Appalachian Football @ Georgia

Here we go with Week 10:

Appalachian State (2-7, 2-4 SoCon) @ Georgia (5-3, 4-2 SEC)

Time: 12:30 pm

TV/Video: ESPN GamePlan, ESPN3

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

Sanford Stadium

Surface: Natural Grass

Capacity: 92,746

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

App State: 48.73

UGA: 83.93

Home: 3.49

Georgia is favored by the Sagarin ratings by38.5 points (rounded).

Series: First Meeting

Last Meeting: n/a

WXAPP’s Athens Gameday Weather Trends

Mostly Sunny, Lower 60’s at kickoff, Mid 60’s by the end of the game

            Growing pains are never easy. Sometimes the same mistakes are made over and over and learning from them is easier said than done. The Mountaineers seem to be repeating history with each passing loss. With a team full of freshmen, mistakes are unavoidable. Making mistakes are what they do more often than making the right play or read. Saturday’s loss was a good game to watch from a football perspective, but not from a black and gold point of view. The difference was the turnovers. Both teams turned the ball over once with the Mountaineers offense sputtering with a punt following their takeaway. Chattanooga took advantage on their interception, by returning it for a touchdown. Unfortunately, that was the difference on the scoreboard. Another crummy way to end a game, by letting it slip away late. There is no cure to being young, other than dealing with it. At this point in the season, we are almost at a loss for words. Going back to drawing board is getting old, but still a necessity. This week the Mountaineers have to dig real deep, and look for some motivation as they travel to one of college football’s most mystical stadiums for a battle in which they are severely overmatched. Georgia is constantly stocked with some of the best talent in the country at all positions, but has had plenty of issues having one of those truly special teams over the years. They are comparable to those Appalachian teams prior to national championships as they are never an easy win and always considered one of the best. Finally these two schools will face off after the game being moved to different seasons on two occasions. We’ll just say the Dawgs were avoiding the Mountaineers, waiting until the time was right.

            It has been difficult seeing Appalachian struggle to stop a team that is dependent on aspect of their game. Many games this season, the Mountaineers could have focused on one player to contain defensively and it would have dramatically increased their chances of winning. Jacob Huesman did to the Mountaineers almost exactly what Darien Robinson of The Citadel did. He didn’t force the action, and let the game come to him. Nothing Chattanooga did last week was special in the least bit. Huesman ran endlessly it seemed, always getting enough yards to move the chains and shorten the game. He averaged 8.2 yards per rush, while the remainder of the Mocs averaged 3.2 yards per carry. The Mountaineers couldn’t contain him. Huesman didn’t throw a lot, but when he did, it was worked well enough to keep the defense honest. Huesman completed thirteen passes to seven different receivers and both of his touchdown passes were over twenty yards.

            The Mountaineers looked decent on offense, but unlike the previous week, they could not hit the big play in the passing game with regularity. There were a couple twenty yard plays, but the thirty, forty and fifty yard gains were absent. Kam Bryant continued his streak of being incredibly accurate. He completed 72% of his passes in the game, which actually lowered his completion percentage for the season. Bryant has completed 73.2% of his passes on the season, and if he keeps pace for three more games, would break a record that goes all the way back to 2009, when Armanti Edwards completed 68% of his passes for the season. Bryant has now thrown a touchdown pass in seven straight games and has eclipsed 250 yards passing for the third straight game. Marcus Cox continues to churn out the yards. His 29 carries were the most in a game in his short career, and fell one yard short of tying his career high in rushing yards in a game with 158 on the ground. Cox scored three touchdowns, another career high for a single game, and now has fourteen combined scores on the season.  Cox is 296 yards away from breaking the school record for rushing yards in a season by a freshman, which is also held by Armanti Edwards when he ran for 1,153 yards in 2006. Edwards had the benefit of playing in three more games than Cox will this season.

            Georgia entered the season ranked fifth by the Associated Press and were considered by many to be a national championship contender. That goal took a small hit when they lost on opening weekend to then #8 Clemson and the injury bug caught up with them midseason in stunning losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt in consecutive weekends. In Georgia’s first four games, they were averaging 42 points a game, and since then have fallen to just under 27 points per contest in their last four games. The Dawgs needed overtime in Knoxville to get past Tennessee and a game winning drive last week in the fourth quarter to defeat Florida. The Bulldogs have played fourteen true freshmen this season at some point, and ten of those have been on the defensive side of the ball. In the defensive secondary, Georgia has used five different lineups in eight games. In all, Georgia has started 17 different players for the first time of their career this season.

             The Georgia injuries have not been as plentiful on the offensive side of the ball, but they have hit the Bulldogs in some very key places. The one that has gained the most attention is tailback Todd Gurley, who is likely to play this weekend. Gurley is going to be a problem for the Mountaineers if he is at full strength. He is only a sophomore and list of accolades are already a career’s worth of work for any average player. The most important superlative that stands out: Gurley is only the second Georgia running back to gain 1,000 yards as a freshman. The other guy was Herschel Walker. Gurley is a sure fire draft pick, likely the first running back taken, whenever he decides to leave school. He is 6’1 and 232 pounds and has 4.4 speed as well. Appalachian has to hope he is limited, or that the Bulldogs try to save him for #7 Auburn the following week.

            As if Gurley was not enough offense, the Dawgs also have Aaron Murray at quarterback, who is one touchdown pass away from tying Danny Wuerffel’s SEC career record. Murray has been a four year starter and is another future NFL draft pick. Murray has 18 touchdown passes in eight games this season and will likely get a huge roar from the Bulldog faithful when he breaks that record on Saturday. Murray and his offense have been quick starters all season, scoring nearly a third of their points in the first quarter. However, Georgia’s offense tails off as the game wears on. Sixty percent of their points scored this season have come in the first half of games. Meanwhile, the Georgia defense has had trouble finishing in either half this season, giving up 64% of their points in the second and fourth quarters. If the Mountaineers want to compete, they must find a way to get the offense going early, and keep the Bulldogs at bay at the start of the game. Recent FBS games at Florida and Virginia Tech may remind Appalachian fans how important it is to get off to a good start. In both of those games, the Mountaineers were steamrolled by the end of the first quarter. In neither of those games did Appalachian score a meaningful touchdown. That is the basics of this game on Saturday. Appalachian must avoid the early onslaught and contain Georgia as best they can. The Bulldogs are so young and hobbled on defense and the Mountaineers must attack on offense, especially in the passing game. Marcus Cox might be the key for the Mountaineers though. It is doubtful we see another game with close to thirty carries, but he needs to be effective enough to keep Georgia and their defensive line away from Kam Bryant. The Bulldogs have sacked opposing quarterbacks 23 times this season, which is second in the SEC. Georgia does give up 7.5 yards per pass play, and 31.6 points per game on the season, which are both dead last in the SEC. Both teams are in the red on turnover margin, the Bulldogs giving the ball up six more times than their opponents and the Mountaineers are three in the hole. Georgia most likely will win this game going away, but Appalachian will have their chances to stick around and keep the Georgia faithful uneasy.


The First Pick:

Hair of the Dawg        42

Mountaineers              21

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