Appalachian State (2-1) @ Wyoming (2-1)
Saturday, September 23rd, 2023 7:00pm EST
TV/Video: CBS Sports Network
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), 103.9FM/1250AM (Marion), Varsity Network App
War Memorial Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 73.56
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 3.99 points
VegasInsider Line: Wyoming -2.5
Series: Series Tied 1-1
Last Meeting: App State 31, Wyoming 13, October 3, 2015, Boone, NC
After three games to open the season in the state of North Carolina, the Mountaineers will hit the high road for the first time in 2023. Wyoming’s Mar Memorial Stadium is difficult to get to, and its elevation is the highest in all the land. Their homefield advantage is similar to one that the Mountaineers enjoy, albeit several thousand feet higher above sea level. This will be an interesting test for the Mountaineers as its the first flight of the season compared to a short drive to Chapel Hill two weeks ago. This is also important for any potential bowl scenarios, whether that be eligibility or placement. Those non-conference games against Gardner-Webb and East Carolina do not have the same juice as this one-off game against Wyoming before starting conference play. Additionally, the Cowboys are riding the momentum of beating Texas Tech and also hanging with the Texas Longhorns for the majority of the game. It will be important for App State to come out ready to play, but not so amped that they lose their fire before it even gets started.
The Craig Bohl tenure at Wyoming has been unlike his run at North Dakota State. Bohl won three national titles for the Bison before heading to Wyoming, where he has been for ten seasons. Excluding 2020, where Wyoming played only six games, Bohl has won 6 or more games every season for six seasons running. The only gripe from some Cowboys fans is that Wyoming has not won more than 8 games in any of those years. Bohl has been consistent, but to the point of just above average. Wyoming’s best season under Bowl was in 2016, but still managed just 8 wins despite 6 conference triumphs. Administration has been as patient as Bohl’s offenses have been. Other programs might have cut bait, but it seems Wyoming knows who they are and what they are up against. You fire a coach, and its possible you bottom out, and then your program chases those 6-8 wins a year they were accustomed to.
The Cowpokes are not going to wow anyone with a thrilling offense. They are pro-style in nature. Not the current pro-style offenses that you see today, but more like those pro offenses of 20-30 years ago. The statistics do not pop off the page. It’s never about what they do, but more importantly, how they do it. In their three games the season, Wyoming has been patient with the ground game. They averaged 3.9 yards per carry against Texas Tech, 4.4 yards against FCS Portland State, and 4.1 yards against Texas. Those numbers are the epitome of patience. As a team, Wyoming has 61 more yards rushing than Nate Noel. Three different players have led the Pokes in rushing in each game. In Week 1, it was quarterback Andrew Peasley who dashed for 68 yards on 15 carries. Sam Scott had 70 yards on 11 carries against Portland State and Harrison Waylee ran for 110 yards on 18 carries against Texas. Waylee did have a 62 yard scamper versus Texas. Essentially, he had 17 other attempts that went for just 48 yards.
Nate Noel is getting a lot of love, and deservedly so. Averaging 145 yards per game on the ground is a strong number through three games. Noel has hogged the workload, and has been producing to the tune of 5.8 yards per carry. As much as Noel is responsible for the quick offensive start, the balanced passing game for the Mountaineers is equally responsible. Seven different receivers have caught touchdown passes. Dashaun Davis and Kaedin Robinson are completely different players, yet they are separated by just one yard on the stat sheet. Both have caught exactly ten passes, two touchdowns, and their longest plays are also both 34 yards. Robinson has the yardage edge 154-153. Likewise, Christian Horn and swiss army knife Milan Tucker also have exactly 83 yards and a touchdown, with Horn having two more catches than Tucker.
A couple of fluke plays made the score a lot closer with East Carolina then it should have been. It was kind of the same story back in 2021. The 33-19 score two years ago was not that close, and neither was this 43-28 final from Saturday. That says a lot about your program and what expectations are on a week to week basis. Both teams are completely different than 2021, but some things just never change. The App State defense was only responsible for 14 points, and half those points came on the first drive when East Carolina started a quarterback for the first time. It’s understandable to be cautious, but the point here remains. After the first drive, the Mountaineers gave up just a mere 7 points. Turning the Pirates over three times via interception gave fans glimpses of what this defense can be. Joey Aguilar did throw a bad interception, but as long as he tosses a couple touchdown passes a game, or three as was the case Saturday, it will be mostly forgotten as long as those mistakes are not made over and over.
Wyoming has earned an early reputation this season as a team that controls the ball commits very few mistakes. In three games, the Cowboys have accumulated 100 minutes of possession. On the flip side the Mountaineers have controlled the clock for 96 minutes. The Cowboys have only committed nine penalties on the season as well. The Mountaineers have been flagged just thirteen times, which is something that really has not been talked about. Appalachian has never really been a team that worries about penalties. Sometimes you play with passion and get hustle penalties, which are unlike flags called for incorrect formations or shifts. Those should be avoided. However, if you do all the other things correctly, penalty flags shouldn’t come in to play. It’s part of the game. But the fact the Mountaineers have been decent in that area has only made the offense that much more dangerous. The Mountaineers have 16 offensive touchdowns compared to the Cowboys nine on the season. Excluding overtime scores, Wyoming has averaged 20.3 points per game. East Carolina may have the worst offense in Division I football. Wyoming’s is better, but its still a bottom 20 offense in football in terms of yards, and bottom third in terms of gained first downs. But that is kind of the point here. Wyoming does not care about the flash, they want the substance. The onus is on the Mountaineer defense to come up with stops and get the ball to the offense. The Cowboys have converted third downs into first downs at a 37% clip on the young season, which ranks in the bottom third of FBS. It’s the most important statistic on Saturday. Get the Cowboys off the field, or else they employ the same strategy the Mountaineers did against the Tar Heels a couple weeks ago.
The First Pick
Poking and Prodding 20