Here we go with Week 3:
Savannah State (0-2) @ #3 Appalachian State (1-1)
TV: GoASU TV
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
Home: 3.08 points
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 49.5 points (rounded).
Series: First Meeting
WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:
Clouds, Fog, Light Rain/Drizzle; “Wedge Event” STAY POSTED
Kickoff: Mid to upper 50’s
No matter the opponent, one of my favorite games of the year is the night game. It brings back great memories of previous night games in Appalachian football history. It is tough to remember them all, but the ones that stand out are the 1994 win over #1 Marshall, the semifinal victory over Richmond in 2007, and the 2008 Halloween thrashing of Wofford. Since then, the night games have not been as memorable, and probably because of the results in 2007 and 2008. The Mountaineers scored 125 points in those two games. The last two night games did not bring the same pizzazz, but you must consider the circumstances. Since then, Appalachian has played Presbyterian in 2008 on a soggy night, and the Citadel’s triple option last year. Unless you are a die hard football fan, sitting in the rain, or watching three yards and a cloud of dust, is not that exciting. Chances are it will not be too exciting this week either, but that does not diminish the opportunity to see the Mountaineers dressed in black under the lights. Now that is what I call a Black Saturday.
Savannah State is another program, much like last week, that is very tough to get a handle on. In their first game, they lost to Division II power Albany State by three, and last week got manhandled by Southeastern Louisiana, a middling program from the Southland Conference. The Savannah State Tigers have only won two games against Division I opponents in the last ten seasons. Just like A&T, Savannah State has a new coach in Steve Davenport, who is the 7th head coach for the Tigers since they moved to Division I in 2000.
Justin Babb is the primary running back for the Tigers. Babb has received 60% of the carries this year for the Tigers, but has only managed 70 yards on 29 carries. Babb has caught a touchdown pass, but Savannah State has yet to record a rushing touchdown as a team. Babb has also thrown a pass this season that fell incomplete. Keep a lookout for the halfback pass this weekend. Quarterback AJ Defilippis is not flashy, but has played mistake free football this season. Despite only completing 41% of his passes, he does have three touchdown passes without an interception, and threw for 315 yards against Albany State.
Appalachian fans got what they expected last Saturday. The lopsided win over NC A&T was punctuated by a balanced offense that racked up 491 total yards. Brian Quick produced a career best game that included 11 catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Cedric Baker-Boney also ran 12 times for 111 yards and a touchdown. Baker-Boney might have made his case to be the starting running back when the conference season begins. Baker-Boney did have one carry that went for 48 yards, but when you take out that carry, and then take his average per carry, it turns out he averaged 5.7 yards per attempt. On the other hand, Travaris Cadet carried seven times for 71 yards. That ten yard average looks good until you take away his 50 yard run. Six carries for twenty-one yards turns into a 3.5 yard per carry average.
DeAndre Presley bounced back and was extremely sharp against A&T. Presley completed 19 of 23 passes for 197 yards, and two touchdowns. The statistic I am most intrigued about Presley is the amount of running he has done while he has been the full time starter. We all remember last year against Elon when Presley suffered a head injury. Before that game, Presley had averaged 14.2 rushes per game. Throw in the East Carolina game in 2009, where he had 12 rushes, and Western Carolina in 2008, 25 rushes, all games that he started, that average goes up. Since the injury against Elon, Presley has averaged 11.1 rushes per game. In two games this year he has 20 carries. Before the injury, Presley carried 15 or more times in four of seven games. Since, he has carried 15 or more times twice in ten games. During this time, the receiving corps and offensive line has been fairly constant. Several questions could be asked about this statistic, but it is one I am going to keep an eye on all season.
We never want to look ahead to the next opponent, but the 2011 schedule is unique. It is fairly obvious that we could have played one of the best teams in the country in Week 1, followed by two of the worst teams the following weeks. The real litmus test will come against Chattanooga. We all know there is no reason to take these three games very seriously, but at the same time, we are hungry as fans, and we want to see something that will excite us. Throughout his glorious coaching career at Appalachian, Jerry Moore has always stressed to win the conference, and the rest, as in the playoffs, will take care of itself. Never before, have I felt like the first three games were like an NFL preseason. We all know about a young offense outside of our All-Americans, and a defense that is adjusting to a new scheme. However, I also get this feeling we are hiding something. We could see some of it this weekend as a teaser for things to come. We could also end up seeing a lot of Jamal Jackson and other younger players. I think it is extremely important to develop those without as much experience. You never know when they are going to be called onto the big stage. Savannah State knows what they are up against on Saturday. The Tigers were outmatched last week, and it will not be any easier this weekend at The Rock. The Mountaineers will be able to name their score and look for another defensive touchdown.
The First Pick:
Jungle Cats 13