App State Football @ Coastal Carolina

Appalachian State (5-3) @ Coastal Carolina (7-1)

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022 7:30pm EST

TV/Video: ESPN

Radio: FLAGSHIP 97.3 FM (North Wilkesboro), 96.5
FM/1450 AM (Boone), 99.1 FM/1060 AM/1030 AM (Charlotte),
105.3 FM/1320 AM (Greensboro), 790 AM (Johnson City),
107.7 FM/1450 AM (Hendersonville), Varsity Network App

Brooks Stadium

Capacity: 20,000

Surface: Shaw Sports PowerBlade

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 71.65

Coastal Carolina: 67.39

Home: 1.82

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 2.44 points

VegasInsider Line: App State -3

Series: App State leads 7-1

Last Meeting: App State 30, Coastal Carolina 27, October 20, 2021, Boone NC

This Thursday comes down to an all or nothing situation. A lot of how the remainder of the season is approached will come down to this result. And it works that way for both teams. A loss by either, and they will need some major help to achieve their goals. The Mountaineers have been tested this season. Sometimes by teams they expected, and other times by teams they may not have. Coastal, themselves, has not really had many games where you can say they ran away with one, outside of a midweek contest at the friendliest place to play in the conference. They have allowed 26 or more points to every team they have played at home, including the likes of Gardner-Webb and Army, and those numbers have slowly gone up over the course of the season. Yet, the Chanticleers have managed a sell-out for just about the only team their fans and students really care to beat, while promoting a “black out” at the same time. So instead of promoting their brand, they opt for being something they actually are not. Seems to fit them quite well.

Whether we want to admit it or not, Coastal and App are still a big deal. When the schedule was released, this game week was singled out as a game that will have a major impact on the Sun Belt East Division race. It remains that way as we enter a pivotal ninth game for both teams. Whoever wins will have a major inside line to representing the division in the conference championship game. Coastal made it here by only dropping one game, but it was a noticeable loss, just a couple weeks ago at home to Old Dominion. Coastal can usually find a way to win closely played games, but this one was no such contest. The Chanticleers were dominated from start to finish. The Monarchs never trailed in the game where they ran for 323 yards on the ground on just 32 attempts. In all, Old Dominion averaged 10.8 yards per play, an uncanny figure. Grayson McCall’s 358 passing yards were not enough, and his three touchdown passes were not enough, but it was six sacks by the ODU defense that ruined Coastal’s homecoming weekend.

Usually with the Coastal offense, they go as the way their quarterback goes. Grayson McCall has had another stellar year. But as was mentioned earlier, it’s not all McCall. He’s an integral part of what they do, and they suffer when he isn’t playing. He’s completing close to 69% of his passes on the year, even after completing just 13 of 24 passes last week against Marshall. His lone interception of the year was way back in Week 2 against Gardner-Webb, and has thrown multiple touchdown passes in six of eight games. Although, McCall has thrown just five touchdown passes in his last three games, he remains on fire in home games, tossing 15 touchdown passes across five contests, and exactly three touchdown passes in each game. This all comes down to which storyline you want to follow. Let’s throw another wrench into this Coastal offense correlation with McCall’s output. In the last three weeks, Coastal has averaged just 24.3 points per game, where in the first five games of the season, the Chants were scoring 36.4 points per game. That’s a decent reduction of points all of a sudden. In two of those three games, wins over Marshall and ULM, both on the road, Coastal recovered two fumbles.

Back to McCall for a brief moment. Of his three years starting for the Chanticleers, he’s evolved into more a passer than a runner. Concerns with keeping him healthy and away from defenders is part of it. It’s a natural progression for just about any quarterback that is mobile or considered a dual threat. McCall ran for 569 yards in 2020, 290 yards in 2021, and 158 yards so far in 2022. McCall has had one game this season, where his rushing statistics, due primarily to lost yardage on sacks, were in the negative. That was the Old Dominion loss. He also had one such game last year, where his rushing totals were in the negative. That was the loss to App State. The Mountaineers collected eight tackles for loss including three sacks in the game. App State also fumbled twice in that game, keeping it closer than it really should have been. The Mountaineers outgained Coastal by 229 yards last year, but these two teams are a lot different in 2022. Coastal had three different backs rush for over 500 yards on the season in 2021, with one back eclipsing 1,000 yards. This season, Coastal has just one back in CJ Beasley who is over 500 yards through eight games, followed by Reese White with 334 yards. Coastal is rushing for 52 less yards per game and 1.5 yards per carry fewer than they did a season ago.

The way this App State offense has played for several weeks leads to plenty of concerns facing a team like Coastal Carolina that likes to start fast. The Mountaineers will have to be ready to go from the first whistle. App State has seen success many different ways over the course of the McCall era. This is a very winnable game if the Mountaineers play their brand and hold onto the football. Their game is a steady dose of the run, mixed with passing elements. The running backs should be fresh, with Nate Noel and Daetrich Harrington combining for a perfect change of pace to Camerun Peoples, who has been difficult to take down this season once he gets a couple steps upfield. Coastal is holding opponents to ten less yards per game on the ground compared to last season. In 2021, they allowed 4.1 per carry, while giving up 4.0 per tote in 2022. However the Mountaineers could be looking to pass on Thursday night, against a secondary that has given up 273 yards per game this season. In addition, Coastal has surrendered 83 more yards per game, and nearly 2 more yards per attempt and completion this season compared to last. And we all remember the Malik Williams game from a season ago, where he shredded the Chant defense for 206 yards. Corey Sutton also had a huge game with 113 yards receiving.

It’s pretty easy to sit back and mention, that to keep from Coastal from winning, you have to do certain things, and it will all work out. What App State did last year was exactly what you do not want to do against a team built like Coastal. The Mountaineers were down 14-0 after the first quarter. Not good. The Mountaineers also turned the ball over twice to Coastal by fumbling. Very bad. Usually, that is not going to work. Luckily, an on-sides kick was miraculously executed to a tee, and the Mountaineers tied the game just about as quickly as they fell behind. An interesting statistic to note in that game, Coastal ran just 52 offensive plays, yet time of possession was fairly even. Converting just three of nine third down conversions kept the Chants off the field for the most part. So, all the things the Mountaineers could not afford to do, they did, and still were able to amass 575 yards offense. And now, App State will have their chance at a defense, that is arguably worse than they were a season ago. Ranked 98th overall, and 113th in passing yards, Coastal has given up yards this season, and because of it, are allowing nearly six more points a game on defense. Yet, Chase Brice and the Mountaineers will be playing in just their third road game of the season, where Brice has averaged about 265 yards per game on the road, and has only been sacked three times. Those two games in Texas might not provide enough of a sample size to truly represent what could happen after a bus ride to Conway. Maybe all this comes down to App State running the football. The Mountaineers ran for 204 yards back in 2020, but did not adjust their game plan in the second half. Last year, the Mountaineers raced for 228 yards on the ground. In both situations, it involved slow steady attacks, to keep the ball out of the hands of the Coastal offense. The longer the Coastal defense remains on the field, the better for App State. No team ever wants to go down 14 points to start a game, but the Mountaineers pulled it off last year, and then again this season against Georgia State. In both scenarios, the Mountaineers never panicked, even if they had to adjust their plan on the fly, and it worked out. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to doubt the Mountaineers, but there are just as many reasons to doubt a Coastal team that allowed teams like Army and Gardner Webb to hang around. The best win either of those two have is probably UL-Monroe. In the Georgia Southern game, neither defense could stop the other. That one came down to who had the ball last. The Chants offense carried them early on, and they are the reason they win, but that defense just has way too many issues giving up yards, which will lead to their demise on Thursday night.

The First Pick

Chaucers Chickens 20

Mountaineers 28

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