Here we go with Week 4:
#13 Chattanooga (2-1) @ #3 Appalachian State (2-1)
TV: GoASU TV
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
Home: 3.08 points
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 4 points (rounded).
Series: Appalachian leads 24-10
Last Meeting: Appalachian 42, Chattanooga 41, September 4, 2010, Chattanooga, TN
WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:
Should be APPTASTIC! Sunshine with a few clouds
Kickoff: Mid 60’s
Winning a championship is a step by step process. This Saturday, for Appalachian State and Chattanooga, will be step one of eight toward achieving that goal. Appalachian has completed the process for six straight years and is looking to make history in 2011 with an unprecedented seventh straight title. The Chattanooga Mocs gave Appalachian all it could handle last year in both teams’ season opener, before falling in the final minute on a failed two point conversion. In 2009, Chattanooga also gave Appalachian fits with converted onsides kicks in the second half before falling in the fourth quarter after two interceptions by current Moc quarterback B.J. Coleman. In each of the last two years, the Mocs have been on the doorstep of beating the Mountaineers, but have been turned away. The question is: Can Chattanooga get over that hump? That question and several others will be answered this Saturday at The Rock.
What we know about Chattanooga is that last year they were 6-5, and came very close to being 8-3. They started the season 0-2, first losing the heartbreaker to Appalachian, and then giving up a 17-0 lead to Jacksonville State in the second half before losing 21-17. An 8-3 record might have put Chattanooga in the playoffs, but they finished the season very poorly. The Mocs lost three of their last four, to Elon, BCS champion Auburn, and Wofford. This season has started differently for Chattanooga. After losing to FBS ranked #10 Nebraska, they followed with wins over then FCS ranked #10 Jacksonville State and Eastern Kentucky.
Chattanooga is most known for their quarterback BJ Coleman. In his third year as a starter, Coleman has put up the numbers we have expected. Coleman has completed 64% of his passes for 747 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. The 2:1 touchdown-interception ratio has been commonplace for Coleman. In 2009, he was at 17-9 and 2010, he was at 26-13, touchdowns to interceptions, respectively. He is well known for his passing yards, but he has thrown his fair share of picks. In his career against Appalachian, Coleman has thrown four touchdowns and three interceptions. His game against Appalachian in 2010 was arguably his best game of the season, completing 23 of 37 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for two touchdowns.
Coleman’s go to receiver is easily Joel Bradford, who has hauled in 25 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. The All-SoCon first team selection caught 81 passes for 1284 yards and eight touchdowns last season. No other Moc receiver has caught more than eight passes this season, but there are five Mocs with six or more catches. Bradford is far and away Coleman’s favorite target as he has caught 36% of all of Coleman’s completions. The Mocs have four receivers ranked in the top twenty in yardage in the Southern Conference.
As much as Chattanooga likes to throw the ball, or is known for it, they have made an effort to run the ball more efficiently this season. Last year, Chattanooga averaged 71 offensive plays over the course of the season. On average, the run-pass ratio was pretty balanced, with 36 running plays to 35 passes. This season, averaging 75 offensive plays, the Mocs have run roughly 39 times a game to 36 passes. One can look and say they are passing about the same amount, but three more running plays a game is about two minutes of game clock, which is two more minutes the other team can not score. Last year, the Mocs only ran 29 times against Appalachian to 37 passes.
The ring season is finally upon the Mountaineers with high anticipation. Each and every Appalachian game this season has been a blowout, with games being decided by halftime. Mountaineer fans are anxious to see what the 2011 team is really made of. Each game has seemed very predictable and plain. Fans are ready for the playbooks to be opened up on both sides of the ball. Despite giving up only 12 points in the last two games, the defense seems to have been giving up one too many third down conversions. Giving up an extra set of downs against BJ Coleman will spell disaster for Appalachian.
DeAndre Presley had another turnover free game against Savannah State. The senior passed for 186 yards on 11 of 17 passing with a touchdown pass. Presley ran seven times for 21 yards and had a touchdown as well. Brian Quick had five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown while Appalachian rushed 44 times for 234 yards on the day. Cedric Baker Boney continues to lead the team with 59 rushing yards a game.
Everything points to this game being one to remember, which will be quite an anomaly considering the series. The last four times Chattanooga beat Appalachian were all by less than 4 points, and all of those games were played in Tennessee. In fact, it has been since 1983, that a Chattanooga team has beaten Appalachian in Boone. Appalachian owns a thirteen game winning streak over the Mocs in Boone. Appalachian has also won their SoCon home opener each year since 1982. History does not bode well for the Mocs, but that is just that. History is in the past. Chattanooga is the most improved team in the conference in the last few years. Chattanooga has always been able to recruit well, but they have not been able to put it together on the field. They finally have a good coaching staff in place and are ready to return to the top of the conference. A win over Appalachian would provide a great boost of confidence to their players, and could spring them into having a very successful season. However, there are some concerns I have for them as a team, especially this week. Chattanooga is starting seven freshman and sophomores on the defensive side of the ball. Three of those freshmen are on the defensive line. We all know that Appalachian will maintain a very balanced offense, working the pass early in order to run as the game wears on. Appalachian has a variety of running backs that all have different qualities. Cedric Baker Boney is the more physical back, while Travaris Cadet is very elusive, and Stephen Miller has speed to burn. The Mountaineers will find out which one of those will work best against that young Moc defense and exploit it. Defensively, I believe the Mountaineers will come out of their shell a bit. BJ Coleman is not your typical dual threat quarterback, but he can buy time in the pocket. The front seven of the Mountaineers must contain the run and force Chattanooga to be one dimensional on offense, and then get in Coleman’s face. Field position can also be huge in this game. Appalachian has probably the best punter in the conference in Sam Martin and Chattanooga’s kicking game leaves a lot to be desired. They rank near the bottom of the conference in net yards per punt, and we all remember the missed extra points last year. This will be a good one, but I see the Mountaineers prevailing in the end.
The First Pick:
Blue Caboose 28