Here we go with Week 2:
Jacksonville (1-0) @ #3 Appalachian State (1-0, 1-0 1st)
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
Home advantage: 3.01 points
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 20 points (rounded).
Series: Appalachian leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Appalachian 56, Jacksonville 7, September 6, 2008
Last weekend’s game against Chattanooga was a tale of two halves. Chattanooga won the first half, and Appalachian won the second. Fortunately, for Appalachian, their deficiencies in the first half were overcome by an unprecedented dominance on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter. As the game unfolded, I asked myself: Is it us or is it them? Both? Appalachian was beaten several times by deep passes. At the same time, the Mocs were nowhere to be seen near Appalachian receivers. Eventually, the game was decided by turnovers. Chattanooga lost one more fumble. The Mocs had to play a perfect game. Again they could not accomplish that goal. Missing three point after touchdown attempts and giving Appalachian the ball deep in their own territory twice led to the demise of the Mocs. Despite earning the win, Appalachian is not out of the woods as it welcomes one of the better non-scholarship programs in the FCS to Boone.
The last time the Jacksonville Dolphins came to Boone, they were more in awe of what Appalachian had accomplished in its previous three seasons. Now, they make the trip with intentions of leaving with a win. Jacksonville defeated future CAA member Old Dominion last weekend on the road. It was only the third time in eight seasons that the Dolphins had knocked off a scholarship program.
Jacksonville has a three-headed attack on offense that is led by Walter Payton award candidate Rudell Small, who carried for 118 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win. Two years ago against Appalachian, Small carried for 56 yards on 11 attempts and also caught three passes for ten yards. Quarterback Josh McGregor has already broken five school records in the young history of Jacksonville football. McGregor threw for 311 yards last week against Old Dominion while also tossing three touchdown passes. His favorite target is Josh Philpart who had 6 catches for 115 yards and two touchdown against the ODU Monarchs. Philpart has caught a touchdown pass in nine straight games.
It was apparent for the first few quarters against UTC, that Appalachian was going to run the ball, and that it sorely missed Devon Moore, who is still nursing a couple of injuries from fall camp. In his place, Devin Radford and Cedric Baker were very steady, combining for 129 yards on 23 carries. Baker ran for two touchdowns while Radford benefited from a dehydrated Moc defender, running right at him for a key 50 yard run in the third quarter. Not so steady, was Travaris Cadet, who fumbled a kickoff return that led to a Moc score, and finished with three yards rushing. The good news is that Moore will be back, but I seriously doubt he gets more than ten carries. It is evident that other backs like Cadet and Rod Chisholm could use the work if this game gets out of hand.
The biggest question for the Mountaineers this offseason was answered easily against Chattanooga. DeAndre Presley showed the conference and the rest of FCS football that the Mountaineers were here to stay. Presley was magnificent in the pocket completing over 75% of his passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns. His rushing yardage was not what Mountaineer fans are used to from Armanti Edwards, but it was effective, scoring two more touchdowns. The fact the Presley had spent time at wide receiver last year may have lead to the smartest play of the young season. Facing a third and one at the UTC 29 yard line, Presley whipped a pass to Matt Cline, who fumbled. Presley alertly scooped the fumble and returned it across the field for a touchdown. Presley was credited with the touchdown catch, and provided the go ahead score that proved to be enough to defeat the Mocs. Presley was awarded at the conference and national levels as the player of the week.
This is not the same Jacksonville team that Appalachian played in 2008. They are not here to show up, but to compete. Jacksonville has come off back to back winning seasons and their confidence is growing. Several members of their team played at Kidd Brewer back in 2008, so they will not have big eyes when they come to Boone. The Dolphins have experienced players and a big passing game that will pose some serious threats for Appalachian. In several recent games, the Mountaineers have been exposed by play action passes and the deep ball. This Mountaineer defense supposedly has an attacking style that wants to keep the play in the middle of the field, although that was not seen last Saturday. Pressure on the quarterback is key. Once Appalachian starting turning up the heat last weekend, and believing in themselves, BJ Coleman found himself on his back. Giving up 41 points wont win you very many football games. Although the Mountaineer offense appears as strong as ever, the defense simply cannot depend on the offense to score seven touchdowns every week. They must stiffen up and it starts this weekend against Jacksonville. The team as a whole must put together a complete game before hitting the remainder of the conference slate. I expect that to happen. The Mountaineers rolled up 450+ yards rushing on the Dolphins in 2008, and should have no problem matching that against a very young Dolphin defense.
The First Pick:
King of the Sea 14