Appalachian State Football: Appalachian vs. Jacksonville 9/6/2008

Here we go with Week 2:

Jacksonville @ #1 Appalachian State

Time: 3:30pm

TV: None
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
Capacity: 20,150
Jeff Sagarin Rankings:
ASU:     71.55
JU:    21.83
Home advantage: 2.87 points
ASU is favored by the Sagarin rankings by 53 points (rounded).

Series: First Meeting
Last Meeting: n/a


Home sweet home. That thought crossed my mind as soon as I found out about last week’s game being moved up six hours. I knew the rest of the weekend wouldn’t feel right. At that time I was somewhere in Alabama and all I could think about was how the rest of the weekend was going to be a blur. Not enough sleep, not enough tailgating and certainly not enough down time after the game before getting back on the road again. After running away from Gustav and being lazy on Labor Day, all I wanted to do was get back to normal. Get back home, have a week to prepare for a home game where I knew the weather wouldn’t dim my spirits(fingers crossed, thanks Hannah). After the spanking we received from LSU, hopefully it brought everyone associated with ASU back down to earth a little bit. Cloud Nine finally started falling somewhere in the first quarter where ASU looked like a team that couldn’t do too much right. No complaints here, I was on the cloud with everyone else, but LSU was simply more athletic than Appalachian was and made sure they wouldn’t become the second coming of Michigan.


Jacksonville University is somewhat of an unknown to the Mountaineer fan base. The Dolphins have only won 39 games in the existence of the football program, a feat that ASU has easily accomplished in just the last three championship seasons. They will likely start a true freshman quarterback in Josh McGregor, who sparked a dormant offense to 20 second half points in their win over Savannah State. Their best player is probably wide receiver Geavon Tribble who is on pace to break school records in receptions and receiving yards. The leading rusher is Rudell Small who carried for 109 yards on 25 carries. Small was responsible for 68% of the rushing attempts against Savannah State.


The Jacksonville defense may be suspect to the running game. Savannah State had four different players with over 30 yards rushing against the Dolphin defense. However, Jacksonville was able to pressure the Savannah quarterbacks into completing only 10 of 28 passes and forcing one interception. The defense also forced 10 three and outs against Savannah State.


Jacksonville does appear to have some playmakers on its roster. Eight different receivers caught passes. Their punt return average was over 9 yards per return and their kick return average was also decent at 20 yards per return. Another sign of great athleticism is the fact that the interception was returned for 62 yards. Their 21 fist downs and 31 minutes of possession show that they know how to run their offense. Most likely , they will try and chew off as much clock as possible against Appalachian’s high scoring offense.


As previously mentioned, Appalachian struggled mightily against LSU. Both of the LSU lines were dominant. Armanti Edwards didn’t have much time to throw all game long and the Tigers were able to stop the running game before it started. It was only the second time in his career that Edwards attempted over 30 passes in a single game. The 41% completion rate was the worst for any game in his career as well. Defensively, Appalachian couldn’t get a pass rush at all and that made it extremely hard to cover the LSU receivers. LSU also ran for 266 yards on 40 attempts.


If there were any bright spots for ASU against LSU, it was the kicking game. Jason Vitaris connected on kicks of 24 and 44 yards and was also good on his only extra point. The punting game was able to keep LSU from breaking any big returns by punting the ball with plenty of hang time in order for the coverage unit to get down the field and contain or force fair catches. When is the last time we talked about the ASU kicking game in a prediction thread? Just goes to show what kind of game it was for Appalachian.


Just like last weekend, this game will be a game of first for both schools. For Jacksonville, it will be the first time playing a top ranked team in the FCS and will also be the first game against a member of the Southern Conference. For ASU, it will be the first game in the newly expanded Kidd Brewer Stadium which now seats just over 20,000. Depending on the weather, ASU may have its first home crowd with attendance over 30,000.  ASU has never lost to a team from the Pioneer League and ASU is 17-2 in home openers under Jerry Moore. Jacksonville is touting ASU as its biggest test in school history, so they will be playing with nothing to lose. The Dolphins have a relatively young team at most of the skill positions and none of their players have played in an atmosphere quite like Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Dolphins will need several breaks to go their way in order to win on Saturday. The 53 point spread is the most lopsided spread since I have been writing the prediction thread. Covering it may be difficult, but ASU will certainly want to make sure they are crisp heading into an off week before the much anticipated game against James Madison. Hopefully Armanti Edwards will play no more than the first half and give way to freshman DeAndre Presley. Most likely you will see lots of rushing yards from the ASU offense, and I will predict at least two players with 100 yards rushing in the game. Although anything can happen on a given Saturday, I am praying for the Dolphins that ASU does not take out all of last week’s frustrations out on them.

The First Pick:

Tuna Salad          10
Moonshine           62

Appalachian State Football: Appalachian vs. Jacksonville 9/11/2010

Here we go with Week 2:

Jacksonville (1-0) @ #3 Appalachian State (1-0, 1-0 1st)

Time: 3:30pm

TV: None
Stadium: Kidd Brewer Stadium                
Surface:  FieldTurf

Capacity: 21,650
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
ASU:     65.34
JU:    48.62   

Home advantage: 3.01 points

Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 20 points (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Appalachian 56, Jacksonville 7, September 6, 2008


            Last weekend’s game against Chattanooga was a tale of two halves. Chattanooga won the first half, and Appalachian won the second. Fortunately, for Appalachian, their deficiencies in the first half were overcome by an unprecedented dominance on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter. As the game unfolded, I asked myself: Is it us or is it them? Both? Appalachian was beaten several times by deep passes. At the same time, the Mocs were nowhere to be seen near Appalachian receivers. Eventually, the game was decided by turnovers. Chattanooga lost one more fumble. The Mocs had to play a perfect game. Again they could not accomplish that goal. Missing three point after touchdown attempts and giving Appalachian the ball deep in their own territory twice led to the demise of the Mocs. Despite earning the win, Appalachian is not out of the woods as it welcomes one of the better non-scholarship programs in the FCS to Boone. 


            The last time the Jacksonville Dolphins came to Boone, they were more in awe of what Appalachian had accomplished in its previous three seasons. Now, they make the trip with intentions of leaving with a win. Jacksonville defeated future CAA member Old Dominion last weekend on the road. It was only the third time in eight seasons that the Dolphins had knocked off a scholarship program.


            Jacksonville has a three-headed attack on offense that is led by Walter Payton award candidate Rudell Small, who carried for 118 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win. Two years ago against Appalachian, Small carried for 56 yards on 11 attempts and also caught three passes for ten yards. Quarterback Josh McGregor has already broken five school records in the young history of Jacksonville football. McGregor threw for 311 yards last week against Old Dominion while also tossing three touchdown passes. His favorite target is Josh Philpart who had 6 catches for 115 yards and two touchdown against the ODU Monarchs. Philpart has caught a touchdown pass in nine straight games.


            It was apparent for the first few quarters against UTC, that Appalachian was going to run the ball, and that it sorely missed Devon Moore, who is still nursing a couple of injuries from fall camp. In his place, Devin Radford and Cedric Baker were very steady, combining for 129 yards on 23 carries. Baker ran for two touchdowns while Radford benefited from a dehydrated Moc defender, running right at him for a key 50 yard run in the third quarter. Not so steady, was Travaris Cadet, who fumbled a kickoff return that led to a Moc score, and finished with three yards rushing. The good news is that Moore will be back, but I seriously doubt he gets more than ten carries. It is evident that other backs like Cadet and Rod Chisholm could use the work if this game gets out of hand.


            The biggest question for the Mountaineers this offseason was answered easily against Chattanooga. DeAndre Presley showed the conference and the rest of FCS football that the Mountaineers were here to stay. Presley was magnificent in the pocket completing over 75% of his passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns. His rushing yardage was not what Mountaineer fans are used to from Armanti Edwards, but it was effective, scoring two more touchdowns. The fact the Presley had spent time at wide receiver last year may have lead to the smartest play of the young season. Facing a third and one at the UTC 29 yard line, Presley whipped a pass to Matt Cline, who fumbled. Presley alertly scooped the fumble and returned it across the field for a touchdown. Presley was credited with the touchdown catch, and provided the go ahead score that proved to be enough to defeat the Mocs. Presley was awarded at the conference and national levels as the player of the week.


            This is not the same Jacksonville team that Appalachian played in 2008. They are not here to show up, but to compete. Jacksonville has come off back to back winning seasons and their confidence is growing. Several members of their team played at Kidd Brewer back in 2008, so they will not have big eyes when they come to Boone. The Dolphins have experienced players and a big passing game that will pose some serious threats for Appalachian. In several recent games, the Mountaineers have been exposed by play action passes and the deep ball. This Mountaineer defense supposedly has an attacking style that wants to keep the play in the middle of the field, although that was not seen last Saturday. Pressure on the quarterback is key. Once Appalachian starting turning up the heat last weekend, and believing in themselves, BJ Coleman found himself on his back. Giving up 41 points wont win you very many football games. Although the Mountaineer offense appears as strong as ever, the defense simply cannot depend on the offense to score seven touchdowns every week. They must stiffen up and it starts this weekend against Jacksonville. The team as a whole must put together a complete game before hitting the remainder of the conference slate. I expect that to happen. The Mountaineers rolled up 450+ yards rushing on the Dolphins in 2008, and should have no problem matching that against a very young Dolphin defense.


The First Pick:


King of the Sea        14

Mountaineers           45