Appalachian Football @ Clemson

Here we go with Week 2
Appalachian State (1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) @ #12 Clemson (1-0, 0-0 ACC) 

Saturday September 12th, 12:30 PM

TV/Video: ESPN3 

Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WGVZ ESPN 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450, WHKP 107.7 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490, WAZZ 94.3 Fayetteville; WPWT 100.7 Bristol

Memorial Stadium
Surface: Natural Grass
Capacity: 81,500
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:

App State: 64.61

Clemson: 86.55
Home: 2.65

Clemson is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 24.5 points (rounded)

Sportsbook: Clemson -18.5
Series: Clemson leads 4-0
Last Meeting: Clemson 23, App State 12, Septeember 6th, 1997        
Weather: Partly sunny skies with spotty chances for an afternoon shower. Lower 80’s/70

          Occasionally, the results you hope for might not be what is best. As much as a lopsided win can be fun to celebrate it can lead to a false sense of security. It does not hurt to have to endure some adversity along the way. Unfortunately, that adversity can be found off the field. In a few short weeks, the Mountaineers team had been dealt an emotionally difficult hand. As if the loss an ex-teammate due to a senseless act, and a current player lost for a non-football injury were not enough, the Apps were left with news that was unimagineable. The loss that Devan Stringer suffered with the passing of his young daughter is an event no parent prepares for. A tragedy like this reminds us that sometimes the football crossing the goal line is not most important. Look no futher than the words of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson when passing prayers along to Stringer. Watson and Stringer are childhood friends who have been there for each other during tough times. A topic like this is not easy to talk about, but eventually it’s more than just football, it’s about family. 

          By scheduling Clemson, the Mountaineer athletic program will receive a nice pay day of around $900,000 to help fund their other sports. On the other hand, its an opportunity for Appalachian to showcase its name on a national stage. It is also a chance for just over a dozen Mountaineers to showcase their skills in their home state, where Clemson may have overlooked them in the recruiting process. Often these games are scheduled with an easy win for the home team in the back of their minds. Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney has been very public about how he feels about Appalachian this weekend. He knows his team has to be ready for an opponent that is on a roll, given a seven game winning streak spanning since last season. Clemson is young team at several key positions as Louisville lurks in the back of their minds next Thursday night.

          The youth can mostly be found on the offensive side of the ball for Clemson. Left tackle Mitch Hyatt is a true freshman and he will have to deal with Mountaineer senior defensive end Ronald Blair, who has 13.5 career sacks and has started every game he has played in. Sophomore Artavis Scott caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown last weekend against Wofford. Scott led the Tigers in receptions and touchdowns catches as a freshamn in 2014 with 76 catches and eight touchdowns. Scott was also back for punt and kickoff retuns last week. If you can’t tell, Clemson wants to get Scott the ball. Sophomore Wayne Gallam is the starting runningback. He led the team with 92 rushing yards against Wofford.  Gallam also led the Tigers in 2014 with 769 yards rushing. 

         Clemson’s defense is loaded with prototypical size at every position. Their tackles are all 295 pounds or more. The ends are 270, and the defensive backs all tip the scales at 195. You get the point, it’s an impressive unit. Clemson held opponents to 260 yards and 16.7 points in 2014, and didnt miss a beat against Wofford last weekend. Appalachian fans are very familar with how disciplined a team must be to defend the option. Lucikly, Clemson had more than a week to prepare for the wingbone option that Wofford employs, but it may not have mattered. Clemson held the Terriers to 213 total yards, and only 123 of those on the ground. Wofford had only nine first downs in the game, and their lone touchdown came after Clemson muffed a punt. 
          All in all, Clemson and Appalachian had very similar games for their openers. Both teams took care of business in games where they were highly favored. Both scored 49 points, and had their games under control in the early going. Both teams were able to play a lot of players and stay relatively fresh while also not showing the other much of their offense. Scott Satterfield has hinted at adding a couple of different wrinkles for his own offense. While Appalachian prefers an uptempo offense, its backbone is based on ball control. Clemson prefers to get plays off very quickly, giving no time for the opposing defense to rest or get lined up. 

          Marcus Cox did, after all, lead the Mountaineers in rushing on Saturday, but for the most part it was a group effort. Cox had an easy eleven carries for 105 yards, in which most came on a 68-yard touchdown run. In all, nine different Mountaineers carried the ball for total of fifty-six carries. That theme continued from fall camp, where Cox  stepped aside in order to get some of the younger backs some repetitions. Jalin Moore carried nine times for 69 yards and a touchdown. Backup quarterback J.P. Caruso even showed some of his wheels with six carries for 66 yards. In total, 376 yards were racked up on the ground for a team average of 6.7 yards per carry.  

          We move on from Howard, to Howard’s Rock down in Clemson, better known as Death Valley. Clemson has won over 70% of their games at home which include four victories over the Mountaineers. The last time, 1997, I remember riding around Clemson, most likely looking for a place to buy a box of fried chicken, when I heard the Clemson radio shout as they started their pregame. “It’s a beautiful day in Clemson and we are ready to put a whoopin’ on the Mountaineers” I’ll never forget that. If anything, Tiger fans walked out Memorial Stadium wondering just who Appalachian State was. Clemson won that game by eleven points, but it was way to close for comfort. Appalachian’s unspoken motto of “anyone, anyplace, anytime” was never more true that day, as I am sure it will be on Saturday. Clemson has plenty of talent, and will more than likely win this football game, but Appalachian won’t let it come easy. This group of Mountaineers has something special brewing this season. They might have just enough experience and and enough chemistry to make it really tough on Clemson. Taylor Lamb has enough poise to drive this team down the field and score points and there are plenty of Mountaineer weapons in his aresenal. The difference in this game will be how well the Appalachian defense does its job. Clemson likes to get in an offensive rhythm with their quick pace. The Mountaineers must keep everything in front of them to have a chance. I just think Clemson has one too many athletes this weekend. 

The First Pick:

Tigger 38

Mountaineers 24

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