Appalachian Football vs Coastal Carolina

Appalachian State (3-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) vs. Coastal Carolina (3-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Saturday, September 28th, 2019 3:30pm

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

Kidd Brewer Stadium

Capacity: 30,000

Surface: FieldTurf

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 74.32

CC: 58.28

Home: 2.46

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 18.5 points

Line: App State -16

Series: App State leads 5-0

Last meeting: App State 23, Coastal Carolina 7; November 3, 2018, Conway, SC

WxCrum Forecast: Partly Cloudy, chance of rain, Temps Upper 70s to Low 80’s

Typically, after the Super Bowl is played, the season is over. Well, lets just say, most of the non-conference schedule over. As much fun as last week was, it will not amount to a Chapel Hill of beans if the Mountaineers do not keep the train rolling. It’s perfect timing that a conference opponent comes after such an important win like last week. The ability to focus should not be difficult. After all, the reason student-athletes come to Boone to play football, is for the rings. Coastal Carolina is ring game number one. You have our attention. The last instance a game of importance occurred, it was followed by Lenoir-Rhyne. So it’s easy to see how this is much different. Major news outlets are not crawling all over campus looking for the next big story about little App State. Why? Because this was not a Super Bowl. This was the expectation. This was just another game on the schedule. For every radio personality who attempts to validate a loss because the opponent wanted it more than your team, you are not doing yourself any favors. For every backhanded compliment in a newspaper, once again no favors. If we played every game on paper, we would not have any fun. Let’s keep playing the games on the field. It’s more fun that way.

Unlike the quick strike Tar Heels from a week before, Coastal Carolina is a ball control offense and they are not afraid to show it. They are averaging a whopping 35:18 of possession a game. That’s good enough for eighth in the country. That number is almost unheard of. They have controlled the ball for no less than 32:53 in each game. Part of that success is an offense that is perfect on fourth down conversions. Eight attempts, all successful. A third down conversation rate of 43% is also above average, good enough for 48th in the country. For the Chanticleers, its all about a very balanced offense that is averaging 245 yards on the ground, and 211 in the air per game. The Chants are also 4th in the country in first downs, with 109 through four games. That patience to move the ball one set of chains at a time is what has set them a part from their opponents this season.

Which, leads to their strength of schedule. Or shall we say weakness of schedule. I am sure they are happy to be 3-1 right now, and that helps build tons of confidence with a very young roster. But guys, they have played absolutely nobody. Now Eastern Michigan was a bowl team last year that Georgia Southern needed to beat with a late field goal down at the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery. But Eastern Michigan snuck by Coastal to give them their lone loss, and needed four interceptions to do it. Then, Coastal beat Kansas by a thrilling score of 12-7. Kansas might have Les Miles as their coach, but they still have Kansas football players. The Chants added lopsided wins over FCS Norfolk State, and UMass, who is the worst team in FBS.

Of the 981 net rushing yards that Coastal has gained this season, CJ Marable has gained 398, or just over 40% of the team’s total. Marable depends on the volume and is a very consistent runner. His average of 5.2 yards per carry is not deceiving. His longest run of the season is just 28 yards. He is going to get his yards if he gets his carries, which he will. He is averaging 19 carries a game, and his lowest total was last week against UMass, in which carried the ball 15 times. Last year against App, Marable was nowhere to be seen, garnering just three carries for minus-one yard. Marable is also the team’s leading receiver at 13 catches for 157 yards. He had seven receptions in the opening game against Eastern Michigan, and just six since. Marable also leads the team with six total touchdowns. Coastal’s second leading rusher is actually their backup/change of pace quarterback Bryce Carpenter. Most of his 179 yards on year came against UMass where he ran for 102 yards on twelve carries. Since we are talking about Carpenter, we’ll continue. His role has increased slightly as the season has wore on, especially as a passer. He is more efficient than their starter, Fred Payton, and has three touchdown passes to zero interceptions.

Payton has started every game for Coastal this season, and has had up and down stat lines throughout. After throwing the ball 43 times, including four interceptions, in the opener against Eastern Michigan, Payton has been asked to throw just 46 times since then, in three games. The game plan against Kansas seemed to be the reasoning against throwing the ball, and Norfolk State was a mismatch, where the passing game was not needed. However, Payton was asked to throw against UMass, where he was 16/18 for 203 yards, but still threw an interception. With Payton’s five interceptions to four touchdown passes, we might see more of Bryce Carpenter, especially considering his increased playing time of late.

There has not been enough talk about Zac Thomas from last weekend’s win. The star of the game was Demetrious Taylor for obvious reasons. In his fifteenth career start, Thomas engineered numerous scoring drives, was plenty accurate, flipped fields on a busted play, and kept the ball on a read play for a critical third down conversion late in the game. The numbers may not have eye-popping or jaw-dropping, but the body of work was exquisite. Thomas did not throw for a touchdown, but didn’t need to with Darrynton Evans scoring three of his own on offense. Thomas had a season high for completions, attempts and yards passing. But, more importantly, he had a season high in rushing yards. Thomas’s ability to run brings another weapon to the table that a defense has to account for. His 50-yard run on 3rd down and 7 set up the second field goal to narrow the deficit to 7-6. His five yard carry on 2nd down and goal from the seven yard line gave way to Evans, who punched it in and extended App State’s lead to 27-10 late in the second quarter. Finally, the twelve yard run on 3rd and 5 from the Mountaineer thirty yard line was a back breaker for the Heels, who had burned two timeouts on the previous downs.

Try to look past Coastal Carolina’s schedule and convince yourself how they are going to win on Saturday. First thing, control the ball, don’t turn it over, play error free and mistake free football. Coastal has been able to control the ball flawlessly. They know they are undermanned, and a beautiful way to combat that is to shorten the game. Turnovers were a big key last week for App State, and they took advantage. The Mountaineers increased their turnover margin on the season to +1.67, good enough for four-way tie for sixth in the country. Coastal sits dead even on turnover margin, which is 59th nationwide. Penalties are big. Appalachian has been atrocious this season, averaging eight flags per game for just over 85 yards. Coastal Carolina is sixth in the country in penalty yards for teams that have played four games. The Chants have been flagged eighteen times for 154 yards. Defensively, the Mountaineers absolutely cannot give a team cheap yards and extend drives to a team that likes to shorten the game and possess the ball. Cannot stress that point enough. This analysis might seem short and tidy, but I really believe that is what we are dealing with. A team that presents like an old school option oriented club that likes to lean heavily on their game plan. This game has some serious shootout potential. The App State defense has been around enough to make some plays here and there this season, and that has kept them afloat, but if Coastal plays to their strengths plays keep away, this one could be closer than expected.

The First Pick

Beach Chickens 22

Mountaineers 37

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