No. 22 Coastal Carolina and Georgia State will both be sorting through quarterback concerns when they meet on Saturday.
For the Chanticleers (8-1, 4-1 Sun Belt Conference), it’s not knowing how long starter Grayson McCall will be out with what the school describes as an “upper-body injury.”
For the Panthers (4-5, 3-2), it is about starter Darren Grainger look downfield more rather than relying on the run game.
“We’ve got to do it in a hurry,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “We addressed that in our team meeting, what we had to do better offensively, and certainly we’ve got to throw the ball better. We’ve got some talented receivers that are doing a lot of blocking right now, and they should be doing a lot more catching.”
Georgia State ranks 15th in the FBS and second behind Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt in the run game.
Grainger has completed 57.7% of his throws for 1,022 yards and 12 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Elliott is looking to get more explosive as they try to play their way into a bowl game.
“We’ve got to stretch this thing out,” he said. “We’re playing the game of football in a 10-by-10 box.”
Coastal Carolina had little problem of that with McCall in charge and throwing to standout targets in receiver Jaivon Heiligh and tight end Isaiah Likely. But McCall missed last week’s game and Chants coach Jamey Chadwell is unsure if or when he’ll return.
“There’s potential Grayson couldn’t play again(this season) and there’s potential he can,” Chadwell said.
“Could it be three more weeks, yeah, it could be,” he said. “Could it be less than that, sure.”
McCall’s backup, senior Bryce Carpenter, will play for as long as McCall can’t. Carpenter helped the Chanticleers to 28-8 win at Georgia Southern.
“I’ve always tried to prepare like I’m the starter,” said Carpenter, who’s making his 10th career start. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
The Chanticleers have won 12 straight at home, one shy of the program’s best-ever streak set from 2012-14 when they competed in the FCS. Georgia State enters having won both previous games they’ve played at Coastal Carolina.
Georgia State quarterback Darren Grainger is having a homecoming as he grew up in Conway, South Carolina, playing at Conway High School only a few miles from Coastal Carolina’s campus. Grainger started at Furman before transferring to the Panthers.
“I’m sure he’s excited about playing here and having family and friends in the stands,” Coastal Carolina’s Chadwell said.
Chants quarterback Bryce Carpenter has played in 34 games and made nine starts in his time at the school. He’s thrown for 1,641 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in his four seasons. Carpenter, from Sarasota, Florida, said he’s stayed at Coastal because he loves his teammates and vibe they’ve created here in their short time in the FBS.
Along with winning out, Coastal Carolina will need help from the outside if it wants to win a Sun Belt Conference championship. The Chants were kicked out of the driver’s seat with a 30-27 loss last month at Appalachian State, a game where they took a 14-0 lead before falling. Coastal needs another Mountaineers loss to set up a title match at No. 24 Louisiana-Lafayette.
This is the fourth ranked opponent Georgia State has faced this season, including its second in a row in Sun Belt Conference play. The Panthers had earlier fallen to No. 22 North Carolina, No. 23 Auburn and 24th-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette. Georgia State is 0-11 all time against ranked teams.
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