Appalachian Football @ Coastal Carolina

Appalachian State (5-2, 3-1 Sun Belt) @ Coastal Carolina (5-3, 2-2 Sun Belt)

Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 5:00pm est

TV/Video: ESPN+

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

Brooks Stadium 

Surface: Shaw Sports Powerblade (teal)

Capacity: 15,000

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 75.43

Coastal Carolina: 56.28

Home: 2.43

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 16.5 points (rounded)

Sportsbook: App State -14.5

Series: App State leads 4-0

Last meeting: App State 37, Coastal Carolina 29,  October 21st, 2017, Boone, NC

WxCrum Forecast: Dry, Temperatures near 70 for a high, lows in the upper 50’s

There is zero reason to dwell on the past, and although it has taken yours truly a lot longer than I expected to get over it, the time has come to move forward. Plenty is still at stake for the Mountaineers this season. The Sun Belt has shown time and time again, just when you expect things to go a certain way, that weird things can happen. Although App State no longer controls its own destiny for a conference title, that has been the norm for the past two seasons. In both title winning seasons, it was the Mountaineers who needed help down the stretch to accomplish their goals. All things considered, App is in a familiar spot. Now that all the distractions are out of the way, the Mountaineers can get down to the nitty-gritty business of playing football week to week. That is the expectation of every week, but it can be hard to block all that out when your school’s name is getting tossed around like it never has before. Everything that was lost last weekend can be regained at some point. Maybe not this week, or this season, but it can and will be. Last year was a perfect example. After two tough mid-season losses, the Mountaineers got healthy, and played their best football of the season in the last four weeks. We have four weeks remaining in the regular season, and there is no time like the present to start another streak. 

In 2017, Coastal head coach Joe Moglia sat out the season to attend to his health. In an announcement that was made late in fall camp, the Chanticleers were without their head coach heading into their first season of FBS play. The season ended predictably. The Chants finished tenth in the twelve team Sun Belt conference, tied with Georgia Southern. The Chanticleers won their last two games of the season, against FBS-exiting Idaho and Georgia Southern to finish 3-9. Five of their losses were decided by eight points or less, including their loss the App State. 

This season, the Chanticleers are doing their best to reverse the trend of close losses. Last week they opened the game with a 17-0 lead which they eventually relinquished to Georgia State. The Panthers scored 27 of the next 30 points to take a seven point lead into the fourth quarter. After surrendering three third quarter touchdowns, the Chants scored ten points in the final frame and held the Panthers scoreless to grab a 37-34 road win. In September, Coastal jumped out to a 16-7 halftime lead over Louisiana and held on to win 30-28 in another road game. Coastal has three other wins this season, over UAB, UMass and Campbell, which puts them on the doorstep of bowl eligibility, but they face a daunting stretch of App State, Arkansas State and Georgia Southern in their next three games. 

The Chanticleers have their own issues with their starting quarterback. Kilton Anderson remains the leader in passing yardage even after only playing in five of the team’s eight games. Anderson has not played at all in three of the last four games, and played just sparingly against UMass. Anderson was having a career year before going down with an ankle injury. He was on pace to eclipse his junior season in terms of yards, touchdown passes, completions and completions percentage and yards per attempt. In his place, Fred Payton got in on a few plays against UL-Monroe and UMass and played almost exclusively last week versus Georgia State. 

Coastal’s offense is not about passing however. They are team that likes to run the ball, and run in very interesting ways. The base offense is labeled as a spread option, but their variations with motions and pirouettes by their quarterback is something that is rarely seen outside of the service academies. Marcus Outlow leads the Chants with 649 yards on 126 carries, but he has also been somewhat absent recently. Outlow only had nine carries for twenty-five yards against Georgia State while CJ Marable had a bigger day. Marable only had 20 carries in the season’s first three games, but has seen sixty-one carries in the last five games, nearly doubling his usage. Marable had an eighty yard touchdown run against Georgia State, hitting the century mark in yards for the first time this season. 

The Mountaineer defense got a glimpse of Marcus Outlow last year, as he carried seven times for thirty-seven yards. Equally, the Chanticleers were able to lay their eyes on Marcus Williams Jr, who had seventy-two yards and two touchdowns in a game that Taylor Lamb dominated with his arm. Williams Jr, appeared to these eyes to have a better fit than Darrynton Evans as your typical zone running back last week. Against a porous defense, such as Coastal’s, I would expect both backs to have success, but in different places on the field. Evans can certainly burn you outside the hashes and Williams Jr. seems to be running better behind the offensive line. 

In an interesting twist, Coastal Carolina made Appalachian its Homecoming opponent. These are the type of games I like to call, “We’re taking a picture”. Certainly a homecoming crowd will bring plenty of fans, and App Nation is also certain to show well. Joe Moglia has never lost a homecoming game, (5-0) as coach, but this will be his toughest test. Coastal Carolina has the second best rushing offense in the conference, but App State has the second best rushing defense. Being brutally honest, this game might not really come down to what the Coastal offense does or the App defense is able to do. Nope, this one comes down what the Mountaineers can do with presumably a new quarterback taking snaps. It’s the biggest story of the week. A slow process that does not need to be hurried. Is there a chance you see Zac Thomas on Saturday? Yes, but its doubtful in my mind that he’ll be dressed. The reins will be handed to Peyton Derrick or Jacob Huesman. Maybe both will get their shot at playing time. Whoever it is, they need to be able to move the ball, sustain drives, and finish in the end zone. If the App offense is anywhere as close to anemic as it was last week, eventually the Coastal offense will wear down the Mountaineers. I’m expecting a low scoring game this week. Lots of running, minimal passing on both sides and a game that will fly by. 

 

The First Pick

Beach Chickens 21

Mountaineers 28

Coastal Carolina @ Appalachian Football

Here we go with Week 5:

 Coastal Carolina (2-2) @ #17 Appalachian State (2-2, 1-1) 

Time: 3:30pm

TV/Video: GoASU TV

Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; ESPN 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WCOG 1320 Greensboro, Winston Salem, WMFR 1230 Greensboro, High Point; WSML 1200 Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.9 Raleigh, WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnson City; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine, WDNC 620 Durham, WLON 1050 Lincolnton

Kidd Brewer Stadium         

Surface:  FieldTurf

Capacity: 24,050 


Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 


ASU: 56.76

CCU: 48.09

Home: 2.38 points

Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 11 points (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 2-0

Last Meeting: Appalachian 45, Coastal Carolina 28, November 25, 2006, Boone, NC

WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:

Plenty of clouds, chance for a shower, a storm perhaps. Bring rain gear.

Kickoff: Temperatures in the mid 60’s

End of Game: Temperatures in the mid 60’s

            We can break down last Saturday’s win over Chattanooga down in three phases. The first phase included the Appalachian team that appeared to be as bad as the team that played the week before. The second phase included a team that we had seen before: a feisty bunch that was going to play tough defense and fight to win a game. The final phase included the basic ingredients of an opportunistic defense and an offense that makes teams pay for their mistakes. Chattanooga made quick work of Appalachian with its early 10-0 lead, but the Mountaineer defense was strong enough to keep the deficit at ten, and not let it expand to fourteen points. Part of that was due to the ineptitude of an offensive attack by the Mocs, something that has plagued them in the Russ Huesman years. His teams have either been able to run or pass, but generally not excel at both aspects of offensive football. It was evident that the younger Huesman, Jacob, had some straight line speed and escapability, but was never able to really find a groove. Terrell Robinson did not see significant time outside of a couple snaps at wide receiver until the game was decided. Last week, the Mountaineers won, but they didn’t do it alone. They had a lot of help from the other sideline as well.

            Coastal Carolina enters the game having played a variety of opponents. They followed a tougher-than-it-should-have-been win over North Carolina A&T, with a surprise upset of Furman. Coastal was cruising with an eleven point lead entering the fourth quarter and led by ten points with less than five minutes to play. The Chanticleers gave up two touchdowns in the final two minutes to trail by three before tying the game with a field goal as time expired. Coastal won in the third overtime with its defense as Furman failed the mandatory two point attempt on the last play of the game. Coastal then lost to then 20th ranked Eastern Kentucky at home in a rout and also lost last week at Toledo, despite hanging tight. The first thought was that Coastal might be getting the season together, but you have to look deeper. Toledo is currently 108th in total defense and 103rd in FBS against the pass. Playing Coastal Carolina actually helped their defensive numbers. Toledo has given up 614, 513, 351, 432 yards, respectively this season, to their opponents Arizona (12th total offense), Wyoming (73rd), Bowling Green (104th), and Coastal (36th FCS). Toledo is not exactly stopping anyone these days. I think Toledo might have even held up against the Chanticleers as well. The Rockets only put up 402 yards themselves against Coastal while averaging 429 yards on offense a game this season. Several people want to put a lot of stock into the most recent game, but I just can’t buy it. It’s almost the same way I feel about Appalachian right now as well.  

            The Chanticleers have gone all-in on their quarterback Aramis Hillary, the younger brother of former Appalachian wide receiver/kick returner CoCo Hillary. Last season, Aramis rushed the ball ten or more times twice, while this year he has hit the ten carry mark three times, averaging 11.5 carries per game. Last season, Hillary averaged 7.4 rushes per contest. Despite more opportunities to run the ball, his effectiveness has not carried over. Compare his 2011 and 2012 numbers: 3.3 ypc to 1.8 ypc. Knowing these numbers include yardage lost while being sacked, one can also see that Hillary is throwing the ball more this season than last. Hillary has attempted 27 or more passes in every game this season while only eclipsing that number twice in 2011. Those numbers eventually equal 15 more pass attempts per game this season that last year. Hillary is well on his way to a 3,000 yard passing season with well over twenty touchdown passes. Last week against Toledo, Hillary tossed for a career high 356 yards and three touchdown passes. Hillary has only thrown nine interceptions in his last fifteen games, but seven of those interceptions have come in his last six starts. .

            Hillary spreads the ball around the field quite well. His top three receivers have 19 catches or more through four games. Matt Hazel has 20 catches for 293 yards and three touchdowns. Demario Bennett (19/232/2) and Niccolo Mastromatteo (20/214/1) have also contributed. Tyrell Banks has accumulated 11 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown while running back Jeremy Height has 12 catches for 81 yards. Hazel and Bennett provide some size at the position with both being over 6’2 and 190 pounds. The Coastal Carolina running game is not much to talk about. They will run so they can keep the pressure off of Hillary, but still, their offensive line has given up 2.5 sacks a game.

            Steven Miller continues to carry the rushing attack for Appalachian. I was expecting Chattanooga to be able to hold him down better than they did last Saturday. Miller carried 22 times for 94 yards and caught a 35 yard touchdown pass from Jamal Jackson as time was winding down in the second quarter. With those numbers, Miller has already eclipsed his numbers from last year in all three major categories, attempts, yards and touchdowns. Miller is averaging 21 attempts per game this season and has 399 total rushing yards. There is word that Rod Chisholm might be available this weekend, but I wouldn’t rush him back, especially considering how well Miller is running.

            Jamal Jackson bounced back from a first quarter interception to once again post nice numbers. The interception seems to be the norm for Jackson at this point in his career, as he has eleven interceptions in as many career games. As long has he throws three touchdown passes a game like he did against Chattanooga, those interceptions will be forgotten. Jackson is completing 65% of his passes this season and has thrown for 992 yards. In games Appalachian has won this season, Jackson has five touchdown passes and one interception, compared to the losses, he has two interceptions and zero touchdown passes. A big part of those two wins is freshman sensation Sean Price. People want to make comparisons to Brian Quick, but Price has a completely different skill set. Price uses his legs to run away from defenders where Quick used his body to shield the defense. Price has 18 catches for 233 yards and three touchdowns in two games and is a pivotal part of the Mountaineer offense. Price made an exceptional play in the fourth quarter when he came out of nowhere to snag a sure interception away from Chattanooga, and also scored on the catch. Now that his suspension is finally over, hopefully the Mountaineer offense can really take off in the coming weeks.

We still have seen some inconsistent play from the Mountaineer offense. Remember that 21 Mountaineer points were scored directly off of Chattanooga turnovers. Only three Mountaineer drives reached the end zone and one started at the fourteen yard line. In the first half, two of those red zone drives resulted in three points. Appalachian is not going to run into many teams in the next few weeks that they will beat with a sputtering offense. Hopefully having everyone back in the fold on game day for the rest of the season will provide some much needed chemistry. This is Appalachian’s last test before six straight conference games to end the season. Appalachian needs a hard fought convincing win. I would rather not see a blowout of any sort. Coastal Carolina seems to have the right offense to keep the game interesting for a long time. However, I think this is a game that is won in the trenches. If the Mountaineer defense can contain another mobile quarterback like Hillary and keep the Chanticleers in long yardage situations, they will be successful. Chattanooga had 27 first down plays on Saturday night and twelve of them gained no yardage, or even lost yards. Another nine plays went for three yards or less. I would like to see the pass rush from Appalachian continue their ways from last week. Appalachian had four sacks last week, doubling their season total prior to the game. I think the Mountaineers will run to a victory this weekend, especially in a game where rain could be a factor.

The First Pick:

Birds from the Beach            24       

Mountaineers                         34