Here we go with Week 9:
Chattanooga (5-3, 3-3 T4) @ #7 Appalachian State (6-2, 5-0 T1)
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
Home advantage: 3.31 points
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin rankings by 16 ½ points (rounded).
Series: Appalachian leads 22-10
Last Meeting: Appalachian 49, Chattanooga 7, November 8, 2008
For the second season in a row, Appalachian has survived the conference gauntlet, which may be the last season such a gauntlet exists. Part of the reason is the emergence of Chattanooga as a player in the Southern Conference race. Chattanooga is eliminated from SoCon championship contention, but instead of being at the bottom of the league, they are one of only three SoCon teams with an overall winning record. They have five wins which is as many as they have had since 2005 when they finished 6-5. Chattanooga has announced the to the rest of the conference that they are back and ready to be recognized as a team that is no longer a pushover. Even in the lean years, Chattanooga was always a team that gave Appalachian some trouble. It may be in Appalachian’s best interest that the Mocs have risen from the SoCon cellar, as they have been a game that is generally played later in the schedule, when the Mountaineers start to build momentum for the playoffs.
Another reason that Chattanooga has been successful has been the play of their offense. Tennessee transfer quarterback B.J. Coleman leads the Mocs with 1,710 yards passing and 13 touchdowns. Coleman is your typical pocket quarterback who rarely runs. His favorite target is Blue Cooper, who has 60 catches for 588 yards. Cooper is probably the best receiver in the conference that nobody knows, mainly because he has spent his career at Chattanooga. Cooper had his best game of the season last week with 16 catches for 143 yards in the win over Western Carolina. Earlier in the season, Cooper grabbed 13 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown against Furman. As you can see, Cooper averages 7.5 catches a game, but nearly of his catches this season came in two games.
Probably the most impressive improvements made by Chattanooga have been on the defensive side of the ball. Of Chattanooga’s twenty three sacks, 16.5 have come from their bookends on the defensive line, Josh Beard and Joshua Williams. Beard is the younger brother of Appalachian running back Jerry Beard and leads the team with 10.5 sacks. The Moc defense has also held opponents to only 291 yards of offense per game and held opponents to only 3.5 yards per carry on the ground. They will be tested this week as Appalachian is averaging 513 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry on offense.
Chattanooga grabbed most people’s attention this year when they manhandled #17 Wofford 38-9. However that was before anyone knew that Wofford was as bad as they were. Since then, the Mocs are 2-2, with wins over Samford and Western Carolina, and losses to Elon and Georgia Southern. Three of those four games were on the road, and their losses came on long road trips, while their wins were at home, or closer to home. In those four games, the offense has only averaged 17 points per game.
Appalachian has now moved to 5-0 in poor weather games this year. Four of those games were in the last four weeks and Appalachian is averaging 50 points a game. The pattern this weekend is for the best weather we have seen all season at home. One can only imagine the numbers that the Mountaineers can put up without a wet ball or field. It should be a fast track and that is exactly what the Mountaineers will need against a game Chattanooga team. Armanti Edwards continues to be the reason why the Mountaineers are dominating the Southern Conference once again. Edwards added to his long list of honors as being named the SoCon player of the week, and was also named national player of the week by two different associations. Edwards threw for two touchdowns and ran for four more. Edwards’ 461 yards of total offense was good enough for the fourth highest single game total in Appalachian history.
In this series, Appalachian has dominated in recent memory. Appalachian has allowed two games to get away from them against the Mocs in Chattanooga within the last 10 years. However, the Mocs have not won in Boone since 1983 and Jerry Moore is 18-2 all time against the Mocs. Boone has simply not been very friendly place to visit for Moc football teams. The Mocs are coached by former Richmond defensive coordinator Russ Huesman, who was able to defeat the Mountaineers last year in the playoffs. Huesman has said some things in the last week or so that has grabbed the attention of many Mountaineer fans. He is on record for saying that, he knew his 2008 Richmond team was going to beat Appalachian last year. He has also mentioned that Elon is probably going to win the Southern Conference. These type of comments remind me of another first year head coach in the state of Tennessee, who has had more than his fair share of sticking his foot in his mouth. In the Southern Conference, respect is earned and not given. Games are won and lost on the field, and not a message board or in the newspapers. I think Appalachian fans attend this game with a little chip on their shoulder. I think they will be extra rowdy this weekend seeing that the season’s goal is in the near future. In the past weeks, Chattanooga has been average. They are road weary and their offense is simply not explosive enough. Seventeen points and 300 yards of offense simply will not beat Appalachian at Kidd Brewer. Despite the potential loss of CoCo Hillary, I don’t think the Mountaineers miss a beat on offense. They are plenty of players who bust their tail each week in order to see playing time and now is their time to step up and show the world what they can do. Chattanooga will have to take to the air to win this one and I do not believe the Mocs offensive line can hold back the Mountaineer pass rush all day. They Mountaineers will win, but the Mocs will make it interesting early.
The First Pick: