JEFF'S SUN BELT CONFERENCE GAME OF WEEK
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (4-0) vs Georgia Southern Eagles (3-1)
Saturday, October 01, 2022 at 4:00 pm
My math model only favors Coastal Carolina by 6.8 points in this game and the Chanticleers are one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation, ranking 124th returning production (44%). The roster attrition was significant on both sides of the ball as only seven players return from last year’s 11-2 squad. The offense lost its all-time leading wide receiver and tight-end, its 1,000-yard rusher and three starting offensive linemen. Coastal Carolina’s defense has just three returning starters and lost its top five tacklers from last season. Coastal Carolina is the last remaining team outside the Power 5 with a 4-0 record, but the Chanticleers have been one of the luckiest teams in the nation when comparing wins to second-order wins (based on postgame win expectancy). The Chanticleers’ 31-27 victory over Gardner Webb as 32.5-point home favorites epitomizes how fortunate they are to be undefeated at this juncture of the season. Gardner Webb thoroughly dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage, outgaining Coastal Carolina 8.3 yards per play to 5.9 yards per play. Gardner Webb finished with better Offensive Success (49% to 46%) and Standard Down Success (57% to 51%) rates and produced a 64th-percentile EPA per play. Coastal Carolina averaged just 2.6 yards per rush attempt and produced a pedestrian 51st-percentile Offensive Success Rate and a 17th-percentile EPA per play. The difference in the game was Gardner Webb’s five turnovers, which resulted in seventeen turnover luck points for the Chanticleers. Bill Connelly’s post-game win expectancy figure only gave Coastal Carolina a 17.8% chance of winning the game. Georgia Southern is one of the most experienced teams in the nation, ranking 21st in returning production (73%). The Eagles made an excellent hire during the offseason in former USC head coach Clay Helton (46-24 at USC). Helton retained former Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Bryan Ellis to help with the Eagles’ transition from a triple-option attack to a more balanced offense that incorporates a vertical passing game. Former head coach Chad Lunsford began modernizing the offense in 2021 and Helton utilized the transfer portal to further expedite the transition. Helton added Buffalo transfer Kyle Vantrease to run the offense, who started 26 games during his collegiate career at Buffalo, throwing for 4,755 yards (59%, 25-13). The veteran signal-caller has flourished under the new pro-style, up-tempo, pass-heavy attack as Georgia Southern is currently ranked 24th in total offense (39.8 ppg). Wide receiver Sam Kenerson’s season-ending injury is significant in that he caught all 8 passes thrown to him in the first two games for an average of 16.3 yards per target. However, Helton inherited Georgia Southern’s top five receivers from last season and used the transfer portal to bring in Houston transfer Jeremy Singleton, who averaged 15.0 yards per reception for the Cougars. The talented junior caught five passes for 60 yards and one touchdown in his Statesboro debut and is third on the team with 21 receptions for 195 yards. Last year’s leading receiver, Khaleb Hood, is second with 23 receptions for 247 yards, while Derwin Burgess, Jr. leads the Eagles with 25 receptions for 333 yards. Vantrease is protected by one of the nation’s best offensive lines (72.8 PFF pass-blocking grade; 32nd) that has allowed just one sack in four games. The Eagles should have success moving the chains against a subpar Coastal Carolina defense that ranks 79th in scoring defense, 66th in total defense and 110th in passing defense. The Chanticleers have also given up the 28th-most long passing plays (10-plus yards) so Vantrease should have a productive afternoon in what should be ideal conditions in Conway (largely dry with no wind by kick-off). Georgia Southern is 15-7-1 ATS as a double-digit underdog since 2014, including 10-1 ATS vs. opponents coming off consecutive wins, and 9-1 ATS when the Eagles are entering off a win. With Coastal Carolina standing at 6-10 ATS versus .501 or greater conference opponents, grab the points with Georgia Southern and invest with confidence.
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