Here we go with Week 5:
Appalachian State (1-3, 1-0) @ The Citadel (1-4, 1-2)
Time: 2:00 pm
Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WMFR 1230 High Point, Greensboro; WSML 1200, Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnston City; WZGV 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490 Fayetteville; WLON 1050 Lincolnton
Johnson Hagood Stadium
Surface: Natural Grass
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
App State: 49.39
The Citadel: 48.52
The Citadel is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 3.5 points (rounded).
Series: Appalachian leads 29-12
Last Meeting: The Citadel 52, Appalachian 28, September 15th 2012, Boone, NC
WXAPP’s Charleston Gameday Weather Trends:
Mostly Sunny and humid, temps in the mid 80’s at kickoff
For the second time this season, an overachieving team from a perceived lesser conference came to Boone and easily outworked the Mountaineers by playing their style of football to perfection. Three weeks ago, North Carolina A&T lulled Appalachian to sleep with solid defense and won a game of field position while capitalizing on the Mountaineer mistakes. Charleston Southern used a slightly different tactic, but was equally as successful. The Buccaneers’ plan was to take the air out of the ball by running as many play as possible while maintaining possession. Charleston Southern used second downs as a precursor of establishing what they wanted to do on third downs. It was a brilliant plan that worked the game clock to their favor on a massive scale. Winning the time of possession battle is important when you can hold the ball five to six minutes longer than your opponent. When the time of possession gap (24 minutes) is greater than your total time of possession, (Appalachian possessed the ball 18 minutes), it becomes the story of the game. Think about it in a point per possession/minute ratio. The Mountaineers held the ball 18 minutes and scored 24 points. That’s an average of 1.33 points scored per minute of possession. If Appalachian would have held the ball seven more minutes, they would have been more likely to score 32.5 points. Now imagine the same scenario with Charleston Southern, which averaged just two-thirds of a point per minute of possession. Take seven minutes away from their game total and they score right at 22.5 points. That kind of split would still have given the Buccaneers a possession edge of about ten minutes, but also a differential on the scoreboard that would have left them on the wrong end of the game. This provides a perfect example going into a game at The Citadel, which will likely employ a similar strategy of keeping the ball away from Appalachian with their option oriented offense. The Mountaineers have to get off the field, not just on third down, but on any down, by forcing the action to the offense this weekend.
Much of the blame for losing to Charleston Southern is placed on a defense that had trouble containing the running game. We feel the Mountaineer offense is still not holding up to their part of the bargain this season. It’s understandable to see why Appalachian had trouble getting on the scoreboard, considering their lack of possession, but the Mountaineers still averaged 8.3 yards per play. They were moving the ball, but not getting into the red zone often enough, garnering only three trips inside the opponents’ twenty yard line. Two touchdowns and a field goal were scored on those chances, which should have been three touchdowns. A Sean Price drop on the goal line on a third a five stole four points from the Mountaineers that were desperately needed in such a close game. Once again, it’s the little things that have kept the Mountaineers out of the win column for the first third of the season.
Marcus Cox may have cemented himself as the starting running back for years to come with his second straight solid performance. He is extremely versatile as a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. Despite only getting seventeen carries, he was productive with eighty-nine yards and two touchdowns on the ground and another ninety-one yards receiving to go along with another receiving touchdown. That gives him six touchdowns in two weeks as a starting running back. Cox is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and 21.3 yards per catch. He scores a touchdown every 8.625 times he touches the ball and he is only going to get better.
Coming into the season, The Citadel was looking to build on a successful season in 2012 in which they finished 7-4, and had wins over Appalachian State and Georgia Southern on consecutive weekends. Some have called 2013 the most anticipated Citadel season in decades, until they hit the thud that is now a 5-0 Charleston Southern team. Oddly enough, Charleston Southern beat both The Citadel and Appalachian on the road, by three points, in games where they trailed in the second half. The Citadel now sits at 1-4, with their lone win over Western Carolina. Looking at the remainder of their schedule, you can only count two probable wins in games against VMI and Elon. Clemson is likely the only guaranteed loss, while the group of Appalachian, Georgia Southern, Samford and Chattanooga are all games that could go either way.
The Citadel’s offense revolves around the quarterback Ben Dupree, who torched the Mountaineers last year for 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns runs of 57 and 46 yards. The Citadel scored 31 points before Appalachian got on the board and started matching scores for the rest of the game. Dupree leads the team with eighty-one rushing attempts for 383 yards and eight of the team’s fourteen rushing touchdowns. Five of Dupree’s rushing touchdown runs came against Old Dominion, which has been historically known for poor defenses in the few years of their programs existence. The Monarchs have given up 484 yards a game this season, and twenty-four touchdowns to their opponents. Dupree’s three touchdown runs that were not against teams named Old Dominion went for 4, 1, and 1 yards respectively. His touchdown runs against Old Dominion went for 33, 13, 7, 2, and 19 yards. Dupree’s 4.7 yards per carry is decent, but is ballooned by a 6.2 yard per carry average against ODU and Western Carolina. Take out those two games, and Dupree has 29 carries for 108 yards against Furman, Wofford and Charleston Southern. We would like to think Appalachian’s defense is closer to the latter three teams than the previous two teams. The Mountaineers must contain Dupree and disrupt his rhythm. If you can get a quarterback in a triple option offense thinking twice, you have won the down. It only takes one down to get a triple option team behind the chains, and out of sync.
The Citadel defense has held their own this season, ranking second in the SoCon only allowing 183 rushing yards a game and allowing only 4.1 yards per attempt while giving up 26 points per game. The points given up are about average, and are slightly skewed from giving up 59 points to Old Dominion. Where the Bulldogs get in trouble is in their defensive secondary. The Citadel allows 200 yards a game passing, but has faced some run heavy team in Charleston Southern, Wofford and Furman. The Citadel secondary allows opposing quarterbacks to complete 69.2% of their passes including 8.6 yards per attempt. Their pass efficiency defense is dead last in the conference while giving up 47% of their opponents third down conversions. The Mountaineers can be quite dynamic in the passing game with their ability to go over the top with Sean Price and the playmaking of Marcus Cox that can turn any short pass into a long gain. Getting the intermediate passing attack going in the middle of the defense will open up the edge for Appalachian.
All week long, this game feels like another one of those “uh-oh”, “here we go again” games against on offense Appalachian could barely get two hands on last year. The inability of Appalachian to stop the straight ahead run game last week, or the methodical approach of Elon two weeks prior can really make the mind wonder what the Mountaineers are in for. However, if Appalachian wants to win this weekend, we believe it starts on the offensive side of the ball. The longer The Citadel gets to play their style of offense, the more likely they are to win this game. The only way Appalachian is going to be able to force the issue against the Bulldogs is by taking advantage when they have the ball. It is going to be a hot day in the low country, and the Mountaineer defense cannot afford to be on the field for another forty minutes as they were last Saturday. Appalachian must score at will, and at the same time, slow the game down a little bit. Offenses that are high in tempo are all the rage across all levels of football and most teams have been conditioned for it. We believe an old-fashioned grind it out affair will help the Mountaineers work the passing attack into the game slowly, and help the quarterbacks, whether it being Jamal Londry-Jackson or Kam Bryant, to find some open throwing lanes. Something has to give this weekend. Either Citadel wins their first home game of the season, or Appalachian contains the running game. We would like to think the defense will be more prepared for an offense that Nate Woody has seen before. It worked pretty well against Elon, forcing them out of their passing game. Woody’s defenses have beat The Citadel fourteen straight games since 1999, giving up an average of 13.5 points per game, allowing twenty points or more on only three occasions.
The First Pick: