Game Time: 6:30 PM EST, Saturday, September, 23rd, 2017
Location: Brooks Stadium, Conway, South Carolina
Radio: Chanticleer Sports Network
Previous Meeting: Coastal Carolina topped WIU 34-27 in 2015
Series Record: Series is tied 1-1
After taking a tough loss to UAB last Saturday in Birmingham, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers return home to the comforts of Brooks Stadium to do battle with the Leathernecks of Western Illinois. WIU hails from the Missouri Valley Football Conference (AKA the North Dakota State conference) in the FCS ranks. WIU has one of the best names in college football in the Leathernecks and they can sure score the football.
WIU comes in with a 2-0 record after beating Tennessee Tech 41-14 in week 1 followed by a 38-20 victory over Northern Arizona in week 2. The Leathernecks come into Conway averaging 39.5 points per game. WIU is also averaging 180 yards per game through the air and adding an average of 252.5 yards per game on the ground. The Leathernecks have been able to gain first downs as in their two games played they have garnered 46 first downs total.
The key to beating Western Illinois is to have success in the trenches. The Leathernecks have a great front seven and are allowing just 1.2 yards per carry this season. They did a much better job of stopping Northern Arizona’s offense than Arizona did, and have had a bye week in order to get ready for the Chanticleers. The switch to a 3-4 defense this offseason has really helped as star linebacker Brett Taylor has looked even better in the new scheme.
However, quarterback Sean McGuire has not developed like the team has hoped. He has been good this season, but the team still has to rely on the running game in order to give him room in the passing attack. Thankfully, the offensive line has been able to open holes against both opponents this year, giving their backs ample room to run.
Coastal Carolina will be looking to bounce back after the 30-23 loss to UAB. Starting QB Tyler Keane threw 3 int’s and Coastal was never able to get the offense going. Abercombie was held to just 75 yards rushing although he was able to find pay-dirt twice to give CCU a little bit of confidence. Keane only had 75 yards passing and the rough day by him allowed senior Dalton Demos to get a few snaps under center, although he did not fair much better only going 2/7 for 25 yards.
Coastal Carolina can ill afford to lose this game against the Leathernecks. Over the next couple weeks the Chants have a good chance to pick up some big wins over ULM and Georgia State. Coastal can not be caught looking ahead.
The Chants can’t turn the ball over because if they give the Leathernecks extra possessions we could be looking at another FCS over FBS upset in 2017.
Osharmar Abercombie will find the endzone a couple times as Coastal will continue to lean heavy on the rushing attack as QB play continues to develop. WIU will keep it close at halftime and maybe even into the 3rd, but I believe Coastal will pull slightly away late in this one.