Appalachian State (5-2, 4-0 Sun Belt) vs Massachusetts (1-6, FBS Independent)
Saturday, October 28th, 2017 3:30pm est
TV/Video: NESN/Eleven Sports
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
McGuirk Alumni Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 64.23
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 9 points (rounded)
Sportsbook: App State -4.5
Series: App State leads 1-0
Last meeting: App State 28, UMass 17, December 15th, 2006
The Chanticleers weren’t quitters. They fought hard in a game where they were basically outmatched. After falling in a 14-0 hole, they easily could have rolled over, taken their beating and strutted their way back toward the low country. Not only did they own the second quarter on the way to a halftime lead, they made an ugly score look respectable late in the game. Both teams left points on the field, and for Appalachian, that has become a novel normal. Whether it’s missed field goals or inexplicably attempting a two point conversion, eventually the Mountaineers will suffer from one of these gaffes. Might not be this week, this season, or next, but we as fans must take the good with the bad and trust the work that goes on behind the scenes. Those that work hard every day want to fix it as much as we want it fixed. This weekend presents a different challenge. The Apps step out of conference play and accept a summons from an old friend from a decade ago. A friend without a conference, without a real bowl tie-in and without a true rival they play yearly. The last time these two played, there was quite a bit more at stake, but even then, UMass was the challenger, as they will also be considered on Saturday. They have nothing to lose,, while the Mountaineers need to keep the train on the tracks.
Massachusetts sports a similar look as Coastal Carolina when you glance at their schedule. Sure, Coastal had a couple games where they got beat pretty badly, but the Minutemen have had zero such games. Of their six losses, four were by one possession and two were by ten points. They can hang around. Forget their loss to Coastal Carolina in early September, which seems like ages ago. Every team has a different slant now, especially Appalachian.
The Minutemen have the complexion of some teams that Appalachian has lost to in the past. Look no further than early playoff exits at hands of Villanova and Maine. Now this is not a lazy comparison of teams from the northeastern part of the country that play a different brand of football. Typically, the speed isn’t there, but the size is definitely present. They will not sneak up on you, but they will line up right across from you and force their will. UMass has a 270 pound fullback and a starting offensive line that averages 324 pounds and has only one lineman in the two-deep listed at 6’3″ or shorter. Add to that three tight ends listed at 6’5″ and 250 pounds. Prior to last weekend, this mammoth line had just three 100-yard rushing games to their credit, but exploded for 320 yards last week over Georgia Southern. The flipside of being so big on the line, the Minutemen have given up 32 sacks in seven games.
Massachusetts has played from behind a lot this season, which has actually helped them constantly work on their passing game. But, in the same breathe, they have been very successful in doing so. Typically a team that plays from behind a lot, you’ll see a lot of interceptions thrown. Not with the Minutemen. Their 16 touchdown passes to only two interceptions is pretty astonishing. They like to feed their tight ends who’ll occupy the middle of the field, a spot where App struggled last week to contain Coastal Carolina. They are about as dangerous as an offense can be, they just do not have the results and the confidence to show for it.
Just about every time Taylor Lamb has had a rough game, he responds with an excellent performance and silences the haters. Over the years, Lamb has not received the credit he deserves, as a lot of that gone the way of the defense that backs him up or to his great running backs he has been blessed with. When he was younger, he had to develop chemistry with older receivers, and now that he is the old guy, he’s had to adjust to connecting with younger targets. Lamb is just a baller, plain and simple. If he is called to run, thats what he’ll do. If his arm is needed to save the day, he’s ready for that as well. He was seven yards away from breaking two records set by Armanti Edwards in the same game. Who saw that coming so quickly?
UMass had three weeks to prepare for the beatdown they gave to Georgia Southern last weekend. That is very rare to have that much time between games. They were originally slated to face South Florida, but the game was rescheduled at the request of the American Athletic Conference in the wake of Hurricane Irma. That’s what can happen to you when you do not have a conference. So, UMass gets a mid season break and adds a game at the end of the season with FIU. Generally, I like playing teams that have recently come off of a big game, whether that be their first win of the season, running up a bunch of yards, scoring a bunch of points or being the beneficiary of several turnovers. UMass did all of those things last weekend. They’ll be facing a different kind of team this weekend. Georgia Southern’s struggles have been well documented, and plenty of things were going on off the football field as opposed to on it. App State has had its struggles this season, but for the most part, have overcome for them.. The Mountaineers have shown this season their ability to keep their head down, keep battling, by making adjustments and sticking with the plan. UMass will attempt to confuse the App State running game by stacking the linebackers in the gaps, and it ill be up to App to get to the perimeter as quick as possible. A game played outside the hashes will favor Appalachian. Keep an eye on Marcus Williams Jr with a full week of practice under his belt if Jalin Moore can’t play. Hell give UMass a look they haven’t seen yet.
The First Pick