Samford @ Appalachian Football
Here we go with Week 6:
#23 Samford (4-2, 2-0) @ Appalachian State (1-4, 1-1)
Time: 3:30 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
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
App State: 49.21
Samford is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 4 points (rounded).
Series: Appalachian leads 6-1
Last Meeting: Appalachian 28, Samford 25, October 13, 2012, Birmingham
WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:
Partly cloudy skies with mostly sunny skies possible. Dry. Temps in the mid 60’s for most of the game. Great weather expected.
The same results are beginning to become more annoying with each passing week. The Mountaineers may be getting closer to the desired result, but the pain of getting to that moment is also becoming more excruciating. A third game in a four week span was decided by three points. This time, an overtime period was played after Appalachian was in a calm control of the game in the first half. The Mountaineers were looking good, with a 14-7 lead in the late stages of the first half. Appalachian was to receive the second half kickoff. The Mountaineers had plenty of time to work a drive, kill some clock and at minimum, put the Citadel in a position where they were not going to possess the ball with the likelihood of scoring. After two plays, Kam Bryant fumbles deep on the Mountaineer side of the fifty yard line, and gives the Citadel prime real estate and clock in which to score. The Citadel tied it at half, and got themselves back in control of the game on the backs of another costly Mountaineer mistake. To open the second half, Appalachian punished The Citadel, lining up for a total of thirteen plays on offense, but the drive amounted to zero points. Two plays later, The Citadel was in the end zone again, this time with a seven point lead. Take away that fumble, and this game ends differently. It was a game changer. Appalachian could have gone up two or three scores before giving the ball back to the Bulldogs in the third quarter, but instead, turned it over once by fumbling and a second time on downs. It was a near identical script to North Carolina A&T, which was a product of not getting in the end zone enough on offense, which kept the Mountaineers from being winners.
The Mountaineers took a step forward against The Citadel, when Scott Satterfield went with sophomore Kam Bryant to start the game. That was the right decision that should have been made a couple games before. It has to be incredibly tough to tell your senior quarterback that he will not be getting the ball to start the game. Jamal Londry-Jackson should be familiar with this script. He was on the other end of it two seasons ago, when he took over for a senior in De’Andre Presley who had lost his confidence and gained a fear of being subjected to defenses who could do what they wished to a below average Mountaineer offensive line. Appalachian is in the business of winning football games, and right now, the best man to lead this team is Kam Bryant. An occasional Bryant fumble, or interception, will not be welcomed, but it will be tolerated in the learning process. Bryant needs to make the strides now to be better situated for the years to come.
Take away the fumble at the end of the first half, and the interception in overtime in which he was trying to make a play, Kam Bryant played just about as well as you could imagine in his first college start. Bryant completed 19 of his 23 pass attempts and moved the ball well enough when he decided to run. Bryant has now completed 72% of his passes on the season for 900 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant will start again this weekend, and outside of an injury or terribly bad game, should play every series in our minds. Too much pressure can be placed on quarterbacks if they believe any mistake could cost them playing time. It’s better to make the mistake and correct it quickly on the next drive. Otherwise, that fumble, or bad throw will always haunt you.
Marcus Cox continued to Marcus Cox things on the football field last weekend. Once again, he was dangerously close to century mark in both rushing and receiving yards, coming up a total of 7 yards shorts over the two categories. Cox led the team with seven receptions and scored two touchdowns on the ground on a total of twenty six touches. He averaged 7.4 yards per touch. Cox now has 813 total yards on the season and ten total touchdowns.
In the past, Samford has typically been a tough team to play. Even though the Mountaineers have not lost to Samford in SoCon play, very few games have been easy. Last year the Mountaineers needed a late score to prevail. The games in 2010 and 2011 included final scored that were both 35-17. Samford hung around in 2009 for a 20-7 setback during a game that was dominated by the rain. In the years, that Appalachian had some great offenses in the last half decade, Samford never once allowed more than 35 points to the Mountaineers, but did give up 35 points on three occasions. Samford entered the Sports Network Top 25 this week for the first time since last season, which was also the same week before they played the Mountaineers.
Samford returns a lot of their same weapons from a year ago. Fabian Truss the leading running back who carried a heavy workload in the early part of the season. Truss has carried 102 times on the season, but only 34 times in the last three games. Last weekend against Georgia Southern, Truss had his best game of the season, with 125 yards and two touchdowns on only 14 carries. The Mountaineers kept Truss in check last season, giving up only 46 yards on 18 carries. Quarterback Andy Summerlin has thrown for 1300 yards and ten touchdowns in last three games alone. Prior to this three week stretch, Summerlin had not gone over 200 yards passing in the season’s first three games. Samford has found more offense and better results with Summerlin throwing the ball more, which is somewhat out of character for a Samford team that has preferred a run heavy offense. Kelsey Pope has also been tearing it up the last three weeks. Pope leads the team with twenty-five catches on the season, with fifteen coming in the last three games. Of his 441 receiving yards on the season, nearly 88% of them (384) have come in the last three games.
Seeing Samford sitting atop of the SoCon standings is weird looking to say the least. Their two conference wins were both at home, a blowout win over Western Carolina and a ten point win over Georgia Southern. The Samford offense has been noticeable more potent in the last three games than the seasons first three games. The difference has been the Bulldogs playing at home. Although the difference in playing at home resulted in only one more win on the schedule, it did result in 20 more points scored per game. Scoring six to eight points more at home is a big deal. Twenty is insane. A lot these points have come via the big play, something Appalachian has struggled with all season long. Five touchdowns against Western Carolina came on plays of 25 yards or longer. Against Georgia Southern, the Bulldogs produced three touchdown passes over 50 yards. Two more touchdown passes against SE Louisiana were over forty yards. The point is clear. The Mountaineers have to avoid the big play. Appalachian has done well to avoid the big pass play this season, but that is because other teams have not had the need to pass on Appalachian to move the ball. This will be a big test for Appalachian as the weather is expected ideal for throwing conditions this weekend. The Mountaineers may benefit from Samford experiencing much cooler weather during the game as a colder, harder football is not as easy to catch. Appalachian ran the ball well last week at times, but a bigger commitment to the run is needed to keep Samford off the field. Samford gives up over 200 yards a game on the ground and 4.5 yards per attempt to opposing teams. Appalachian needs to make that commitment to give Bryant the throwing lanes he needs. If the Mountaineers fall behind by a big margin early, it could be serious trouble. The best chance the Mountaineers have of winning this game is feeding Marcus Cox and others in the running game by making the Samford defense chase.
The First Pick:
More Bulldogs 24