#21 Coastal Carolina Football 2021 Preview

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Overall Rank: #21
#2 Sun Belt
 Coastal Carolina Logo
Coastal Carolina had a huge 2020 season. They went 11-0 during the regular season before falling to Liberty in overtime in the Cure Bowl. Coach Jamey Chadwell has the talent and experience for another conference title and a shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl as the top Group of Five team. 
2020 Record: 11-1, 8-0
2020 Bowl: Cure Bowl vs. Liberty (L 34-37)
Coach: Jamey Chadwell (19-17 at Coastal Carolina, 79-52 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Newland Isaac, Willy Korn
Defensive Coordinator: Chad Staggs
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Grayson McCall, QB, 569 yards
Passing: Grayson McCall, QB, 2,488 yards
Receiving: Jaivon Heiligh, WR, 998 yards
Tackles: Silas Kelly, LB, 80  
Sacks: C.J. Brewer, DT, 6.5; Jeffrey Gunter, LB, 6.5
Interceptions: D’Jordan Strong, CB, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Reese White, RB Shermari Jones, TE Isaiah Likely, WR Kameron Brown, OL Trey Carter, OL Willie Lampkin, LB Enock Makonzo, LB Teddy Gallagher, S Alex Spillum, CB Derick Bush, K Massimo Biscardi
Key Losses: RB CJ Marable, DL Tarron Jackson
Quarterback Grayson McCall will again run the triple option spread offense. He stepped into the starting job as a redshirt freshman and threw for 2,488 yards and 26 touchdowns with just three interceptions. McCall also rushed for 569 yards and seven more trips to the end zone. Jaivon Heiligh was McCall’s favorite target in 2020 and caught an impressive 65 passes for 998 yards and ten touchdowns. Isaiah Likely is a great tight end who caught 30 passes for 601 yards and five scores. Losing running back CJ Marable hurts, but a strong and experienced offensive line should lead to big seasons for Reese White and Shermari Jones. Despite Marable and McCall taking a lot of carries, White and Jones combined to rush for 876 yards and nine touchdowns.
The defense returns ten starters to a unit that allowed just 20.2 points per game last year. The one starter not returning though is reigning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year Tarron Jackson. The sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft led the Chanticleers with 8.5 sacks and 14.0 tackles-for-loss. Defensive tackle C.J. Brewer and linebacker Jeffrey Gunter are proven pass rushers who will spend plenty of time in the backfield. Linebacker Silas Kelly led the team with 80 tackles and will again be joined by Enock Makonzo and Teddy Gallagher to form a talented group of linebackers. D’Jordan Strong had a superb season in 2020, intercepting five passes. Alex Spillum is also back after tallying four interceptions. Once again, the defense should make plenty of big plays and dominate most of the opposing Sun Belt offenses. 
The Bottom Line:
This could be a huge year for the Sun Belt. There are some very good teams in the conference and Coastal Carolina is right there among them. The Chanticleers biggest conference game, in the regular season at least, comes on October 20th with a trip to Appalachian State. That game could decide the East. If Coastal Carolina can manage to win the East, they will likely face Louisiana in the Sun Belt Championship game and the winner of that game has a great shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl.
Projected Bowl:  New Orleans Bowl
2020 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 218.3 (15th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 231.5 (60, 6)
Total Offense: 449.8 (25, 3)
Scoring Offense: 37.2 (18, 1)
Rushing Defense: 147.7 (47, 3)
Pass Defense: 204.2 (32, 3)
Total Defense: 351.9 (31, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.2 (19, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.08 (9, 1)
Sacks: 2.83 (24, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.17 (10, 2)