Here we go with Week 5:
#12 The Citadel(3-1, 1-0 T2) @ #2 Appalachian State (2-2, 0-0)
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
Home advantage: 2.87 points
ASU is favored by the Sagarin rankings by 4 ½ points (rounded).
Series: ASU leads 25-11
Last Meeting: ASU 45, Cit 24 November 3rd, 2007
Finally. This will be the first normal game of the year. It appears that the weather is going to cooperate with sunny skies and cool temperatures to go along with a nice mid-afternoon kickoff at “The Rock”. Three games this season have been impacted by some type of poor weather and the other was an away night game. To keep with the normal theme, it will be the first conference game of the season as well. And finally, The Citadel game is back to its somewhat normal scheduling spot of the season by playing as one of ASU’s first conference games of the season. The past two seasons, ASU and The Citadel played in the opening days of November. To break the theme, Homecoming is upon us and that always brings a huge crowd to Kidd Brewer Stadium as some fans make one of their only games of the season.
The Appalachian-Citadel rivalry was a good one for the first 22 games of the series. It was not until the Jerry Moore era that Appalachian started to dominate the Cadets. Appalachian has won four straight games and has taken 13 out of 14 against the Bulldogs. The last year in which the series was competitive was in 1992, which coincidentally was also the last time The Citadel won a game in Boone.
Last year, The Citadel and about half of the conference, were fighting for first place and possible playoffs spots before facing the Mountaineers. The dominating performance by Armanti Edwards and the rest of the Mountaineers diminished any hopes that the Bulldogs had of winning a championship or advancing into post season play. This season will be slightly different as the Bulldogs have already claimed one conference win and the game will be the conference opener for Appalachian. This year will be similar as this game will have early season implications on the playoffs. The Citadel brings in its lofty #12 ranking into Boone, hoping they can upset the Mountaineers before they can find their groove.
Quarterback Bart Blanchard will lead the charge for The Citadel. Blanchard will not a be a surprise to the Mountaineers. Blanchard started against the Mountaineers after starter Duran Lawson suffered a season ending knee injury. Blanchard completed 20 of 36 passes in that game, including one touchdown and one interception for 197 yards. The interception was thrown in the direction of DJ Smith who returned it for a 23 yard touchdown. Blanchard has also been somewhat inconsistent while throwing ball this season compared to last. Although the interception he threw last year was against the Mountaineers, it was the only one for the rest of the season. This year, Blanchard has thrown six interceptions to seven touchdown passes. He threw three in a loss to Clemson and two last week against Western Carolina.
The rest of The Citadel’s offense runs through playmaking wide receiver, Andre Roberts who has caught over a third of the Bulldogs’ completed passes. Roberts is averaging 6.5 catches and 110 yards per game to go along with six total touchdowns. Although never starting a game, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher is Asheton Jordan who has run 48 times for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The Cadets starting tailback is Cody Wilson has amassed on 73 yards on 21 carries.
Appalachian came out of the gates last week against Presbyterian by wanting to establish a passing game. Armanti Edwards threw for 220 yards in the first half alone despite Appalachian dropping numerous passes and drives stalling right as they entered the Blue Hose red zone. A good portion of those yards were supplied by tight end Ben Jordan who hauled in three catches for 97 yards and Devin Radford who caught his only pass for a 72-yard touchdown. Jordan is making some Appalachian fans remember the days of great pass catching tight ends like Daniel Bettis and Frank Leatherwood. With the loss of Devon Moore to injury, Radford added a much need boost to running attack for the Mountaineers. Along with Robert Whelton, the Apps now have a good power and speed combination out of the backfield.
The Mountaineer defense had some struggles against Presbyterian in stopping the passing game. Losing key players on the defensive line and in the secondary forced some very young players to get their first starts. Jabari Fletcher and Lanston Tanyi received some much needed repetitions on the line and Jared Reine and Ed Gainey got work in at cornerback as well. With a younger line and a young secondary all of a sudden, the Apps may go through some growing pains on defense. This is the time when veterans like Pierre Banks and Leonard Love need to step up and serve as leaders on a defense that got real young, real fast.
The one thing you can always count on from teams from a military school is a discipline. They will always be in the right position on offense and defense. What the schools can lack of the loads of athleticism, especially to teams like Appalachian. These men are not trained to win battles on the football field, but on another field of battle. However, the players are capable of doing what it takes to win football games. Although The Citadel’s non-conference schedule was not full of name teams with football rich traditions, they still had to go out and win those games. The heart that was shown by the Bulldogs is coming from behind and beating Princeton at home is something that cannot be measured. However, during the spread offense era of college football, the Bulldogs have simply not had what it takes to keep up with the Mountaineers. Appalachian has beaten the Bulldogs on average by 26 points in the last three games. The reason they have been able to obtain their high ranking is due to preseason media hype and a college football world that has upsets nearly every weekend. In order to prove to the country what they are made of, Citadel has to go out and beat Appalachian in Boone, where they have won 37 of the last 38 games. A minor detail for this game will be the health of Armanti Edwards, who suffered a twisted ankle against Presbyterian. All reports say that the ankle is getting better each day and Armanti expects to play, but in the back of Jerry Moore’s mind, he must be thinking about bringing back Edwards to soon last year against Wofford. That game resulted in ASU’s first loss of 2007. Freshmen DeAndre Presley will be ready to go if needed and he had some great runs last week. Presley runs a little bit lower to the ground then Edwards and dances more compared to Edwards’ long strides. In the past few games against The Citadel, the Apps have been the more physical team up front and have not had to rely on passing the football as much. I expect a game plan where ASU plans to attack the Bulldog front line and wear them down. Cortez Gilbert will be the man to stop Andre Roberts and I think he will be held well below his season average. This one could be a very interesting game in the first half, but ASU should run away with this one as the game wears on.
The First Pick: