No. 17 Coastal Carolina aims to keep silencing doubters vs. Kansas

NCAA Football

Any notion that Coastal Carolina could dip after climbing as high as No. 9 in the rankings and finishing 11-1 last season seems to have been addressed in fall camp.

“I really think the success we had last year actually motivated us to work harder in the offseason and get better because now we know the places that we can go,” quarterback Grayson McCall said.

McCall and the No. 17 Chanticleers (1-0) will face Kansas (1-0) on Friday at Conway, S.C.

McCall, the reigning Sun Belt player of the year, needed just six possessions to show off his touch as Coastal Carolina pounded Citadel 52-14 in its opener. After going 16 of 19 for 262 passing yards and adding 24 yards on just two carries, McCall rested.

“We went into the game saying we weren’t going to call anything specific where he had to run the ball,” said coach Jamey Chadwell, noting that McCall’s mobility will still be critical to the Chanticleers’ success.

Additional firepower is available after running back Braydon Bennett, the Sun Belt 110-meter hurdle champion, cracked the lineup and sailed 23 yards with an option pitch on the Chanticleers’ first snap of the season. Bennett gained 82 all-purpose yards on eight touches.

Coastal Carolina totaled a whopping 610 yards and averaged 11 yards per play. After drawing its second-largest crowd in history, attendance could soar even more with a first-ever visit from a Power 5 program. The Chanticleers won at Kansas each of the past two seasons and have won eight straight at home.

“We still feel like a lot of people think last season was a fluke, and it just happened because of COVID, and we cheated on COVID tests, and it really just pushes us,” said nose tackle Travis Geiger, one of just four new starters from last season.

Like Coastal Carolina, the Jayhawks also beat an FCS opponent to begin the season, rallying for a 17-14 win over South Dakota to end a 13-game losing streak in a successful debut for new coach Lance Leipold.

North Texas transfer Jason Bean beat out two veterans and went 17 of 26 passing with two touchdowns. He added a team-high 54 yards on 15 rushes.

“There’s going to be a work in progress in a lot of different things,” Leipold said. “But (Bean’s) athleticism is something, his speed and quickness when he does decide to keep the ball.”

One of the most impressive attributes about Bean’s performance may have been the poise he showed in the clutch. The Jayhawks, after all, are coming off a 0-9 finish a year ago, including a 38-23 loss to Coastal Carolina.

“Just coming in each day, trying to get better, trying to be consistent,” Bean said of his approach at fall practices, which also marked the first that Leipold directed after his hiring came too late to orchestrate spring practices.

The Jayhawks will have more depth among rushers since Amauri Pesek-Hickson will return off an injury. Kansas running backs gained just 30 yards on 25 carries against South Dakota.

–Field Level Media

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