— By Bill Cornwell
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — One week after recording its first Sun Belt Conference victory, Marshall hopes to win at home in league play for the first time. The Thundering Herd plays host to Coastal Carolina for its homecoming game at 7 p.m. Saturday. The contest will air on NFL Network.
Marshall (4-3, 1-2) is fresh off a 26-12 victory at James Madison. Coastal Carolina (6-1, 3-1) was off last week after falling at home to Old Dominion 49-21 on October 15.
Coastal opened the season with six consecutive wins, including conference victories over Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Louisiana-Monroe and non-league wins over Army, Gardner-Webb and Buffalo.
The Chanticleers are already bowl eligible for a third straight season and they come to Huntington winners of four straight road games dating back to last season.
Marshall’s defense is preparing for a major challenge in slowing the Chanticleers high-powered offensive attack, which led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Grayson McCall.
“He’s arguably the best quarterback in the country,” Marshall head coach Charles Huff said.
McCall has thrown for 1,940 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. He’s also rushed for 146 yards, scoring 3 touchdowns on the ground.
McCall is aided by leading rusher CJ Beasley, who has gained 559 yards and scored four touchdowns while averaging 77 rushing yards.
Coastal’s passing game is paced by receivers in Sam Pinckney and Jared Brown, who have combined for 72 catches for 1,188 yards and six touchdowns.
Coastal’s defense is allowing 414 yards per game and gives up nearly 267 passing yards. The Chanticleers defense causes takeaways, with CCU having forced 17 turnovers this season to tie for the Sun Belt lead.
The Chanticleers are coached by Jamey Chadwell, who is in his fifth season with the Chanticleers. He has a 36-20 record at Coastal and a 96-55 career record in 12 seasons. Chadwell came to Coastal after leading the programs at Charleston Southern, Delta State and North Greenville.
Despite the 6-1 record, Chadwell believes his team’s bye week came at a good time.
“We’ve struggled with fundamentals in all three phases of the game,” Chadwell said. “We’ve masked those problems for awhile, but we can’t do that now.”
Another challenge for Coastal has been preparing for Marshall’s two-quarterback system that features both Henry Colombi and Cam Fanche.
“You have to plan for both and you have to understand why they’re in the game,” Chadwell said. “We’ve got to be ready to stop their running game.”
Marshall back Khalan Laborn surpassed the 1,000-yard mark this season against the Dukes and enters with 1,002 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns over his first seven games at MU after transferring from Florida State.
Fancher was the lone MU quarterback to play against JMU with Colombi unavailable due to injury. He managed the Marshall offense in the win, picking up 22 yards on the ground throwing for 159 yards and a touchdown, although he did throw two interceptions.
Saturday will be the first meeting between the two teams.
Player of the Week
Marshall picked up its first Player of the Week honor as a member of the Sun Belt Conference on Monday as redshirt junior defensive end Owen Porter was named as the league’s Defensive Player of the Week for his work in the James Madison win.
Porter made nine tackles against the Dukes, including 3.5 sacks, another tackle for loss, four quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.