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Coastal Carolina looks to bounce against Marshall despite plethora of injuries

Jacob Jenkins ODU

Coastal Carolina tight end Jacob Jenkins (84) catches a ball in the end zone for a touchdown against Old Dominion on Oct. 15. Danny Kelly/Staff

CONWAY — If Coastal Carolina is going to beat Marshall on the road on Oct. 29, it will have to do so with a lot of its players injured.

CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell announced a laundry list of players that either had or will have season-ending surgery.

Safety Dre Pinckney has been out for a while now, but Chadwell included a staggering number of players on his list of players that will be out for the season — defensive lineman Emmanuel Johnson, running back Nate Hope II, nose guard Travis Geiger, wide receiver Chris Rhone, defensive back/running back Elijah Hopkins, spur Jahmar Brown and offensive lineman Tyler Wagner.

Running backs Braydon Bennett and Aaron Bedgood are not out for the season, but will be out for CCU’s first-ever game against the Thundering Herd.

“It’s been challenging,” Chadwell said. “The last couple years, we’ve been pretty fortunate…not to have as many injuries. You’re going to get injured in this game, but typically, you don’t have as many season-ending ones that we’ve had.”

CCU will have to overcome these injuries and deal with a stout Marshall defensive unit, which ranks first in the Sun Belt in total defense (284.4 ypg), team passing efficiency defense (107.13), scoring defense (16.6 ppg), third-down conversion defense (21.4 percent), and fewest first downs allowed (92). The Herd are also tied for first in the Sun Belt in total turnovers forced (17) and interceptions (12). Those 17 turnovers are tied with CCU, Louisiana and Illinois for fifth in the nation.

The defense has allowed just 11 touchdowns all year, including only three on the ground, and is holding its opponents to only 78.1 rushing yards per game on the year.

Six different players have 20 or more tackles on the year for Marshall, while 15 players have recorded double-digit tackles overall led by the trio of Abraham Beauplan (46), Eli Neal (44) and Charlie Gray (43).

“I mean, they’re physical,” CCU tight end Jacob Jenkins said. “They make explosive plays, they’re fast in the secondary, their front seven’s going to be a lot of hands-on (and) banging heads. All the teams really that we’re playing from here on out are going to be big up front and physical, so it’s really just stepping up to that challenge.”

Marshall’s offense is averaging only 388.6 total yards of offense per game this season but is second in the Sun Belt with an average of 204 rushing yards per game.

Running back Khalan Laborn leads the way on the ground with 1,002 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, which both lead the Sun Belt and rank in the top five nationally.

That doesn’t bode well for a CCU run defense that gave up 323 rushing yards in the loss to Old Dominion on Oct. 15. The 323 yards on the ground were the most the Monarchs have ever put up on an FBS opponent, and running back Blake Watson posted a new ODU single-game record with 256 rushing yards.

“We know what we’re going to be faced against,” CCU defensive back Lance Boykin said. “They’re going to try to run it down our throat, so we’ve just got to be prepared for that and believe in the coaching and just go out there and make plays.”

CCU will play on NFL Network for the first time ever and the game will kick off at 7 p.m. ET.

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