FBS Newcomer: Coastal Carolina Edition

In recent years, we in the college football community have been blessed by a few new programs competing at the FBS level. As they first arrive, they typically are not bowl eligible in what is called their “transition” year. The most recent teams to transition to the FBS level are UTSA, Texas State, South Alabama, and UMass in 2012, Georgia State in 2013, Old Dominion, Georgia Southern, and Appalachian State in 2014, and Charlotte in 2015. This season, we have two teams joining the FBS ranks in Coastal Carolina and UAB (will be discussed at a later time).

Coastal Carolina is located in Conway, South Carolina (who knew?). I’m sure Clemson and South Carolina are worried about a team with a 9,000 seat stadium stealing their recruits, but that’s beside the point. They will compete in the Sun Belt Conference and play a typical Sun Belt schedule.  However, their four non-conference games are UMass, at UAB, Western Illinois, and at Arkansas. Pretty nice right? Minus the game at Arkansas, the other three could be nice fantasy games. Coastal Carolina will play Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Texas State, and Troy at home. On the road, they will play Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Idaho, and Louisiana-Monroe. Regardless of the dates of these games, the schedule looks fairly manageable even though bowl eligibility is not a possibility in 2017.

The good news is, we don’t care whether a team is bowl eligible or not, obviously, because it doesn’t matter. We as college fantasy degenerates, love stats. We care about the players that the casual player overlooks. We love the potential of finding players that have the potential to be stars that no one knows about. If you are reading this article, I’m going to assume you are a college fantasy football degenerate and I will continue to write assuming as much.

In 2016, the Chanticleers (yes, that is their team name) were very run heavy statistically. Just by looking at the stats, you would think one of two things: A) this is an option team, or B) this team has no quarterback and just runs because that’s its only viable option. To confirm my assumption, I went to the tape. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch a ton of tape but I watched enough to know what kind of system they run. Needless to say, they aren’t giving Army or Navy a run for their money with the triple option even though they do incorporate the option into the attack. Coastal is a spread team that uses the run to their advantage. They like to spread the ball around and don’t mind throwing the ball down the field, albeit mostly unsuccessful in their attempts to do so. In 2016, the quarterback situation was very shaky, to say the least, but they made it work. The running game carried them along with short throws to move the chains. Only averaging 133 passing yards per game will not cut it at the FBS level unless you plan on running for 300+.

Now lets get into personnel. I want to start with Head Coach Joe Moglia. Moglia is beginning his 6th season at Coastal Carolina and currently has a 41-13 record and was named the Eddie Robinson FCS National Coach of the Year in 2015 following a 9-3 record. He was the runner-up for the award the season before following a 12-2 record.

The offense will return just three starters from 2016.

Quarterbacks

The big name here is former Syracuse quarterback Austin Wilson. Wilson was not anything impressive at Syracuse but has the opportunity to be something here. If this team can get some sort of consistency from the offensive line, then Wilson can have a productive season. If Wilson can’t get it together, the next man up would be Senior, Tyler Keane. Keane threw for for 809 yards and 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions in 2016 so Wilson could be pushed somewhat.

Running Backs

The Chanticleers lost a big performer at running back in De’Angelo Henderson but all signs point to a committee approach in 2017. The transition to the FBS may be rough especially at first but I will keep an eye out for any indication of a sole performer in this backfield. For now, the names to watch are Osharmar Abercrombie (that’s a fun one), and a Boston College transfer Marcus Outlow. Abercrombie did run for 396 yards and four touchdowns in 2016 so I expect him to be the one to own, if any, going into the season.

Wide Receivers

This is where it gets pretty dicey. As I mentioned before, the QBs only averaged 133 passing yards per game. Obviously, the wide receiver position needs a huge boost and I’m not sure they will get it in 2017. The most productive returning receiver from 2016 is Chris Jones and he only managed to catch 22 passes. His numbers should rise dramatically if Austin Wilson can deliver. Jones is also used as a punt returner and he’s pretty decent one. At only 5’11, 170 lbs Jones is shifty and if given the opportunities, can be a fantasy sleeper in 2017. The guy I am intrigued by is Omar Black. At 6’2, 190 lbs, Black has the size to be a productive receiver especially in the redzone. Again, the quarterback play will have to sort itself out but if it does, there will be some nice value here.

Defense

This is the side of the ball that returns the most experience. The Chanticleers return six starters from a defense that finished 21st in total defense giving up 331 yards per game. Not entirely impressive. The good news is that there aren’t a bunch of high powered offenses on the schedule this year. If your league uses team defense, I wouldn’t put Coastal on your shortlist.

 

In conclusion, I think there are some intriguing players on this team. Running back Osharmar Abercrombie and wide receiver Chris Jones have the most fantasy potential week in week out. The recurring theme though is that the quarterback play must improve if this team wants to have any sort of success in 2017. I expect this team to play hard but just lack the overall personnel to compete in 2017. The schedule is favorable for sure but winning 5 games will look rather good come season’s end. Good thing we as fantasy scholars don’t care about their win total.

 

Oh and by the way, their field is teal. For those who care about such things.