Appalachian Football @ Texas State

Appalachian State (4-1, 2-0 Sun Belt) vs Texas State (1-7, 1-3 Sun Belt)

Saturday, November 7th, 2020 3:00pm EST

TV/Video: ESPN+

Radio: Boone/Blowing Rock: WATA 1450 AM & 96.5 FM; North Wilkesboro/Hickory/Charlotte WKBC 97.3 FM; Asheville WZGM 1350 AM; Hendersonville WHKP 107.7 FM & 1450 AM; Charlotte/Gastonia WCGC 1270 AM; Charlotte/Rock Hill WAVO 1150 AM; Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point WSJS 101.5 FM & 600 AM

Bobcat Stadium

Capacity: 30,000

Surface: FieldTurf

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 78.22

Texas State: 57.30

Home: 1.87

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 19.05 points

Line: App State -17.0

Series: App State leads 5-0

Last Meeting: App State 35, Texas State 13, Boone, NC November 23, 2019

Getting up for Louisiana-Monroe and Texas State might be tough, but having them in consecutive weeks might be helpful. The Mountaineers are fully aware that last week was a “get up and get out” kind of game. No need to embarrass your opponent. Score a few points, sit back and watch the defense ball out and move on. Those type of games are also perfect practice to hone the craft and work on the small details in the film room to prepare for the next game. Texas State has equally struggled sometimes on both sides of the ball, and their record looks very similar to Monroe. Nonetheless, they are a dangerous team, that is hungry to get things turned around and have made some strides, but are running out of time. You just don’t know what kind of team you will be dealing with. Teams with nothing to win also have nothing to lose. App State can not win a conference championship this weekend, but they can take the next step in achieving that goal. The next mission is keep all of that energy focused into one sixty minute segment of football at a time.

Last week, we could firmly say that Monroe was a team that looked like their record. The same cannot be said about Texas State. Of course, at the end of the day, your record is what you are, but the Bobcats are not playing like a 1-7 team. That was evident from the beginning of the season when they gave Southern Methodist more than a good scare in just a seven point loss. That was followed by a coin-flip double overtime loss to UT-San Antonio, and a win over Monroe. Then the Bobcats travelled to Chestnut Hill and gave Boston College all they could handle. Texas State took a one touchdown lead into the fourth quarter, but could not hold on. In the opening games against the Power Five opponents, Texas State was able the run the ball well enough to keep the score reasonable, they just could not execute in the closing moments on both sides of the ball. In October, the Bobcats were less competitive, losing all four games by more than ten points, giving up at least 30 points in each contest, for an average of over 40 points allowed in the month.

Separating the first four games and the second four games, you see that Texas State only ran the ball for a few less yards per game, but the passing efficiency is really the key here. Texas State threw for at least 227 yards or more in each of the first four games, but has only eclipsed 200 yards passing once in the most recent quartet of games. In addition, the Bobcats threw ten touchdown passes in the first half of the season, but only five since then. Have they played better than the past? Yes. Are they playing better right now? That answer is up for discussion. Running back Brock Sturges is playing better with opportunity. Sturges had a season high seventeen carries last week in the loss to Louisiana, which he turned into 128 yards and two touchdowns, also season highs. Sturges had only carried the ball eight times a game in each of the last three contests. Calvin Hill is a freshman running back that gets passing game work, with sixteen receptions on the season. Hill’s rushing attempts have decreased as the season has worn on, averaging a little over twelve carries a game in the first four games, and just a shade over seven carries in the last four games.

Texas State been forced to use two quarterbacks for most of the 2020 season. Tyler Vitt and Brady McBride have each played in six games, but the Bobcats have played in eight, so you see the issue. Quarterback play and continuity concerns usually lead to a struggling offense. It may be apparent that McBride has emerged as the long term starter, but Coach Spavital mentioned in media availability on Wednesday that the position has been opened back up. Seeing Vitt would be surprising this weekend, because he has not faired well against App State in the past. Vitt threw for 154 yards and an interception against App in 2019, and 106 yards and an interception two seasons ago. Back to McBride, a Memphis transfer with two more years of eligibility remaining under normal circumstances. His statistics do not look good on paper, but he has the best chance to become a multi-year starter. McBride has thrown interceptions in four of six games played, and have racked up five interceptions in the last two weeks. This may be why Texas State suddenly has a quarterback competition again. That does not bode well facing an App State defense with eight interceptions on the season, and has been defending pass catchers as well as any unit in the country.

Last week was a pretty ho-hum effort by the Mountaineers. It was not too flashy, but it also did not need to be. The workmanlike effort filtered all the way down to Zac Thomas leading the team in rushing with 109 yards. The Mountaineers continue to spread the wealth on offense in both facets of the game. Six players caught passes and seven different Mountaineers got a carry. Of the primary ball carriers, four players split forty-four carries, with Marcus Williams Jr leading the team with just thirteen carries. The real story for App State this season is the play of the defense. Despite allowing a late touchdown that was inconsequential to the final result, App State is allowing a miniscule 17.6 points per game across the season. Teams are only rushing for 122 yards per game and opposing offenses are averaging just 4.76 yards per play, the seventeenth fewest in the country.

For App State, this part of the schedule always seemed like a place where complacency could have set in. Back to back trips west of the Mississippi River after what was supposed to be three straight weeks of tough conference opponents seemed like a potential spot for a slip up. But now, the schedule has shaken out in App State’s favor to an extent. This will likely be the last time App plays two road games in a row this season before returning to Boone next weekend. Thus, the schedule becomes normal. That’s a good thing. Still, App State has to make one of the longest road trips of the season this weekend against an improving team that really has nothing to lose, and is trying to find themselves. Now, we have an open quarterback competition. So does Texas State go back to the option that was not working? Or do they mix it up, because why not? Texas State will not win with the turnovers. They need a quarterback who is willing to throw the ball away and play another down. Without the turnovers last week, they might have been able to defeat Louisiana. The Bobcats must also get back to more manageable third down plays. In the past four weeks, Texas State has converted just eight of fifty-two third downs. Look for App State to put the ball in the air this weekend. The Bobcat secondary is super thin due to injuries. Coach Spavital also said on Wednesday, “The problem with our next man up approach, is we are running out of men”. Yikes. Texas State has surrendered twelve touchdowns passes in the last four games. They have allowed at least one forty yard pass play in five of eight games in addition to five 300-yard passing efforts in five of eight games. All of this while only sacking quarterbacks eight times all season. This one should be easy for the visitors.

The First Pick

Maroon Kats 15

Mountaineers 45

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