Coastal Carolina is a team in transition, but the Chanticleers still want to make a good final impression when they oppose East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.
The Pirates hope to put a positive finishing touch on this season, something they were unable to do a year ago.
The teams meet Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala.
Jamey Chadwell left his coaching post with Coastal Carolina on Dec. 4 to become Liberty’s head coach, so interim coach Chad Staggs, the defensive coordinator, will oversee the team for the bowl.
The Chanticleers (9-3) are trying to reach the 10-win mark for the third year in a row.
“It would be awesome to get another one,” Staggs said.
East Carolina (7-5) hasn’t won a bowl game in nine years, but the Pirates have put together consecutive winning records for the first time since 2013 and 2014.
“There’s a lot of motivation to get down there and get the win,” Pirates coach Mike Houston said.
Both teams have quarterbacks who have been largely adored by their teams and fans.
Record-setting Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall is expected to play in the Birmingham Bowl despite entering the transfer portal. McCall has thrown for 2,633 yards and 24 touchdowns with just two interceptions this year, giving him 8,019 passing yards, 78 TD passes and eight interceptions in four seasons with the Chanticleers.
“He should be fine for the bowl game,” Staggs said. “He’s tough as nails. He’s a big competitor and I think the team rallies around that. He’s going to still battle for his team. ‘One last ride’ type of thing is what he said.”
Despite the changes around the Coastal Carolina program, the Pirates are preparing to see the Chanticleers at their best.
“We expect to see the Coastal that everybody has seen all season,” Houston said.
East Carolina was set to play Boston College in last year’s Military Bowl, but COVID-19 cases involving the Eagles nixed that game.
The Pirates have quarterback Holton Ahlers wrapping up a five-year career while playing for his hometown school. He has thrown for 3,408 yards and 23 touchdowns with five interceptions this season.
Staggs maintains that the Chanticleers are in a good mindset despite losing 45-26 to Troy in the Sun Belt Conference title game.
“I got them in the weight room and got them around each other and that’s the best way to wipe away a game (such as that),” Staggs said. “It has been kind of business as usual.”
That’s how the players view it as well.
“We’re going into this thing no different than any other game,” Coastal Carolina linebacker Shane Bruce said. “I don’t think from a mental standpoint we’re going to be any different than how we have been all season.”
Tim Beck, the offensive coordinator at North Carolina State, is set to take over as Coastal Carolina’s head coach in 2023.
This will be the first football meeting between the Chanticleers and Pirates. East Carolina will be in Birmingham for a bowl for the third time, having lost to South Florida in December 2006 and to Florida in January 2015.
–Field Level Media