App State Football @ Marshall

Appalachian State (5-4) @ Marshall (5-4)

Saturday, November 12th, 2022 3:30pm 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

Joan C Edwards Stadium

Capacity: 38,227

Surface: Astroturf

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 69.88

Marshall: 67.16

Home: 2.09

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by .63 points

VegasInsider Line: App State -1

Series: App State leads 15-9

Last Meeting: App State 31, Marshall 30, September 23, 2021, Boone NC

After a trip to the almost beach in Conway, App State will travel the opposite direction to the banks of the Ohio River to face Marshall in a conference game for the first time since 1996. It’s hard to believe it has been over a quarter century since the last such meeting. These teams have played some very memorable games over the years against one another. This series is tied at 6-6 in games played in Huntington, and the last time the Mountaineers visited, Marshall knocked the Mountaineers out of the Top 25 rankings. A previous game in Huntington included the Mountaineers winning a tough game to remain undefeated in their magical 1995 season. Last season, the Mountaineers broke a three game losing streak to Marshall by scoring ten unanswered points in the fourth quarter. After back to back games in this series with a national audience, these teams will clash looking to find their way into bowl eligibility. Both teams need two wins, and neither wants to head into their final two games of the regular season needing to win both contests.

If you thought Coastal and App are turning into a big deal, may I introduce App State and Marshall. This rivalry was a big deal, and will continue to be a big deal. These two teams have traded home wins the past two seasons, and both games were thrilling and tight from start to finish. Saturday looks to be the same, with two teams struggling with inconsistent parts of their team. The App State offense can look unbeatable at times, and at other times, look downright boring. Marshall struggles on offense, but has a stingy defense that keeps them in every game. Both teams gained Power 5 wins earlier in the year, but have not resembled those teams for some time now. Marshall scored a 12-0 victory over Old Dominion last week, that basically sums up their entire season. Plenty of defense, and enough offense. The Herd kicked four field goals in their shutout win while recovering three Old Dominion fumbles. They controlled the game, possessing the ball for 38 minutes, but failed to score touchdowns with five trips in the red zone.

One might look at the Marshall schedule further, and see that they defeated James Madison a few weeks ago. Madison did not have quarterback Todd Centeio that game, and their backup threw four interceptions and was sacked seven times. The Dukes were also 0-17 on third down in that contest. That accounts for two of Marshall’s five wins. The other three were over Norfolk State, Notre Dame and Gardner Webb. One of those three schools does not belong with the other two. That’s right, Marshall beat Notre Dame back in September, the same weekend that App State beat Texas A&M. Two Notre Dame quarterbacks combined to throw three interceptions against the Herd. Hopefully you noticed the trend. In Marshall’s three FBS wins, they have received a lot of help via the turnover. It’s a large part of their success, having gained 21 turnovers all season long, ranking 5th in FBS in that category. But then again, half of those turnovers gained occurred in just three games.

The Herd have used two quarterbacks this season. In the the first six games, Henry Colombi handled most of the snaps. The Texas Tech transfer was largely ineffective as a passer with just six touchdown passes, but was pretty accurate overall, completing well over 70% of his passes. However, he has not played since the Louisiana game, when he completed just nine of his thirteen passes for 68 yards. Redshirt freshman Cam Fancher has been inserted in the starting lineup the last three games, using his feet as a runner to complement the Marshall run game. Fancher has just one touchdown pass and four interceptions since he has been starting, while completing around 50% of his passes. The Herd is averaging 17 points per game since Fancher took over. Let us remove the blowout win over Norfolk State from consideration. Marshall managed 26 points against Notre Dame, 28 against Bowling Green in regulation, 7 against Troy and 28 against Gardner Webb. That comes to nearly 23 points a game. Fancher is guiding the offense to six fewer points per game.

Another frustrating day for the App State ground attack has many asking questions. Seems the successes against Robert Morris and Georgia State are long gone. Coastal was decent on run defense. Marshall is better. Leaps and bounds better. Opponents are only gaining 78.7 yards per game on the ground against the Herd. That’s the third best figure in the country. James Madison is second against the run, and the Mountaineers were limited to 63 yards in that game. This will be a challenge. Can App State find a way to run the ball against Marshall? App State managed just 88 yards on the ground last week, and it was not like they were forced to throw. Maybe the Mountaineers attack the Herd in the air first. Although Marshall does not have unbeatable statistics against the pass, they do have 13 interceptions on the year, yet they allow 11.8 yards per catch. The Herd only gives up 21% of third down conversion on defense, so running the ball seems like a stretch. Maybe the Mountaineers can get the secondary walking backwards on the snap by getting their tight ends and receivers going early.

Touchdowns might become premium this Saturday. Marshall doesn’t give them up and their offense does not score them. A slower pace of offense could favor the Mountaineers, if they can get in gear. It is likely that Marshall will hang around, as they are limited offensively, outside of their ground game. Marshall loves to hand the ball to Khalan Laborn, and for good reason. Laborn has accumulated 1200 yards on the ground in just nine games, and has thirteen touchdowns to his credit. The Herd will go as he does. Marshall has 100 first downs on the ground alone this season. The run game, combined with a stellar defense, is usually one of the oldest recipes in the book for a successful football team. However, Marshall sits here with a 5-4 record, and really has not defeated a good football team since Notre Dame. They are a perplexing team. A lot of the same things can be said about App State at this point. The juice has been missing since mid-September. And although there have been glimpses of success, it has been inconsistent all year long. Both teams are in situation where they are playing to make a bowl game, which is well below the expectations of competing for the East division. This one feels like it has the makings of a classic game in this rivalry, but at the same time, it feels like something weird could happen. You could say the same thing about the 2020 game in Huntington. That was a classic defensive struggle for most of the game until Marshall scored late to put the game out of reach. But this is nearly a completely different Marshall team from two years ago. One that has lost its last two home games, and scoring just thirteen points in each game. You also just don’t know which App State team will show up. You could get the first half team or the second half team. The team that gives up numerous third downs, or the one that makes crucial mistakes at the worst times. The Mountaineers have the talent to play with any team in this league, but for whatever reason it has not clicked this season on a consistent basis. But the Mountaineers are still better than a watered down Louisiana team that Marshall lost to at home. And they are better than James Madison without their quarterback. If the Mountaineers can control the game with a creative game plan, and show Marshall things they have not seen on tape, they should be able to wear down that Herd defense. Additionally, the Mountaineers linebackers need to be ready to tackle well all game long. The first team to 20 points will probably win, and I think Chase Brice should be the difference.

The First Pick

Plunderers 18

Mountaineers 24

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