team gave up. You’ve got this huge addition to the stadium and all these people watching and we couldn’t even pick a quarterback, much less score a touchdown. This is the first time I’ve been disappointed when rooting for Coastal for anything. I don’t know if it is the different coach, the kids or what, but how they played, how this whole FBS thing is going, if these boys think that they are too good to put effort on the field for a game like tonight, I hate to see what happens when they have to face an actual good team.”
Kirkman isn’t alone. Many longtime, local Coastal fans were not happy with the Chanticleers losing to Western Illinois.
“I cheer for Coastal whether they win or lose, but their attitude tonight, they gave up and it was obvious,” Coastal supporter Susan Roberts said. “If they want me or anyone else to pay higher ticket prices, go through more trouble trying to find parking and harsher security to see a game than I do to see Clemson or Carolina, I want to see a team on the field that tries to win. I don’t blame students and others for leaving early. They gave up plain and simple. This kind of thing isn’t just with the kids. It starts at the top and goes down. If they want to get people to fill all these empty seats, they need to start putting in some effort.”
Coastal got itself in more trouble as the night went on, collecting seven penalties totaling over 50 yards. They also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
This is the second game in a row that Coastal has had at least three interceptions. Last week, the team threw four picks.
Coastal also could not keep the ball away from Western Illinois, which had six more minutes of time of possession and twice the amount of passing yards. Coastal posted just 137 passing yards.
Coastal was beaten on every statistical front, including number of first downs, number of third down conversions, even length of punt attempts.
“They took it to us,” Chadwell said.
Although the Chanticleers’ defense was down all night long, the offense has continued to be the problem for Coastal.
Just against Western Illinois, the Chanticleers used four quarterbacks. Since the beginning of the season, Coastal has not played a full game with a single quarterback, leaving fans wondering if one will ever fully claim the job.
“Right now, with what we have going forward, I think Tyler [Keane] still gives us the best chance to at least try to move the ball consistently if we can make some things happen. But tonight, I don’t know if it would have mattered who we had in there. When we dropped back to pass, we struggled with pass protection. We struggled with some basic things. … We’re still a work in progress and I’m trying to make the most of it.”
Interestingly enough, head coach Joe Moglia, who is taking a medical sabbatical this fall, was in attendance Saturday night. Moglia gave no update on his health or if he would be stepping back into his head coaching duties any sooner than anticipated.
Coastal will be hitting the road this week to face Sun Belt Conference opponent Louisiana Monroe. The following week is family weekend at Brooks Stadium, where they hope to draw a crowd big enough to fill the newly expanded bleachers.