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San Jose State cruising, Coastal Carolina losing in build-up to Hawaii Bowl

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The first half of the 2023 season couldn’t have gone much worse for San Jose State.

The Spartans coasted through the second half and have a chance to slap a shiny ribbon on the season in the Hawaii Bowl on Saturday night against Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers are trying to avoid seeing a bad December, due to the transfer of record-smashing quarterback Grayson McCall, get even worse.

San Jose State charged to a second-place finish in the Mountain West with six straight wins, but tiebreakers left them out of the conference championship game with a bowl eligibility consolation prize. As an added bonus, the game is a homecoming for quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, who grew up in Honolulu.

“It’s everything I could ask for,” he said. “To play in front of my family and hometown for the last game in a Spartan uniform — best thing I could ask for.”

Cordeiro’s play has been about the best thing San Jose State (7-5) could ask for as he’s completed 62.7 percent of his 332 passes for 2,558 yards with 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He also gained 213 yards and three scores on the ground.

Cordeiro was efficient and good in the team’s 37-31 win at UNLV on Nov. 25, hitting 19 of 26 attempts for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns. When the Rebels drew within 20-17 in the third quarter, Cordeiro threw a touchdown pass that started a run of 17 straight points that enabled the Spartans to seal the outcome.

Cordeiro won’t have a couple of key teammates around for the bowl game. Left tackle Fernando Carmona and tight end Dominick Mazotti entered the transfer portal earlier this month. Carmona is likely headed for a Power 5 school with the likes of Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina and Auburn already offering him.

Leading receiver Nick Nash (47 catches, 704 yards, 8 TDs) said he would stay with the Spartans.

“They’ve stuck with me through hard times,” he said. “This is where I want to finish out my career in college and hopefully move on to the next level.”

Coastal Carolina (7-5) won’t have its face of the program around, but that’s a reality the Chanticleers braced for the past two months. McCall, instrumental in the program’s rise to a top 25 ranking and unbeaten regular season in 2020, has transferred to N.C. State. He missed the final six weeks of the season recovering from a head injury.

First-year coach Tim Beck, N.C. State’s offensive coordinator prior to taking the Coastal job, said that Ethan Vasko would start in the bowl game. Beck said he talked to the Wolfpack’s coaching staff about McCall.

“At the end of the day, I want to help all our guys,” Beck said. “My door’s always open.”

McCall completed better than 67 percent of his passes for 1,919 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions but suffered a serious concussion on Oct. 21 against Arkansas State and missed the last five games. Vasko hit on 56 of 89 attempts for 580 yards in seven games while rushing for 318 yards, second on the team.

His top target will be wide receiver Sam Pinckney, who finished the year with 64 receptions, 904 yards and seven touchdowns. Pinckney owns the NCAA record with 57 straight games with at least one catch.

This will be the first matchup between the Chanticleers and Spartans.

–Field Level Media

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