Johnny’s Surprise of the Week: the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Photo via Ian Livingston Brooking

A four-year rewind of the clock will make any Coastal Carolina Chanticleers fan rejoice. After punching their ticket to their first ever College World Series, the baseball team donning the teal and black claimed their first-ever national title after defeating the Arizona Wildcats, 4-3, on June 30, 2016. 

Despite facing bigger blue-chip talent and dodging elimination time and time again, Coastal Carolina prevailed and prospered. 

This prosperity, four years later, has found its way to the infamous “Teal Turf” of Brooks Stadium, where the Chanticleers’ football team has made a name for itself in reminiscence to its fabled baseball club. 

The first installment of the College Football Playoff Rankings should immediately give away the sheer success the Chanticleers have illuminated on the gridiron this season. A ranking of #20 in the first 2020 installment, while lower than other Group of Five powers, should definitely make Chanticleers’ fans lick their chops. If this is not enough, maybe their 8-0 record does. After all, the 8-0 start is tied for their best start in a football season since the 2013 and 2014 seasons when the program was part of the FCS. If this is still not enough, well, keep this in mind – the 8-0 start is the best start for a Sun Belt football team in conference history.

So, how did the Chants get there? Glad you asked. 

Since their 2017 debut season in the FBS, Coastal Carolina has improved year in and year out. A 3-9 record in 2017 to an undefeated record in 2020 would certainly prove it, but so would their offensive and defensive totals. After averaging 23.7, 26.7 and 30.3 points per game for the 2017-19 seasons, respectively, the 2020 Chanticleers are currently averaging 37.4 points per game, which ranks 25th out of 127 FBS teams that have played a game. This would not be possible without a balanced offensive attack, as the Chants are averaging 199.0 rushing yards and 233.9 passing yards per game. Four players have at least 250 rushing yards (Torrance Marable with 435, Grayson McCall with 340, Reese White with 330 and Shermari Jones with 279), while five players have at least 150 receiving yards (Jaivon Heiligh with 647, Isaiah Likely with 350, Samuel Denmark with 252, Kameron Brown with 219 and Marable with 163). The leader of the offense is no one other than their redshirt freshman quarterback in McCall, who has 1,593 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and only one interception. 

The defensive side shows a similar improvement. After yielding 34.0, 33.2 and 30.5 points per game over the same span, the Chants are currently allowing 17.1 points per game, which ranks 12th out of 127 teams. Preventing scores is not the only success on defensive side, however, as the team is aggressive in preventing any opposing offense from getting rhythm. Seven players have at least one sack (C.J. Brewer, Tarron Jackson, Jeffrey Gunter, Silas Kelly, Enock Makonzo, Jarrod Clark and Myles Olufemi), while three players have at least five (Brewer has 6.5, Jackson has 6.0 and Gunter has 5.5). Cornerback D’Jordan Strong leads the team in the interception department, as the former JUCO recruit currently has five of the team’s 11 picks. 

Balance and aggression have been the name of the game for the 2020 Chants. This balance has led to big-time victories against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns and the Appalachian State Mountaineers, who have been two Sun Belt power staples for years. While both teams will remain in the Sun Belt mix, the Chanticleers have pushed their way into the conversation as well. An 8-0 record will do that. 

While Coastal Carolina’s 2020 success on the football field is not completely identical to their 2016 College World Series victory on the diamond, the program is turning a new leaf and taking a new step in the process. 

Most importantly, they are prospering. 

Published by John Crane

I am originally from Alexandria, Louisiana, but have lived in South Carolina, Texas, Arizona and now Colorado. After recently graduating from Northern Arizona University, I am now continuing to sharpen my journalistic craft through writing, radio and podcasting. My dream is to become a sports reporter or broadcaster.

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