Coastal Carolina was an underdog going into Lawrence before kicking off its undefeated regular season
Just one year ago, Coastal Carolina was an underdog going into Lawrence before kicking off its undefeated regular season.
A lot can change in a year, as the Chanticleers are now sitting as a favorite of more than three touchdowns against the same team.
To start 2021, both teams opened with FCS opponents with very different results. Coastal Carolina wiped its opponent off the field, while Kansas trailed South Dakota, 14-10, with under two minutes left and needed late-game heroics to survive.
Most FBS teams would be livid with that result, but the Kansas fans stormed the field after the nail-biter if that tells you anything of where the program is currently at.
We’re not getting any discounts on Coastal this time around, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find betting value in this Friday night matchup.
Kansas Offense vs. Coastal Carolina Defense
Lance Leipold’s offense at Buffalo last year was one of the most efficient in the country last season, so 3.7 yards per play last week against South Dakota probably wasn’t what he was looking for in his first game at Kansas.
The offense was dreadful in 2020, and that continued against a very soft opponent to open 2021.
Kansas’ offense was a rare type of bad last season, ranking second-worst in Rushing Success Rate and third-worst in Passing Success Rate. The offensive line was a major reason for the team’s struggles, with a laughable 18.2 pass-blocking grade and 48.7 run-blocking grade, per PFF, which were both bottom-10 in the country.
The unit gained some transfers from Buffalo after Leipold took the job, but Coastal’s pass rush, which ranked 26th in Sack Rate last season, should get home a few times against this group.
Kansas has a new quarterback in Jason Bean from North Texas, and he secured a mediocre 68.0 passing grade against South Dakota and attempted just one pass of more than 20 yards down the field. He’s likely an upgrade over what Kansas had last season, but that is a very low bar to clear. He’ll have a big test against this Chanticleer pass rush.
Coastal’s biggest weakness last season was run defense, but after averaging 2.1 yards per carry against South Dakota, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for the Jayhawks to get the ground game going here.
Even worse, Kansas’ running backs combined for just 30 yards on 25 carries, as Bean’s 15 carries for 54 yards carried the ground game by far.
Even though Coastal Carolina’s run defense is exploitable, it still has an advantage against this Kansas rushing “attack.”
Coastal Carolina Offense vs. Kansas Defense
I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that this is incredibly lopsided.
Coastal’s offense is as loaded as anyone in the Group of Five and should be able to consistently move the ball on the ground and through the air against this weak defense.
Coastal’s offense starts on the ground with its unique hybrid option offense, as it ran the ball at the 10th-highest rate in the country in 2020.
It had three running backs who were featured in the offense last season, all with similar efficiency on the year, and two of them return. Quarterback Grayson McCall is also a major part of the ground game, as he averaged 10 carries per game in 2020 and totaled 569 yards and seven rushing touchdowns on the year.
One of the best ground attacks from 2020 looks like it will be a big problem for opposing defenses yet again as the Chants get into the meat of their schedule.
In this matchup, Kansas may have a long day defending the rush after ranking 113th in Expected Points Added Allowed in that department in 2020.
The Jayhawks do have a new defensive coordinator in Brian Borland, who came with head coach Lance Leipold from Buffalo and could improve the performance in the run game.
Buffalo’s defense had a respectable ranking of 43rd in Rushing Success Rate last season in its 4-3 scheme. Kansas mostly utilized a 3-4 look last season under coordinator D.J. Eliot, so a different look up front could help improve this unit.
It may take some time to see significant improvement, considering Kansas’ personnel at the moment, but there is much more reason to be optimistic in the long term.
Even though Coastal Carolina leaned on the ground game for the most part last year, the passing game was incredibly efficient, with ranks of sixth in Success Rate and fifth in Expected Points Added.
In tight end Isaiah Likely and receiver Jaivon Heiligh, the Chants have two of the very top players at their respective positions in the Group of Five. In fact, each graded out as top-five players in the nation at their positions, per PFF.
With those two, plus quarterback McCall’s 92.6 passing grade from last season, the Coastal Carolina passing game has a big edge against this Kansas coverage unit.
With a coverage unit that ranked 122nd out of 127 teams last season, Kansas does not match up well against this passing attack.
Additionally, Kansas lost its top two cornerbacks to the transfer portal, and both landed with Power Five teams. The Jayhawks’ starting outside cornerbacks combined for only 291 snaps last season and could be in for a rude awakening against these Chanticleer pass-catchers.