Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall’s 2021 debut against The Citadel didn’t last long as the Chanticleers quickly outpaced their opponent. What we saw Thursday night from the sophomore who was a Freshman All-American was a display of toughness, accuracy, and hitting his receivers in the right places.
McCall looked the part of a quarterback getting some buzz ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, as he completed 16-of-29 passes for 262 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions before he was retired to the sideline early in the third quarter. Coastal Carolina’s offense was impossible for The Citadel to stop, as the Chanticleers totaled 537 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs’ 153 by the time they punted the ball for the first time—which was in the fourth quarter of a game that ended in a 52-14 win.
McCall’s ability to execute—outside of his abilities to push the ball downfield and put it in the right spot for his receivers—was impressively on display on a 1st-and-10 play around the 8:30 mark of the second quarter, when he faked a handoff to running back Shermari Jones and pitched it to junior rusher Reese White. If you slow this play down on film, you can see how McCall draws his defender (linebacker Brian Horn) in after the faked handoff, looking for a half-second like he’s going to run the ball himself and then at the last possible moment, pitching it off to Jones.
The play resulted in the Chanticleers' third touchdown of the night to make it 21-0 with a lot of football left to be played—and speaks volumes about McCall mentally and his ability to still execute a play that’s not exactly a simple one in perfect fashion. The comfort level and grasp he has on Coast Carolina’s unique spread triple-option offense as just a sophomore is plain to see in situations like these.
The next scoring play was a perfectly thrown 30-yard deep slant from McCall to wide receiver Jaivon Heiligh, perfectly placed to the quarterback to help his wideout come open.
Thursday evening’s showing was certainly a good way for McCall to open the season as he comes off a 2020 campaign in which he guided Coastal Carolina to an 11-1 overall finish and a top-25 ranking. The redshirt sophomore completed 69% of his passes for 2,488 yards with 26 touchdowns and three interceptions over 172 completed passes. McCall also got some work done last year in the ground game with 569 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He wasn’t really called upon quite as much for his rushing ability on Thursday night, though he did get a decent gain in there with two carries for 24 yards.
Can McCall keep a good thing going moving forward in 2021?
He’s got a solid 11 more games on the schedule to prove that—McCall and the Chanticleers face the Kansas Jayhawks up next on Sept. 10 in Brooks Stadium. It’s obviously a bit early to say, but if McCall can continue performing at this level consistently over the remainder of the schedule, a rise into the first-round conversation shouldn’t be off the table.