UMass will face its toughest challenge yet against Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina is ranked No. 17 in the country


Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian

By James DiLuca, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts football team is set to square off against Coastal Carolina who have won 14 out of its last 15 games dating back to last season.

The Chanticleers are arguably the toughest matchup that the Minutemen will face this season, as Coastal Carolina has been ranked in the top 25 for the past 15 weeks.Coastal Carolina (3-0) was an FCS team up until 2018 but has made the transition to the FBS with ease.

“What makes Coastal is their unbelievable recruiting footprint,” said head coach Walt Bell. “They have invested an unbelievable amount of money into their facilities, their recruiting operation, and their graphics operation…they are doing an unbelievable job investing and seeing the fruits of it with continued time.”

The Minutemen (0-3) will attempt to slow down a Coastal Carolina offense that ranks among the nation’s best in several different categories.

The Chanticleers are one of the more explosive offenses in the country as they average 16.5 passing yards per completion which is good for 4th in the country. Additionally, Coastal Carolina has averaged 43 points per game this season which ranks 13th in the nation.

Slowing down Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall will be a challenge for the Minutemen. McCall comes into Saturday with the highest completion percentage in all of college football at 78-percent.

“[McCall] is a true dual threat and when you say dual threat its almost triple threat because he really does run the option very effectively,” said Bell. “[McCall] also can win in the drop back game and also can create and extend plays for himself. He’s an unbelievable competitor… really tough kid physically and mentally, so it will be a huge challenge.”

The Minutemen defense will depend on their ability to create turnovers as they have forced a fumble in each of the first three games of the season.

“We try and do our best to get a ball disruption, said UMass cornerback Donte Lindsey. “We are always trying to get the ball back to the offense and on defense we are always trying to create turnovers.”

UMass will also have to face off against the triple option which has been a very potent weapon for Coastal Carolina as they have the No. 18 ranked rushing attack in the FBS.

“The challenge is stopping the run,” Lindsey said. “They are a good team with the triple option that they run.”

On the offensive end the Minutemen will look to continue their success through the air as over the past two games the Minutemen have averaged 263.5 yards passing. They will be facing off against a Coastal Carolina defense that limits its opponents to just 132.7 yards passing per game.

“We feel very confident,” said wide receiver Rico Arnold of UMass’s offense. “We just got to execute at the beginning of the game.”

The Minutemen have made a point this season of spreading the ball around as 14 players have a reception for UMass this season. Last week against Eastern Michigan, receivers Tray Pettway and Melvin Hill who had not seen much action going in each had breakout games, as they combined for 9 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.

“It was very good [seeing Pettway and Hill get involved],” said Arnold. “I can’t be the only one out there just catching balls, so getting everyone else involved is big.”

Running back Ellis Merriweather will most likely be primed for a heavy workload against Coastal Carolina with back Kay’Ron Adams injured. Merriweather tallied 25 touches last Saturday and gained 162 total yards.

UMass will be heading into enemy territory as Coastal Carolina is set to host the Minutemen this Saturday, with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.

James DiLuca can be reached at [email protected]