Here we go with Week 6
Appalachian State (3-2, 1-0 Sun Belt) @ UL-Lafayette (2-3, 1-1 Sun Belt)
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 8pm EST
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 870 AM, 100.7 FM Bristol/Johnson City, TN
Surface: Pro Grass Synthetic
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 70.22
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 13 points (rounded)
Sportsbook: App State -10
Series: App State leads 2-0
Last meeting: App State 28, Louisiana 7, November 28th, 2015, Boone
This feels like the longest bye week in recent memory, yet all of a sudden, it has ended really quickly. Games played on a Wednesday are totally different than a game on a Thursday. The Mountaineers will get two long breaks between games in October, compared to last season, when Appalachian was dealt a hand that sandwiched a Halloween game between two Thursday night games. Eleven long days will have passed before kickoff on Wednesday, and then another half fortnight before the next kickoff at home vs Idaho. This will be the first time Applachian will have dealt with such a schedule, whereas Louisiana is slightly more familiar with a true midweek game. Louisiana lost twice last season in midweek games, both on the road. The Cajuns won two mid week games in 2014, and two out of three such games in 2013. That experience by the Cajun coaching staff will certainly be in their favor compared to the Mountaineers. You can count Appalachian’s midweek games on one hand. Two of those games have come against Gerogia Southern, and the other against Arkansas State. The Mountaineers, in their third road game of the season, will need to retain copious amounts of energy for this primetime conference fight on national television in order to keep pace in the Sun Belt.
The biggest issue facing the Cajuns coming into this game is the overall health and experience of their defense. The defensive line has been decimated with injuries; too many to list here. The linebackers are really solid and experienced while the secondary is their major weakness. The Cajuns have had to backfill with junior college transfers and they have been abused to the tune of 298 passing yards allowed a game. Only five schools surrender more yards in the air. Remember the terrible Akron secondary? The Cajuns are worse. The 11 touchdown passes they have given up occured in four games, and they have also allowed 260+ passing yards in four of five games. Just to be clear, the Cajuns haven’t given up one or two big days to skew the statistics, they have been equally horrendous for the better part of the young season.
This Cajun team isn’t far off from having a really nice season. Forget their 2-3 record. They lost two overtime games on the road their last times out and their first loss, Boise State, is now 5-0 and ranked 15th in the AP Poll. However, the Cajun losses are pretty easily explained. Anthony Jennings, the Louisiana State graduate transfer, has thrown six interceptions in his last three games. The Cajun defense has allowed a 92% score rate while defending the red zone, with half of those going for touchdowns. They are giving up nearly five red zone possessions per game at the same time.
This season for the Cajuns really has to be put into perspective. They have now lost in consecutive years to New Mexico State. Numerous wins were stripped of the program in the off season, including two bowl victories. They lost to Tulane despite throwing an 0/16 on third downs to the Green Wave offense, but were -3 in the turnover department. Lousiaina rolled up 256 yards rushing against South Alabama and still managed to escape by just five points. This team can put up some yards, and they have athletes all over the field, but their discipline, whether it be game flow, time of possession, whatever, just is not quite there to be a consistent winning football team.
It has been awhile since we’ve been able to review the Georgia State win. The most important part, was another win in the Sun Belt. After three seasons, the Mountaineers have allowed 6 points to Georgia State. The defense corralled four interceptions, and shut down any threat from the Panthers. The Taylor Lamb led offense once again, did just enough to get by. After a scoreless first half, Jalin Moore housed another long touchdown run, and the offense put the game on ice with a decisive fourth quarter touchdown drive to keep the Panthers at bay.
Back to the scene of the crime in 2014. The Mountaineers were fresh off a win over Arkansas State, and the season that started 1-5 had come full circle. The Mountaineers thumped Louisiana 35-16, and obtained their sixth win, a huge milestone for the first year in FBS football. Louisiana had been bowling for three straight years and were the class of the Sun Belt. At that point in time, it was the most impressive win for Appalachian in its short FBS history. Fast forward nearly two years, and it’s arguable that the roles have been reversed. It’s the Cajuns that are teetering, with an 8-11 record since that initial loss to the Mountaineers. Anthony Jennings was supposed to be a good quarterback for Louisiana. He was close to getting benched against New Mexico State, before reserve quarterback Jalen Nixon broke his ankle. Now Mark Hudspeth is stuck with a guy who lost his job at Lousiana State, and would have lost it again if not for an injury. The entire game for Louisiana starts with him. I know, Elijah McGuire is a good running back, but his presence will not be felt if Jennings cannot get it going at some point. If the Mountaineer defense can beat Jennings, the Apps will win. It does not matter to me right now who starts at running back for Appalachian. The Cajuns will give up the most yards on the ground that they will have surrendered this season, and the Mountaineers will hit just enough plays in the passing game to gut out a win.
The First Pick
Green Peppers 20