Here we go with Week 10:
#9 Appalachian State (6-2) @ The Citadel (5-3)
Johnson Hagood Stadium
Surface: Natural grass
Jeff Sagarin ratings:
Home advantage: 2.28 points
ASU is favored to win by 9 points
Series: ASU leads 24-11
Last Meeting: ASU 42, CIT 13
As each week passes, it seems as though another Mountaineer has succumbed to some type of injury. The list is so long, it is not even worth it to begin naming names and their ailing limbs. The Mountaineers have fought hard, digging deeper each week, longing for another victory. Through the ups and downs, ASU has refused to blame a loss on their health, rather their execution. This week, the injury bug has bitten the Mountaineers opponent in a major way. Citadel quarterback Duran Lawson slightly tore his meniscus in his knee, the same knee that he had reconstructive surgery on in 2005. Lawson has been listed as doubtful. What is not doubtful, is the heart and soul that The Citadel will play with on Saturday. That is what you get when you play against a military school. They will not lay down because they have lost the services of their leader. No matter the situation, Citadel players will keep their heads high and they will fight another day.
Considering the injury to Duran Lawson, the Citadel just lost 302 yards of total offense. The man that will be given the chance to make up for those yards is redshirt freshman Bart Blanchard who is responsible for 56 total yards of offense. Talk about some big shoes to fill. The more likely candidate to receive more touches this week is senior running back Tory Cooper, who is averaging 94 yards a game on the season and 13 rushing touchdowns. The only games in which Cooper did not find the end zone were Wisconsin, Wofford and Georgia Southern, all losses. Cooper also has caught 28 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Another weapon of the Bulldogs is receiver Andre Roberts, was has caught 54 passes for 657 yards and has averaged 11.3 yards per punt return. Appalachian will need to shut down either Cooper or Roberts on Saturday. If they both have big days, it could overcome the loss of Lawson.
Appalachian State played an almost flawless first half against Furman. The Apps were able to get up and down the field with long drives and also kept Furman’s running game in check. Armanti Edwards had another solid performance with 126 yards rushing and 211 yards passing, and most importantly his first game of the season without an interception. Kevin Richardson also ran well as he tacked on another 124 yards rushing. The ASU defense climbed to 7th nationally in tackles for loss with 9 such tackles against the Paladins.
This games appears to be one two high powered offenses ready for a shootout. Both teams allow the same points per game and score within a couples points of each other on offense. Citadel appears on paper to be the best defensive team in the conference. However, the Bulldogs have not faced the Southern Conference’s highest rated passing team in Elon yet. The Citadel also faced a non conference schedule that had team that were very run oriented. The offense Citadel runs is based on holding onto the ball and keeping it out of their opponents hands. Appalachian needs to stay awake on defense and force the Bulldogs into long yardage situations.
The loss of Duran Lawson will certainly hurt Citadels’ chances this weekend. The fear of the unknown is what could hurt Appalachian. Bart Blanchard is just that. We have no idea what kind of game Blanchard plays. Some would think that Blanchard will receive some conservative play calling. That thinking could lead the Mountaineers into trouble. Blanchard could come out slinging the ball all over the field and that could result in a quick score. We shall see on Saturday. The one thing the Mountaineers must do is take advantage of their opportunities. I knows I stress this every week, but it is very important in football. When you get a drive going , make sure you get some points out of it, or at least force the other team to have bad field position. When you have an offense in 3rd and long yardage, make them punt. I’ll say it again, when you have the ball, put it in the end zone. That is the difference between winning and losing. It seems no team in the Southern Conference has a good defense, but that is not the reason for all the scoring. When team have to face Armanti Edwards, Jayson Foster, Duran Lawson, Renaldo Gray and Scott Riddle week after week, it is going to cause problems. The Bulldogs play extremely well at home and they will most likely play harder this week because its homecoming. I think the Apps have enough in the tank to inch by the Bulldogs before finishing out the regular season at The Rock. The ASU defense will rise to the occasion and hold The Citadel to 100 yards below the season average.
The First Pick:
The Mad Mountaineers 38
Wrinkled Faces 31