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Chadwell, Coastal Carolina Continuing to Build Winning Foundation

By Matthew Golden
SouthernPigskin.com
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In just his second season as head coach at Coastal Carolina, Jamey Chadwell has the foundations of a winning program firmly cemented.

Like much of the college football world, Coastal Carolina has faced its fair share of uncertainty in 2020. While just about two months ago the entire nation was unsure if there would even be college football played this fall, the Chanticleers now find themselves in the midst of a historical season that is far from being over.

With program altering wins against Kansas, Arkansas State, and their most recent opponent in Louisiana, the Chanticleers are 4-0 for the first time ever at the FBS level and are nationally ranked inside the top 25. Not many could have foreseen the success that Coastal Carolina would reach this early in the season, but in the year of 2020, not much of anything that has happened can be considered foreseen.

The Chanticleers kicked their 2020 season off traveling to Lawrence, Kansas in which they toppled the Jayhawks rather easily by a final score of 38-23. To make matters more impressive, they followed their week one performance with back-to-back 20+ point victories, defeating Campbell 43-21 and dominating conference foe Arkansas State 52-23.

A large part of the Chanticleers success in the early portion of this 2020 season is due to the breakout play by redshirt freshman quarterback Grayson McCall. His effect on and off the field has propelled not only the offense but the team as a whole to greater expectations. 

“He’s been even better than advertised. We thought we had a quarterback who had a chance to be a good player and fortunately we saw a bit of that in spring practice. In fall camp he was really able to come into his own. He’s shown us toughness and he’s shown us moxie,” stated Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell.

Through four contests the redshirt freshman signal caller has totaled 930 passing yards, eleven touchdown passes, and has completed just under 70% of passing attempts at 59 for 87. While McCall’s command in the pocket has been a delight to watch thus far, his efforts outside of the pocket and toughness tucking the ball and running with it has at times has given the offense the exact spark it needed.

McCall is currently the second leading rusher on the team, totaling four touchdowns and 184 yards on 42 attempts.

“He hasn’t flinched during tough moments or games so we're obviously proud and happy with what has been able to accomplish up to this point," Chadwell described.

There is plenty more to be proud of up to this point outside of the quarterback play from McCall. Just this past week the Chanticleers were able to march into Louisiana and earn a huge win over a conference opponent, the program’s first ever win over a nationally ranked top 25 opponent at the FBS level.

“It was a big deal….we’ve had only two or three wins in conference play leading up to this year so to start the season 2 for 2 in the conference is a really big deal for us. I think we were also really excited to beat a team that pretty much embarrassed us last year," Chadwell added of the recent win.

Last year’s matchup went very differently than the 2020 version, as the Ragin Cajuns dominated all four quarters, walking away with a 48-7 victory. With a good portion of guys returning, this past weekend’s matchup was definitely one that was circled on the calendar.

Coach Chadwell pointed out that another reason for the Chanticleers' level of success through four games of the 2020 season has been the senior leadership provided on both sides of the ball.

“They’ve been a big reason to why we are where we’re at. Last year we had a pretty up and down year. With these guys, CJ Brewer, Tarron Jackson, Teddy Gallagher, Silas Kelly, Trey Carter, guys that have been in the program since 2016 when we first made the move to the FBS level. They are good players but they’ve helped our locker room stay consistent, they’ve helped our team stay focused on what we need to do, they’ve tried a lot to navigate this team through the pandemic which has added an extra wrinkle to things," he explained. "They have been tremendous for me as a coach in being a part of this culture change and for the staff in being another voice of leadership in the locker room”

This is especially true on the defensive side of the ball as the Chanticleers defensive front is led by senior defensive tackle C.J. Brewer, and senior defensive end Tarron Jackson Sr. The two defensive stalwarts have combined for 35 total tackles and five and a half sacks through just four contests this season. In terms of the sole defensive leader, linebacker Teddy Gallagher has popped off the stat sheet multiple times during the 2020 campaign, leading the Chants with 29 total tackles and seemingly providing an edge that the Coastal Carolina defense has yet to have since rising to the FBS level.

Coach Chadwell had an interesting comment in regard to what he has learned from his squad through four games this season, and what he has been able to take from his past coaching experiences to put things in perspective.

“I believe from my past experiences coaching that I know what a winning culture looks like, I know what it takes to win at a high level," he added. "What I have learned from being at different places is reinforcing what you learn that matters, what has high value. I’ve learned over time there’s always something new, always something shinier, always something sexier but those things that you value and the things that you believe in are the things that last and make an actual impact...from a coaching stand point sometimes you have to go through some tough times to find out who you really are and we’ve been able to overcome those things up to this point.”

Overcoming adversity is just what this Coastal Carolina football team has been about this season. In all contests but one they have been considered the underdog, and obviously as their record reflects, they have been able to overcome the outside perspective and make their own story. Now ranked inside the top 25, the Chanticleers look forward to hosting a very talented Georgia Southern team, but Coach Chadwell still feels that his team is taking the underdog approach, chip on the shoulder attitude into the remainder of the season.

“If I were a betting man, I’d say we’ll be considered the underdog against Georgia Southern due to our past history, but that’s who we are, that’s just our mindset," he shared. "When we show up, we know what it takes to win games and it's not our talent. Not that we do not have talent but we have to do a lot of those other little things right and so I do think our team will play and remain playing with a chip on our shoulder.”

Georgia Southern is just a missed 53-yard field goal attempt from being 5-0 on the season, so Chadwell knows that the Chanticleers will have to keep up their level of play to have a chance to defeat the Eagles at home.

“Arguably Georgia Southern might be the best team we have played this year, so were going to have to play really well to beat them….I think it’ll be a big challenge for us and we must play at a high level and can't rest on anything that we’ve done previously," he added.

With the Chanticleers welcoming Georgia Southern into Brooks Stadium on Saturday, it will mark the fifth nationally televised game for Coastal Carolina and presents a pivotal matchup within the Sun Belt Conference’s East Division. The Chants, who have not won more the two conference games in any season since joining the Sun Belt, will look to move to 3-0 in conference play and continuing the theme of making history as they continue through the 2020 season.