As a part of this week’s Cure Bowl preview, ASOR welcomes Coastal Carolina beat writer Alan Blondin from The Sun News, in this week’s edition of “Ask A Beat Writer.” The Sun News is a Myrtle Beach area newspaper and Blondin covers Coastal Carolina Athletics athletics for the paper. 

  1. Even though no current player on either Liberty or Coastal has participated in this rivalry, do you think this being an old rivalry game gives the players and coaching staff some extra motivation, or will they treat it as a normal game? 

Alan Blondin: Coastal has managed to treat every game the same somehow this season. They haven’t had even an inkling of a letdown. But the players have been versed in the importance of the game by former players and alumni, particularly on social media, so they know that beating Liberty will bring joy to many.

  1. Freshman QB Grayson McCall is having an amazing season. 2,170 yards passing and 23 TDs with only 2 interceptions. Not to mention over 400 yards rushing, and 6 more TDs on the ground. What’s the key to stopping him, or at least slowing him down?

AB: Though he’s only a redshirt freshman, McCall ran a similar offense as a three-year starter in high school so he’s very comfortable in the spread option, makes quick decisions, and usually makes the correct decision. The offensive line has kept him pretty clean all year long, so he’ll be tough to stop unless Liberty is able to get pressure on him, but also contain him in the pocket.

  1. Similar to Coastal, the Flames have an impressive QB of their own in Malik Willis. With the exception of NC State, no one has been able to stop Willis this season. What will the Chants do to in order to stop him and the Flames’ offense? 

AB: Coastal has the best defensive front seven in the Sun Belt Conference, and it’s very experienced with multiple seniors at both levels. It’s unlikely he’ll be stopped, but the Chants have as good a chance as anyone of getting constant pressure on him to force his hand, possibly into mistakes that could be the difference in the game. 

  1. What individual player or team unit will have to play well and be key in Coastal Carolina winning the game?

AB: If the offensive line and defensive front seven perform as they have all season up to this point, it makes it easier on the skill positions on both sides of the ball to make plays.

  1. What is your prediction for the game?

AB: If both teams are at full strength, I would expect a close and hard-fought game that will rejuvenate the rivalry, and I expect Coastal to pull out a one-score win.