Coastal Carolina football struggles in loss to Georgia State. Do CCU’s flaws spell trouble?

Coastal Carolina couldn’t make it three wins in a row at home against Georgia State.

CCU (2-2) fell to Georgia State (4-0), 30-17, as missed opportunities and systemic issues grounded the Chants.

Coastal Carolina Head Coach Tim Beck said he thought his team was tight heading into the game.

“I didn’t do a very good job getting our guys ready,” Beck said after the game. “I felt like we were ready; I felt like we had a good plan, but for some reason we didn’t.”

McCall defended his coach after the game.

“We had a good plan,” McCall said. “(Beck) comes up here and says it’s on him. It’s not. It’s on us.”

Coastal’s fate was sealed Thursday on a play that was indicative of the ills that plagued Coastal all game, and all season. With 8:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, Coastal had driven to GSU’s 17-yard line, trailing 27-10, and faced a fourth-and-4.

Coastal quarterback Grayson McCall dropped back to pass, but was met by a horde of Panthers. McCall was hit as he threw, but he still found wide receiver Sam Pinckney.

Pinckney couldn’t pull the ball in, and CCU turned the ball over on downs. Coastal loyalists began heading to the exits, but most of the original 15,248 in attendance had left before the second half began.

CCU did get on the board shortly thereafter, though, when Coastal defender Abraham Temoney recovered a mishandled snap from GSU punter Kade Loggins. But the Chants failed to secure the ensuing onside kick, and Georgia State held on to win.

The game was an opportunity for CCU to prove that it has what it takes to compete at the top of the Sun Belt Conference, as the Chants have for the past three years. But the loss to provided more questions than answers.

Despite a strong showing in a loss to UCLA followed by two straight wins, several worrying data points emerged that spelled trouble if they turned into trends. Coastal Carolina couldn’t effectively run the ball at times throughout the UCLA and Jacksonville State games, while also struggling to stop opponents’ ground games.

Coastal’s also struggled to stop the pass rush of its opponents. Coastal had allowed seven sacks entering the game, which has disrupted CCU’s offense at times this season.

Coastal’s kicking and red zone execution have also hindered CCU’s scoring this year.

Against UCLA, CCU only managed one touchdown despite four trips into the red zone, and missed two field goals.

CCU was inconsistent on the ground once again Thursday. Coastal rushers couldn’t penetrate deep into GSU’s defense for most of the game, finishing with just 107 yards, just over four yards per carry.

CCU managed only 26 yards on 12 carries in the first half, and Coastal’s offense suffered as a result. Through four games, CCU rushers are averaging only 3.8 yards per carry, 11th out of 14 teams in the Sun Belt.

Coastal’s run game has been impacted by injury, as well. Starting running back Reese White has not rushed the ball the past two weeks, and Beck said after the game White is dealing with an injury. Beck would not say what the injury was but said the injury was a “game-time decision.”

The Chants also struggled to stop Georgia State’s pressure. GSU sacked McCall twice and hit him more, as McCall was often forced to throw checkdowns or try to escape from the pocket. After the game, McCall said he hadn’t expected as much pressure as GSU brought.

“I know the guys up front are working their tails off to protect me,” McCall said. “A lot of things to clean up.”

Meanwhile, Coastal’s defense had no answer for Georgia State’s rushing attack. Whether it was GSU running back Marcus Carroll or quarterback Darren Grainger shedding tackles and dodging Chant defenders, Coastal kept getting gashed on the ground.

CCU’s special teams had struggles of its own. Placekicker Liam Gray missed two kicks, including a 51-yard field goal.

CCU gave up 182 yard on the ground Thursday, and has surrendered more than 700 yards on the ground this year, the most in the Sun Belt.

Frustration permeated the CCU student section, most of whom left before the second half.

The question now: What does CCU’s performance mean as the season progresses? Coastal’s offense has seemingly lost its big-play ability from years past; it only had 10 plays that went for at least 10 yards despite running 67 plays, while its defense cannot be relied upon to consistently stop opposing offenses.

CCU’s schedule may not provide a reprieve. CCU will face Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, and Marshall in its next four games. Both Georgia Southern and Marshall are in the top half of the Sun Belt in defense, with Marshall being number one.

Coastal Carolina will be on the road for its fifth game of the season. CCU will face Georgia Southern on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The Eagles are 2-1 on the season and play Ball State Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m.

Coastal Carolina’s next game

Game 5: CCU at Georgia Southern University

Gameday: Saturday, Sept. 30

Kickoff Time: 6 p.m. EST

Location: Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, G.A.

Where to watch: TBA

CCU’s all-time record against Georgia Southern: 4-5