Here we go with Week 5:
#5 Appalachian State (3-1) @ #24 Elon (2-1)
Surface: Natural Grass
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
Home advantage: 2.93 points
ASU is favored to win by 10 points
Series: ASU leads 25-9-1
Last Meeting: ASU 45, Elon 21
Everyone expected Appalachian State’s record to be 3-1 going into this weekend’s battle at Elon. Nobody could have realistically imagined how the Apps would get there though. Wofford executed every play nearly perfectly. If the schools play again later this year, Wofford will try to do the same exact things to win again. Forget about it. You cannot dwell on the past in college football. That is probably what lost ASU the game at Wofford. We all possibly guilty of celebrating the Michigan win a week longer than we should have. We were all definitely spoiled, watching our team take the field 17 times in a row and coming out on top in all those games. It was bound to happen. One team was going to figure it out. Wofford figured it out on Saturday. Big deal. You must move on and get ready for the next team that is going to try to beat you. Elon is going to try to kick the Apps while they are down. That is the question. Are the Apps “down“? Did Wofford write the book on how to defeat the 2007 Mountaineers? Is the defensive line too inexperienced? Saturday will tell the tale.
Elon has been waiting for this moment for a long time. They have not been waiting since last year, or the year before that. They have been waiting since 1964 for this moment. That was the last time an Elon football team defeated Appalachian State. None of the players were born on either side. Even Elon coach Pete Lembo had not been born. You can imagine its been a long time coming. Its been 11 games and 43 years. Are the Phoenix going to be the second team in as many weeks to snap a Mountaineer streak?
The ASU defense has to prepare for a totally different offense this week. Elon is as pass happy as it gets. Instead of facing a 3 year starter and senior, the Apps will have be given the task to shut down a freshman quarterback. Scott Riddle isn’t just any freshman, he leads the nation with 313 yards passing yards a game. His favorite target is All-America candidate Terrell Hudgins who has hauled in 38 catches for 453 yards. Riddle hooked up with Hudgins on all of his touchdown passes in the win against Liberty.
Everyone wants to know: Where is Kevin Richardson? We are all waiting for #28 to have his breakout game. I can sit here and write each week that this is the game where it happens. Either way, I look good when he does. I plan to dig deeper than just saying, “This week is it”. In his career, Richardson has carried the ball 45 times against Elon for 242 yards. That breaks down to about 80 yards a game and about 5.4 yards a carry. Richardson has also caught 9 passes for 92 yards. Easy math there, 3 catches a game for about 31 yards. Four rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in all against the Phoenix. Last year, Elon was the fifth game of the season and Richardson’s first 100 yard effort of the season. Richardson is still 760 yards away from John Settle’s career record as ASU.
The hot topic around Boone these days keeps getting hotter each week. With Armanti Edwards re-injuring his shoulder against Wofford, the debate continues. Who will be ASU’s starting quarterback against Elon? Some will say that the offense seems to be in better sync right now with Trey Elder. Some say that Armanti should not play until his arm is completely healed. It makes for very interesting conversation. Armanti surely has his talents that involve using his speed and quickness to elude defenders for extra yardage. Trey has a better looking throw, which bodes well if ASU is forced to air it out. Is Trey Elder a better quarterback at 100%, than Armanti Edwards at 80%. Another piece of the puzzle to throw in there, is that Armanti has only played in two games thus far this year, and is still eligible for a redshirt. If Armanti cannot play this week, then most would think his services would not be needed against Gardner Webb. After Homecoming is the bye week. That gives Armanti a possible 4 weeks of rest before the Georgia Southern game. By then, some think that offense should be kicking into gear right around then: Why mess things up by switching quarterbacks? Either way, Elon is going to have to prepare for the both of them.
Like I have mentioned, Elon is ready for the chance to knock off ASU. Elon has been up and coming ever since coach Pete Lembo stepped on campus. Lots of the players on these rosters played against each other in high school. Elon is ready, plain and simple. ASU has not lost back to back games in a long time. Expect the Apps to take out all their frustrations on the Phoenix. The tone of this game will be set from the start. Whoever gets the ball first will likely go down the field and score on the first drive. From then, it will be a track meet. A team has not been able to consistently stop the Mountaineer attack. Once again, turnovers will play a major role. Appalachian lost the momentum against Wofford due to untimely turnovers. Appalachian must pressure the quarterback early and often. Elon’s line gives up 3 sacks a game. Where the Apps must try to take advantage of Elon is in the running game. Elon only allows 95 yards a game on the ground, but they have not been tested the last two weeks due to jumping out to big leads and forcing other teams to play from behind. It will be interesting to see if Elon has any success in the running game. ASU has been giving up 220 yards a game on the ground. Elon is ranked 99th in the nation in rushing yardage per outing (101.3). I think Appalachian will respond this week. The team better be fired up. I would have hated to been in practice this week. The weather should be a little more cooperative. The heat in Spartanburg was tough for anyone associated with the game to deal with. ASU must get the running game going and keep Elon on the sideline. The passing game is all about rhythm and if Elon catches that it early, it may be impossible to stop. Last week was not easy and this week shapes up to be another tough outing.
The First Pick:
The Birds 31