Here we go with Week 2:
Jacksonville @ #1 Appalachian State
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
Home advantage: 2.87 points
ASU is favored by the Sagarin rankings by 53 points (rounded).
Series: First Meeting
Last Meeting: n/a
Home sweet home. That thought crossed my mind as soon as I found out about last week’s game being moved up six hours. I knew the rest of the weekend wouldn’t feel right. At that time I was somewhere in Alabama and all I could think about was how the rest of the weekend was going to be a blur. Not enough sleep, not enough tailgating and certainly not enough down time after the game before getting back on the road again. After running away from Gustav and being lazy on Labor Day, all I wanted to do was get back to normal. Get back home, have a week to prepare for a home game where I knew the weather wouldn’t dim my spirits(fingers crossed, thanks Hannah). After the spanking we received from LSU, hopefully it brought everyone associated with ASU back down to earth a little bit. Cloud Nine finally started falling somewhere in the first quarter where ASU looked like a team that couldn’t do too much right. No complaints here, I was on the cloud with everyone else, but LSU was simply more athletic than Appalachian was and made sure they wouldn’t become the second coming of Michigan.
Jacksonville University is somewhat of an unknown to the Mountaineer fan base. The Dolphins have only won 39 games in the existence of the football program, a feat that ASU has easily accomplished in just the last three championship seasons. They will likely start a true freshman quarterback in Josh McGregor, who sparked a dormant offense to 20 second half points in their win over Savannah State. Their best player is probably wide receiver Geavon Tribble who is on pace to break school records in receptions and receiving yards. The leading rusher is Rudell Small who carried for 109 yards on 25 carries. Small was responsible for 68% of the rushing attempts against Savannah State.
The Jacksonville defense may be suspect to the running game. Savannah State had four different players with over 30 yards rushing against the Dolphin defense. However, Jacksonville was able to pressure the Savannah quarterbacks into completing only 10 of 28 passes and forcing one interception. The defense also forced 10 three and outs against Savannah State.
Jacksonville does appear to have some playmakers on its roster. Eight different receivers caught passes. Their punt return average was over 9 yards per return and their kick return average was also decent at 20 yards per return. Another sign of great athleticism is the fact that the interception was returned for 62 yards. Their 21 fist downs and 31 minutes of possession show that they know how to run their offense. Most likely , they will try and chew off as much clock as possible against Appalachian’s high scoring offense.
As previously mentioned, Appalachian struggled mightily against LSU. Both of the LSU lines were dominant. Armanti Edwards didn’t have much time to throw all game long and the Tigers were able to stop the running game before it started. It was only the second time in his career that Edwards attempted over 30 passes in a single game. The 41% completion rate was the worst for any game in his career as well. Defensively, Appalachian couldn’t get a pass rush at all and that made it extremely hard to cover the LSU receivers. LSU also ran for 266 yards on 40 attempts.
If there were any bright spots for ASU against LSU, it was the kicking game. Jason Vitaris connected on kicks of 24 and 44 yards and was also good on his only extra point. The punting game was able to keep LSU from breaking any big returns by punting the ball with plenty of hang time in order for the coverage unit to get down the field and contain or force fair catches. When is the last time we talked about the ASU kicking game in a prediction thread? Just goes to show what kind of game it was for Appalachian.
Just like last weekend, this game will be a game of first for both schools. For Jacksonville, it will be the first time playing a top ranked team in the FCS and will also be the first game against a member of the Southern Conference. For ASU, it will be the first game in the newly expanded Kidd Brewer Stadium which now seats just over 20,000. Depending on the weather, ASU may have its first home crowd with attendance over 30,000. ASU has never lost to a team from the Pioneer League and ASU is 17-2 in home openers under Jerry Moore. Jacksonville is touting ASU as its biggest test in school history, so they will be playing with nothing to lose. The Dolphins have a relatively young team at most of the skill positions and none of their players have played in an atmosphere quite like Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Dolphins will need several breaks to go their way in order to win on Saturday. The 53 point spread is the most lopsided spread since I have been writing the prediction thread. Covering it may be difficult, but ASU will certainly want to make sure they are crisp heading into an off week before the much anticipated game against James Madison. Hopefully Armanti Edwards will play no more than the first half and give way to freshman DeAndre Presley. Most likely you will see lots of rushing yards from the ASU offense, and I will predict at least two players with 100 yards rushing in the game. Although anything can happen on a given Saturday, I am praying for the Dolphins that ASU does not take out all of last week’s frustrations out on them.
The First Pick:
Tuna Salad 10