Here we go with Week 4:
Charleston Southern (4-0) @ Appalachian State 1-2
Time: 3:30 pm
Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WMFR 1230 High Point, Greensboro; WSML 1200, Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnston City; WZGV 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490 Fayetteville; WLON 1050 Lincolnton
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
App State: 56.54
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 16 points (rounded).
Series: First Meeting
Last Meeting: N/A
WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:
Tailgate: Mostly Sunny, warming up into the mid 50’s
Noon: Mostly Sunny, temps in the lower 60’s
Kickoff: Mostly Sunny, temps in the mid 60’s
End of game: Mostly Clear, temps in the mid 60’s
The Mountaineers and Scott Satterfield got their first win of the season last weekend, but it was not particularly easy in the second half. Appalachian was unable to keep its foot on the pedal after nearly shutting out Elon in the first half of play and slowly allowed the Phoenix to creep back into the game. Elon had been struggling in the rushing department in its first three games and obviously made it a point to improve on those numbers, perhaps considering the impending weather conditions, Elon believed a wet surface would be just the game to hit the ground running. The Phoenix may have caught the Mountaineers off guard a little bit with their patient attack, and never wavered even after being down 24-0 in the second quarter. The Mountaineers never adjusted and it might not have ever been their intent to do so. Appalachian was ok with being undermanned in the box as long as the game was in front of them. After Appalachian took their largest lead, Elon managed eight plays over ten yards the remainder of the game, and only one true big play, a 31-yard pass, in the games final thirty-three minutes. Elon ran 48 of their 79 plays in those final thirty-three minutes. The Appalachian defense was not on the field a ton in the second half, only 10:29 of actual game time, but defended forty plays over that period of time. Elon was forcing tempo at a grinding pace and the Mountaineer defense calmly defended the game that was in front of them. Nate Woody was probably pleased the see the Phoenix stick to the ground game to an extent, but at the same time Elon could never get their passing game going, as they could only muster 6.1 yards per attempt. It wasn’t perfect, but all the Apps needed was a win, and that is exactly what they accomplished.
Last week, we wanted a better start from Appalachian in the opening half. After scoring only nine points in the first half in the seasons first two games, the Mountaineers exploded for twenty-four points. It might not have appeared to be an explosion of offense, but in comparison to the previous two contests, it was. After an opening drive three and out from the defense, Jamal Londry-Jackson started at quarterback and directed a six-play, ninety yard drive that was finished off by Marcus Cox’ 50-yard TD reception. Cox was in the right spot as Londry-Jackson’s pass was tipped but caught, and Cox broke two tackles as he raced from one sideline to the other for the score. In the second quarter, Cox ripped a Kam Bryant pass from a defenders grasp and won a foot race down the sideline for a 73-yard TD reception. On both touchdown catches, Cox was not in the ideal placement or situation to make a great play, but he did anyway. We have wanted to see more of Marcus Cox and we got our wish to the tune of twenty-six carries for 159 rushing yards and five catches for 143 yards and three total touchdowns.
The performance by Cox slightly overshadowed the return of Sean Price, who may or may not have completed all of his conditions that warranted his return. The word was mum all week on Price’s return, and we would not have expected any different. Why else would a head coach warn his opposition that his most talented downfield receiving threat was making his season debut? Regardless, Price showed some slight rust, but it was not much. Price caught eight passes for ninety-nine yards and added a 41-yard touchdown catch from Kam Bryant. The Mountaineers move to 7-0 all time when Sean Price catches a touchdown pass.
If you have been living under a rock this football season, we have learned one thing: the Big South is playing football very well. With their geographical similarities, the Big South and the SoCon have always played a lot of non-conference games against one another. Occasionally, a school from the Big South will test a SoCon school and every now and then, grab a win against the conference that is viewed as being their superior. If there was a gap in talent between the two conferences, it has shrunk tremendously in the very recent past. Just last weekend, Gardner Webb knocked off Wofford, and beat Furman in their season opener. Earlier this season, Charleston Southern defeated The Citadel in a “road” game. Presbyterian came up two points short in a game at Furman, while Coastal Carolina managed to defeat the Paladins. Furman has been the common denominator in most of these games, but no matter how you look at it, every SoCon school from South Carolina has lost a football game to the Big South.
Charleston Southern will come to Boone with their shiny 4-0 record and win over The Citadel, but that unblemished record is slightly tarnished if you give it a close look. The Buccaneers’ opponents sport a combined record of 2-11. Charleston Southern has beat a team whose only win is Western Carolina, in The Citadel, and another team whose only win is over Virginia-Wise, in Campbell. That resume is not as strong as it looks in the end. Their competition certainly has not been that strong since their opening season win, and this weekend will be the first time they play in a stadium with an actual home crowd to deal with. In the past couple seasons, the Buccaneers have not played well on the road in hostile environments against the likes of Illinois, Florida State, Central Florida and Hawaii. In those games, Charleston Southern was outscored 234-17, giving up 60 or more points in three of those contests.
The Buccaneers run the all too familiar triple option offense, but not exclusively. Quarterback Malcolm Dixon has thrown for 470 yards and five touchdowns in the first four games. His stats are very consistent, throwing no more than 16 times in any game, and no fewer than 13 times. Dixon can run too, but the Bucs will go away from Dixon in the run game if it isn’t working. Against The Citadel and Norfolk State, Dixon ran 12 times for a total of 5 yards. In the games against Campbell and Shorter, two inferior opponents, Dixon ran 34 times for 237 yards. Seems to be a good idea to keep Dixon in the pocket, as he only completes about 58% of his passes, but containing him will be a key. Dixon had not been sacked all season until last week, when Norfolk State accumulated three sacks and forced Dixon’s only interception of the season as well. Christian Reyes is the leading rusher for the Bucs, who usually gets a heavy volume of the carries. Three times this season, Reyes has carried the ball twenty times or more, and he can take it 5’10 and 218 pounds. That makes Reyes the heaviest player on the Buc offense outside the offensive line and tight end.
Charleston Southern runs the ball on average on three out of every four plays they run. The hard part about a triple option offense is guessing when they will throw the ball. Unlike your typical Wofford and Georgia Southern offenses, who generally pass the ball less often, and are under center on most plays, Charleston Southern will pass out of the shotgun formation. That makes it quite easier on the defensive coordinator to scheme against an offense. Similar to Elon last weekend, Charleston Southern will stick to their game plan regardless of the score. In their win over The Citadel, the Bucs had fallen behind 16-0 late in the first half, but were able to take advantage of a Citadel defensive mistake and a turnover on a punt return to bring the score to 16-14 at half. In the second half, the Bucs rushed for 131 yards and scored all of their touchdowns in the second half on the ground to defeat the Bulldogs. Appalachian will need to adjust to this hard headed game plan, something they were not able to do last week. Luckily Appalachian scored just enough points and use a ground attack of their own to seal the game. It was something special to see last weekend, watching the Mountaineer offense looking more like what it is supposed to. Despite 400 combined passing yards from two different quarterbacks, the Mountaineers ran the ball down the throat of the Elon defense when it mattered. Marcus Cox put on a performance that Appalachian fans had never seen. Cox became the first player in school history to record 100 receiving yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game. Kevin Richardson, Steven Miller, Travaris Cadet, Jimmy Watkins, Damon Scott, John Settle and many others before had never accomplished that feat until Marcus Cox started his first game. Obviously expectations for the remainder of his career will be high, but those should be tempered, as he is still just a true freshman, but it seems the Mountaineers have found their back of the future.
The First Pick:
The other Bucs 24