EasyPost Hawaii Bowl: Coastal Carolina vs San Jose State
By Simon Carroll
Welcome to Bowl Season! 84 teams, 42 matchups, 35 different cities; if you thought the College Football postseason was restricted to the four teams in the playoffs, think again. In this game preview, we turn our attention to the EasyPost Hawaii Bowl between Coastal Carolina and San Jose State:
Where and When
EasyPost Hawaii Bowl
Location: Clarence TC Ching Athletics Complex, Honolulu, HI
Date: 23rd December 2023
Time: 10:30pm (ET)
The Story So Far...
Something of a Bowl Season staple, the Hawaii Bowl has been a regular fixture on the postseason calendar for more than twenty years. An unsurprisingly popular destination for players who get invited, Hawaii has had other bowl games in it’s past, their names unashamedly associated with tropical a paradise (Aloha, Hula, Pineapple the most memorable). Last year, this game moved from the Aloha Bowl to the Hawaii Rainbow Warrior’s new facilities in Honolulu, which is where this year’s contest will be held once more.
The Hawaii Bowl usually pits a Mountain West team against either a team from the American or Conference-USA. This year it turns to the Sun Belt to find the MWC an opponent, as Coastal Carolina and San Jose State do battle. And despite both university’s campuses being just a stone’s throw away from a beach of their own, neither of these programs have competed in this bowl game before.
First year head coach Tim Beck takes Coastal Carolina to their fourth bowl game in a row after replacing the departed Jamey Chadwell in Conway. Chadwell enjoyed 31 wins the last three seasons, and whilst Beck didn’t reach those heights he did have the Chanticleers at 7-3 before finishing the season with two losses. He’ll have some personnel issues to deal with, as a whopping TWELVE players hit the transfer portal after the loss to JMU.
Things seem a little more settled on the West Coast. Spartans head coach Brent Brennan has been at San Jose State for seven years now, and somehow got his team to a winning record and bowl berth despite a gruelling early schedule seeing them begin the season 1-5. In fact, they were a computer algorithm away from competing in the Mountain West title game – a quite remarkable turnaround.
'To make this bowl game, it's everything I could ever ask for' - Chevan Cordeiro will end his collegiate career where it began as San Jose State will play Coastal Carolina in the 20th Hawai'i Bowl on December 23 https://t.co/YTvJi3k7J0 @c_shimabuku 🤙🏽@iam_clcxii @HawaiiBowl pic.twitter.com/rNAT7cNUdJ— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) November 30, 2023
Tim Beck is going to need all of his offensive acumen to overcome a crisis at quarterback for Coastal Carolina. Longtime starter and Chanticleers legend Grayson McCall is no longer ‘pissing teal’; the mullet-mopped QB is now in Raleigh after joining NC State via the transfer portal. His long-time backup, senior Jarrett Guest, is also in the portal, leaving Ethan Vasko atop the depth chart.
Despite being just a freshman transfer, Vasko has seen plenty of action this season, throwing for 580 yards and has a healthy 4-1 TD:INT ratio. Perhaps the Chants aren’t quite as desperate as it seems, but Vasko will be without receiver Jared Brown, who put up almost 2,000 all purpose yards and 13 TD’s in two seasons on the teal turf. Brown makes the two hour trip west to South Carolina and the SEC, a telling sign of the kind of playmaker Coastal are losing.
The Spartans may have never been to the Hawaii Bowl, but for quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, it’s a trip home. The longtime Mountain West QB was born in Honolulu, and attended Hawaii for four years before transferring to SJSU in 2022.
Cordeiro has the opportunity to play in front of his family in what will be the last game of a record-setting career. The all-time TD leader in conference history (112), Cordeiro has accounted for more than 13,500 all-purpose yards in six seasons. He’s fondly thought of back in Hawaii, and this is a fitting end to an underappreciated career.
Prospects To Watch
When it comes to the Chanticleers, there’s only one place to start – Vasko may have lost one weapon in Jared Brown, but he’s still got an elite target to work with. Sam Pinckney is a Myrtle Beach legend, a long, tall perimeter receiver with an insane catch radius. A big game on Saturday could see him break 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career, which spans six seasons and two schools. Pinckney holds a Sun Belt record for career yards, and is on a 57-game streak of at least one reception – an NCAA record.
For the Spartans, their remarkable turnaround was embodied by a secondary that was on lockdown the season half of the season – allowing just 17 points a game from mid-October. Leading that unit was Tre Jenkins, a 6th year senior who has been a leader and captain for SJSU since 2021. Probably most comfortable as a free safety, Jenkins has been moved around a lot more in the last two seasons as his authority grew. Instinctual and quick to trigger on the football, Jenkins’ all round game delivered 241 tackles, 9 TFL’s, 14 pass breakups, 6 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries in his time at San Jose State.
It’s difficult to see how Coastal Carolina come out on top in this game. Down to their 3rd string QB, a raft of talent hitting the portal, and a 4,800 mile trip make it much more likely to me that SJSU emerge victorious. Factor in the Spartans’ fine form and Cordeiro wanting to put on a show back home in his final swansong, and I’m anticipating a one-sided affair.
Coastal Carolina 10 – 38 San Jose State
PREVIOUSLY THE FOUNDER OF NFL DRAFT UK, SIMON HAS BEEN COVERING COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND THE NFL DRAFT SINCE 2009. BASED IN MANCHESTER, SIMON IS ALSO CO-CREATOR & WEEKLY GUEST OF THE COLLAPSING POCKET PODCAST.