College Football Week 1, 2021: Wednesday notes and observations

Monday’s notes and observations

Tuesday’s notes and observations (ratings and rankings)

A few more links for today:

My game review of the last time Coastal Carolina and The Citadel met on the gridiron

Coastal Carolina preview in the Myrtle Beach Sun News

One sentence from the preview: “How will the Chants react to a loss, if there is one?”

Coastal Carolina preview from WMBF-TV

Jaylan Adams’s learning curve will be a key to success for The Citadel

Broadcast information

The Citadel at Coastal Carolina, to be played on James C. Benton Field at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina, with kickoff at 7:00 pm ET on September 2, 2021.

The game will be streamed on ESPN+ (as should be the case for every game The Citadel plays this season). Jeff McCarragher will handle play-by-play, while the Renaissance Man himself, Nate Ross, supplies the analysis.

The contest can be heard on radio via The Citadel Sports Network. WQNT-1450 AM [audio link], originating in Charleston, will be the flagship station. Other stations carrying the game include WQXL in Columbia (100.7 FM/1470 AM) and WDXY in Sumter (105.9 FM/1240 AM).

Luke Mauro (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) calls the action alongside analyst Lee Glaze.

Of the 117 players on The Citadel’s online roster, 66 are from South Carolina. Other states represented: Georgia (17 players), Florida (11), North Carolina (9), Virginia (5), Alabama (2), Texas (2), and one each from New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Tennessee. 

Tight end Hayden Williamson played his high school football in Okinawa, Japan.

Coastal Carolina lists 128 players on its current squad. There are 34 Chanticleers from South Carolina. Other states that have contributed players to the roster: Georgia (22 players), North Carolina (16), Florida (15), Virginia (6), Tennessee (5), Maryland (4), Massachusetts (3), Alabama (2), Arizona (2), Illinois (2), Mississippi (2), New Jersey (2), Texas (2), and one each from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. 

Two CCU players (Wilt Gabe II and Enock Makonzo) are from Canada, while P/PK Kieran Colahan is a native of Australia.

While the majority of Coastal Carolina’s players were recruited to CCU out of high school, a fair number of them arrived via other four-year schools or junior colleges. Two players went to both a four-year college and a JuCo before transferring to play for the Chanticleers.

Among the four-year institutions that various CCU players originally attended: Charleston Southern, Frostburg State, Georgia State, Georgia Tech (two players), Guilford, Indiana, Lehigh, Middle Tennessee State, Morgan State, North Carolina State, North Carolina Wesleyan, Old Dominion, Oklahoma State, Presbyterian, Tiffin, and Vanderbilt.

The junior colleges that have provided players for the team include several well-known for producing talented athletes, such as Coffeyville, Hutchinson, and Independence (all in Kansas), Northeast Mississippi, and Glendale (Arizona).

Two players attended New Mexico Military Institute, whose best-known football alumnus is Roger Staubach, the legendary former Navy and NFL quarterback. Speaking of USNA, two other Chanticleers spent time at USNAPS.

The transfers have definitely made an impact at Coastal Carolina. Quite a few are on CCU’s two-deep, including projected starters at nosetackle, wide receiver, b-back, linebacker, cornerback, and the “spur” position.

Here are a few statistics of note from Coastal Carolina’s 2020 season. The Chanticleers finished 11-1, winning their first eleven games before losing to Liberty in the Cure Bowl.

Among FBS teams (127 of which played last season), CCU ranked as follows in these categories:

  • 1st in turnover margin (+13)
  • 1st in forced fumbles, defense (16)
  • Tied for 3rd in defensive interceptions (16)
  • 36th in defensive havoc rate (17.53%)
  • 13th in yards per play, offense (6.71)
  • 6th in adjusted yards per pass attempt, offense (9.02)
  • 46th in adjusted yards per rush attempt, offense (5.32)
  • 30th in sack rate, offense (4.7%)
  • 6th in big play rate passing, offense (one every 6.84 attempts)
  • 62nd in big play rate rushing, offense (one every 25.20 attempts)
  • 29th in combined big play rate, offense (one every 12.58 plays)
  • 45th in yards per play, defense (5.48)
  • 18th in adjusted yards per pass attempt, defense (5.58)
  • 90th in adjusted yards per rush, defense (5.38)
  • 17th in sack rate, defense (8.5%)
  • 15th in big play rate passing, defense (one every 13.79 attempts)
  • 50th in big play rate rushing, defense  (one every 28.46 attempts)
  • 20th in combined big play rate, defense (one every 18.33 plays)

Note: the “adjusted” yards per pass attempt (and rush attempts) is a reference to sacks, which are included in passing totals in these calculations. Also, big plays are defined here as any play from scrimmage of 20+ yards (rushing or passing).

While the number of forced fumbles by the Chanticleers’ defense is notable, that is not necessarily why CCU led the nation in turnover margin. Coastal Carolina’s opponents fumbled 22 times in 12 games (including those 16 forced fumbles); CCU recovered nine of them. That’s not a completely unexpected outcome; in terms of fumble luck, the Chanticleers were actually -2 on defense (and +0.5 on offense).

The statistic that really jumps out: 16 interceptions. Coastal Carolina defensed 42 passes last season, not an overwhelming number (47th-most in FBS). CCU had a PD rate of 11.47% (42 defensed in 366 opponent attempts).

However, 16 of those 42 PDs wound up being picks, which is remarkable. The average pass defensed results in an interception a little over 20% of the time; CCU’s INT/PD rate last season was 38.1%, which ranked third nationally, and is almost certainly not sustainable.

Other teams with outlier pick numbers in this respect included Kentucky, Indiana, and Wake Forest. Conversely, Missouri only intercepted four passes despite 45 PDs.

Incidentally, The Citadel’s defensive INT/PD this spring was 20.7%, right around the national average. The Bulldogs had a passes defensed rate of 15.76% (29 defensed in 184 attempts).

Coastal Carolina’s offensive numbers were almost uniformly excellent, a fact that can be easily gleaned from the category rankings listed above. CCU was about as efficient a passing team as there was in the country, and its rushing numbers were also good. Defensively, the Chanticleers were generally solid, with the somewhat puzzling exception of the squad’s rush defense, which was statistically below average.

A few other odds and ends for today:

  • Thursday night’s game will be played on artificial turf, which will be the case for all of The Citadel’s 11 regular-season games this fall. That is a first in program history.
  • The Citadel has a record of 2-3 for games played on September 2. Both wins came against Newberry, in 1995 and 2017. I posted a review of the 2017 contest that can be read here: Link 
  • In the 1995 contest against Newberry, Scott Belcher proved to be the difference, with 29 tackles and a blocked PAT late in the game that enabled the Bulldogs to hang on for a 21-20 victory. (I will never understand why Newberry didn’t go for two in that situation.) Stanley Myers rushed for 176 yards and a TD.
  • Congrats to Dee Delaney for making the 53-man roster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; not bad for an assistant football coach at Whale Branch High School.