Coastal Carolina vs Louisiana-Lafayette: Week 11 Thursday Night Preview

Kurt Boyer

How exactly did Coastal Carolina become a slang term for “cupcake”?

After all, the program’s history is not filled with quite as much futility as some of its eastern mid-major counterparts. Coastal has even given us 1 of the great all-time coaching moments of the modern era – ex-Chanticleer skipper Dave Bennett’s epic “we need more dogs” soundbite that went viral before viral was a thing.

I say it has lots to do with geography. Especially in the college’s FCS years, it was easy enough for Clemson or other nearby powerhouses to schedule Coastal Carolina and make a quick swing toward the beach for a fun-and-sun, thrash-for-cash snoozer. Plus the media’s attention is always focused on the SEC and the ACC. It’s easier to slip under the radar with a 50-0 loss to a Power-5 program if you’re in another time zone.

This much is for sure – Coastal doesn’t deserve the status of cupcake anymore. The Chanticleers fought hard in a 12-7 loss to Kansas in September, a result that looked like another black mark on KU at the time but seems significant in another sense now.

Coastal Carolina presently stands at 4-4 and beat the Troy Trojans 36-35 in a real doozy last weekend. But don’t expect the Chanticleers to be favored this Thursday night, not even against a fellow Sun Belt squad. Louisiana-Lafayette and its imposing muscle is coming to town, fresh off a 31-3 demolition of Texas State in Week 10.

Who: Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

When: Thursday, November 7th, 7:30 PM EST

Where: Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC

Lines: LA-Lafayette (-14.5) at Coastal (+14.5) / O/U Total: (58)

Sun Belt Week 11: Coastal Carolina vs Louisiana-Lafayette

The spread opened at around 10 points and has lurched strongly in LA-Lafayette’s direction, which is puzzling to an extent, because Coastal is obviously good enough to cover (+10) or (+12) against a given Sun Belt squad.

That can only mean 1 thing – handicappers (and especially high-rollers) are treating the Ragin’ Cajuns as a Power-5 type of team stuck in a Group-of-5 conference, much as they did when Louisiana’s pass rush started to look dominant late in 2018.

Louisiana has had its share of QB sacks in 2019 – in fact the defense has already brought down opposing passers 20+ times. But just as often the unit is taking a more comprehensive approach to stopping opponents than simply out-muscling them at the LOS. Senior defensive back Michael Jacquet has intercepted 2 passes, including 1 in the Texas State win. Percy Butler is a 6-footed sophomore (well, he’s 6 feet tall, he doesn’t have 6 actual feet…which would be an interesting visual) who is also having a monster season so far.

I’m struggling to see why Louisiana’s defense should be rated as if it were a strong P5 unit, however. The Ragin’ Cajuns gave up 38 points to Mississippi State and well over 200 rushing yards to Georgia Southern. Arkansas State racked up almost 500 yards in a 37-20 loss to LA-Lafayette in which the diminished Red Wolves were simply unable to convert on their drives. Late explosions of offense are the biggest reason the ‘Cajuns are 6-2.

Coastal hasn’t looked like a 2-touchdown underdog vs Louisiana-Lafayette against common opponents, though some of the clashes went very differently. Appalachian State out-lasted the Ragin’ Cajuns 17-7 in a defensive battle, but the Chanticleers lost to the Mountaineers in an 80+ point shoot-out. QB Bryce Carpenter (and especially his offensive backfield) had another good day in last week’s harrowing win over Troy:

CJ Marable crashed into the end zone in the final seconds of the game, then skirted around the left side for the 2-point conversion to give Coastal Carolina a 36-35 win over Troy on Saturday afternoon. The Chanticleers fell short on the initial conversion try but Troy was called for pass interference in the end zone. Marable, who scored from the 3 for the touchdown, walked into the end zone on the next play for the victory. The Trojans still had 30 seconds remaining but were thwarted on a pass-and-lateral play that fell far short. It was the first Sun Belt Conference win this year for Coastal Carolina (4-4, 1-3).

Troy’s Kaylon Geiger went up high over the defender to pull down a 23-yard scoring strike in the end zone for a 35-28 lead with 8:34 remaining in the final quarter. The teams traded punts before the Chanticleers mounted their 11-play, 71-yard winning drive. Bryce Carpenter threw for 285 yards and one score and Marable finished with 52 yards on 14 carries. Jaivon Heiligh caught 12 passes for 107 yards.

I’m not seeing the consistency in the defensive line that was obvious for Louisiana as the team marauded into bowl season last year. Carpenter should have the chance to operate on Thursday night, especially on home turf. Louisiana-Lafayette is getting some people back from injury this week, but they won’t have a ton of practice and preparation time, and Coastal also appears to be healthier in some spots than in the early weeks of autumn.

Thursday Night Sun Belt Prediction and Pick

I’m feeling a 10 or 14-point win for the visitors, if that. I don’t believe that the teams are as poorly-matched as bettors are thinking, and the line-movement to (-14.5) opens up a fine wager on Coastal-to-cover.

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