Here we go with Week 6:
The Citadel (2-4, 0-3 9th) @ #1 Appalachian State (5-0, 3-0 1st)
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
Home advantage: 3.91 points
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 28 points (rounded).
Series: Appalachian leads 23-11
Last Meeting: Appalachian 30, Citadel 27 OT, October 3, 2009
Finally, the bye week is over, the hoopla that surrounds homecoming is over with, and we get down to serious business. There are six weeks left in the season, five conference games, and fortunately for Appalachian three of those five conference games are at home. And when you talk about home, it might finally start feeling like it this weekend, just in time for the flatlanders from Charleston to visit. Much cooler weather is expected as is another electric atmosphere at Kidd Brewer Stadium as the Mountaineers play their only night game of the year at The Rock.
The Citadel’s football program survived a nasty offseason on the wrong page of the newspapers, and the result of that is a new offense being headed by a couple of knobs. Freshmen quarterbacks Sam Martin and Matt Thompson have slowly guided the triple option for the Citadel Bulldogs. The Citadel has opened the conference slate with three straight conference losses to Furman, Western Carolina, and Chattanooga, and points have been hard to come by. The Bulldogs have only managed 12.3 points per contest in conference play, despite averaging well over 34 minutes of possession in each of those games.
The statistical leader for the Cadets is fullback Terrell Dallas, who is averaging close to 80 yards per game and leads the team with five touchdowns. Dallas is a tough physical player who rarely loses a yard and also leads the team in carries. However, the quarterback position leads the Citadel in overall carries. Between Martin and Thompson, there have been 125 quarterback keepers in six games, although only averaging 2.7 yards per tote. After the quarterbacks, there is not another Citadel back that has received more than 24 carries on the season. Seven different players have carried 10 times or more.
The midseason bye week once again played havoc with the Mountaineers. In recent years, Appalachian has played very close ballgames with almost every opponent coming off of a bye. All recent losses came by three points, most notably, Georgia Southern in 2007 and Furman in 2005. In fact, before last week, the victory over Samford last season was the first time Appalachian has won following a bye week in the spread offense era, not counting a 2006 playoff win over Coastal Carolina.
The Mountaineer defense reverted back to form on Saturday, but not the form that many fans wanted to see. It appeared like a replay of the Chattanooga game. Time after time, Scott Riddle was able to throw over the heads of the Mountaineer defenders. Luckily, the bulk of the conference passing attacks are behind the Mountaineers, and they can focus on stopping the run. Outside of Western Carolina, the remaining Mountaineer opponents prefer to run the ball, while three of them use some form of the option. This Saturday will be a huge pretest for the Mountaineers to see where they stand playing assignment defense and not missing tackles. A missed tackle against an option team is a first down, and not only that, but a whole new set of downs.
The Citadel is going to be a team that later in the season may get it all together and beat someone that they really should not beat. I am thinking that team could be Georgia Southern or Elon. I do not think that is going to happen this weekend. In the past, The Citadel has played terrible in Boone, no matter the time of year. This will be the twentieth time the two schools will face off in Boone and the Mountaineers have won sixteen times. This Citadel team is very new to the triple option and they are also very young at key positions on offense. Their game plan will be to control the clock and they must eliminate turnovers. The Bulldogs have lost 12 fumbles in six games and they cannot do that and have a chance against Appalachian. Even though the Bulldogs do a really good job of possessing the ball, they must take advantage of their opportunities. The Citadel has only scored eight touchdowns on twenty red zone possessions. They will need to be perfect in that department to compete with the Apps. If they can control the clock, make this a short game, and score close to 24 points, they will have a good chance at the upset. I think it could be difficult for Appalachian to transition from playing pass defense, to playing run defense, at least for the first couple quarters. The key for Appalachian will be not to beat itself. The Mountaineers committed way too many penalties last week that bailed out Elon over and over. An upset could be in the making if that trend continues. The health of DeAndre Presley is also a huge concern for Appalachian. Several Appalachian players were quite outspoken over a questionable late hit on their star quarterback in the closing minutes of the win over Elon. Jamal Jackson could get his first start, which would also favor The Citadel. Whether or not Presley can play is yet to be seen, but I do not think it will matter. Jackson has shown that he can also run the spread and his numbers back it up, even in limited action. I think the Mountaineers come out with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. They want to show everyone that the Elon game was a fluke and plan to take it out on an undeserving Citadel team
The First Pick: