App State Football @ #22 Miami

Appalachian State (1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) vs Miami (0-1, 0-0 ACC)

Saturday, September 11th, 2021 7:00pm EST


Radio: 97.3 FM North Wilkesboro, 600 AM Winston-Salem, 1270 AM Charlotte, 1450 AM Hendersonville, Sirius XM 80, TuneIn App

Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

Capacity: 64,767

Surface: Bermuda Grass

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 75.58

Miami: 75.80

Home: 2.37

Miami is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 2.59 points

Line: Miami -9.0

Series: Miami leads 1-0

Last Meeting: Miami 45, App State 10, September 17, 2016, Boone, NC

If you were lucky enough to be in attendance at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday or Kidd Brewer Stadium on Saturday evening, you were treated to some pretty fantastic performances. Attend both? Bucket list weekend. Obviously the win on Thursday is what we are here to talk about. Hey look, we beat East Carolina for the first time in 46 years. We all knew we were a better program, but you need that scoreboard to back it up. The score is what gets etched into the history books forever. Another opportunity exists this weekend. Miami is reeling a little bit. Fans are super disappointed about not being able to compete with one of the best dynasties in all the sport. It almost feels like the shoe is on the other foot circa 2016. App State wanted to beat Miami five years ago. There was hope, and Miami was down, but they were still Miami with little ol’ App State on the schedule, in just their third full year of FBS football. Now, App State can beat Miami? Are we trying to convince ourselves of that again, or does there exist optimism with facts to support it? Miami is not going to hand it to App State — they’ll have to have to earn it. Just the way we like it.

We venture back to the time machine in Week 2 to complete a two games series that came together out of nowhere nearly 6 years ago. It was a first of its kind scheduling event for App State, to host their initial Power 5 opponent in Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Apps are returning the favor almost five years later. That series potentially opened the door for the Mountaineers to schedule the likes of other directional “Carolina” schools to eventually, maybe not, come to Boone. Looking at you, Gamecocks. Regardless, this return trip to Miami was scheduled before App State played in its first Camellia Bowl, which tells you exactly how quickly things can change in college athletics. In 2015, Miami was not performing, but they were still the Hurricanes, Despite that, they were able to roll the Mountaineers pretty easily in 2016, who were still working with FCS-type talent at many positions.

If you thought comparing the one opponent that App and ECU had in common last week was wild, just hang tight. Based on the ACC’s decision to play one nonconference game in 2020, the opportunity for common opponents was minimal. Miami chose to play UAB in its opening game last year, and won 31-14 over the Blazers. The week before, UAB beat Central Arkansas 45-35, but the last game UAB played prior to that was their 31-17 loss in the 2019 New Orleans Bowl to App State. Now those games were a long time ago, and likely do not mean much, but they remain interesting. Last year Miami was 8-3, and played six games against teams sporting a record over .500, and went 3-3 in those games. All of their 2020 losses were to bowl eligible teams in Clemson, North Carolina and Oklahoma State. Coupled with the opening week loss to Alabama, the Hurricanes have lost three straight football since last season. Enjoy the irony here, in that Miami’s last win in football was over Duke. Certainly those dots have been connected by now.

The Miami offense goes through their Heisman candidate D’Eriq King, who is in his second season with the school since transferring from Houston. A major offseason story for King and the ‘Canes was his recovery from an ACL injury he suffered in the bowl game against Oklahoma State. King had no issues moving around in the pocket, and using his legs to escape the pass rush when pressured against Alabama. Still, King was sacked four times, lost a fumble on one sack, and had two interceptions. One of the interceptions was a tipped pass, and the other, King just threw into too much traffic. Only twice did King throw passes over twenty yards against Alabama. King netted ten yards on his nine carries against Alabama, and rushed more times than any other Hurricane in 2020. His receivers are really good, top to bottom, but none are head and shoulders above the rest. That’s not intended as bulletin board material, but more as a compliment. Several of them can hurt you. More importantly, Miami is really good at tight end with Will Mallory who was fifth on the team in receptions in 2020, while backing up Brevin Jordan who was a fifth-round selection of the Houston Texans. In all, Mallory and Jordan accounted for 60 receptions for 905 yards and eleven touchdowns for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee last season.

For an opening weekend of college football, App State could not have asked for much better. Defeating an in-state rival on a neutral field in front of a national audience is the kind of stuff memories are made of. Old friends made new friends in downtown Charlotte on a perfect day and night for football. The new guy, Chase Brice, probably thinks he could have played better, but you will not find any complaints here. Forget the pedigree, expectations or uncertainty, Brice helped choreograph an App State win. The newspaper article might not land on the refrigerator door, but it was the first step in the right direction for the entire offense. A very balanced attack looked nearly unstoppable in the second quarter when the Mountaineers rallied from a 6-0 deficit to lead by two touchdowns at halftime. Ten players caught passes with Thomas Hennigan and Corey Sutton leading with four receptions and one touchdown each. The Mountaineers run defense allowed just 86 yards on the ground and Pirates committed one, two, or too many penalties to hang with App State.

This could be one of the tougher matchups to predict. Miami played the defending national champion last week, and one the best programs in college football history that remains in the middle of a historic run. Alabama has been making a lot of programs look bad on any given day. Can we actually read anything into that game? Does it tell you anything about Miami? Just because Miami could not keep up with Alabama last week does not mean that they cannot have a successful season, and make a lot of teams look bad. It’s almost like it is Week 1 all over again for Miami. The Hurricanes response this week will be critical. Manny Diaz and staff really need a win. We know how this works for App State. Not a must win, but in order to take the next step as a program, beating Miami will go a long way. It’s not often that the Mountaineers get their opportunities to play a game like this after having one under its belt. Prior to 2019, games against Georgia, Tennessee and Penn State were on opening weekend. In 2019, App State took advantage of having worked out some kinks to knock off North and South Carolina. Is that the recipe for P5 success? We’ll see. But we do know, that in 2020, Miami secured double digit margins of victory over five opponents. Those opponents were UAB, Louisville, Florida State, Pitt and Duke. Those teams were a combined 21-30 last season. There might not be much to this, but it does seem to be worth noting. Manny Diaz has long been known as a good defensive coordinator, but the Canes surrendered 27ppg last year and 408 yards per game in total offense. The Hurricanes scheme tends to use their overall speed to create havoc for opposing offenses. They tout their tackles for loss and turnovers in the media guide. That could be a major key for App State on Saturday. Limit negative plays, such as penalties, and take care of the ball. But is the havoc defense enough? If those negative plays are limited, and the turnover jewelry stays in its trunk, does a good defense exist? One last thing on D’Eriq King. He is 24 years old, and six projected starting NFL quarterbacks are younger than he. At Houston he played wide receiver in his first two seasons before moving to quarterback on a more full time basis in his later years, while still running the football quite a bit. He’s played a lot of football, yet has appeared in just sixteen games in his last three years of football, while also rehabbing an injury.

The First Pick

Depressions 30

Mountaineers 21

Miami @ Appalachian Football

Here we go with Week 3

Miami (2-0) @ Appalachian State (1-1)

Saturday, September 17th, 2016 12:00 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

Kidd Brewer Stadium

Surface: FieldTurf

Capacity: 23,150
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 72.03
Miami: 80.68
Home: 2.61
Miami is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 6 points (rounded)
Sportsbook: Miami -4
Series: first meeting
Last meeting: n/a

       We’ve made it, almost. Saturday isn’t quite here yet, but it’s getting closer and the talk of looking ahead and focus can be set aside. Five-time national champion Miami is coming to Boone, and our small mountain town may never be the same. Plenty of big games have been played at Kidd Brewer, and plenty of lofty rankings have come with the opponents that have battled against Appalachian, but none bigger than what we’ll witness this Saturday. The Hurricanes are perfectly nestled into the Top 25. The Mountaineers might have the most talented team they have ever assembled. The Hurricanes are adjusting with a new coaching staff, a young roster, and the first road trip as a group this weekend. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers are settled in, having just completed their home opener, and are patiently waiting just like everyone, for the biggest game of their lives. 

       Miami has hardly been tested on the young season. They have easily taken care of two in-state opponents in Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic. Neither team will be very good this season, and it’s doubtful either sees postseason football of any sort. The Hurricanes kept it very simple in those opening wins, getting adjusted to playing together and tuning their offense to Mark Richt’s liking. Miami has safely kept the ball on the ground, playing to the strength of their offensive line. Their defense blitzes about half the time and early returns show that success, as Miami leads the nation in sacks and tackles for loss. 

       When Miami hired Mark Richt, both sides were looking for a fresh start. Miami had been through a series of head coaches since 2007, and their record of 64-49 since that time was unlike what the ‘Canes had been used to. Richt was a good coach in his previous 15 seasons at Georgia, but not great enough for the high demands of coaching in the SEC, despite 14 winning seasons, 15 bowl games, 145 wins and six occurrences with the Bulldogs inside the top 10 of the final AP Poll. Richt’s return to Miami was a homecoming, as he backed up eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly when he played for the Hurricanes from 1978-82. 

       Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya’s name has been mentioned in the same breath as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson as one of the first signal callers to be selected in 2017 NFL Draft, assuming both declare. Over the course of the year, Kaaya will get better with Richt’s coaching, but has started the season a little slow. That follows a sophomore season season where Kaaya also underwhelmed, throwing just 15 touchdown passes, compared to his freshman season where he threw for 26 touchdown passes. Some fail to remember that the 2014 Miami team included Phillip Dorsett and Duke Johnson, both who are contributors for their respective NFL squads, the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns. Kaaya has hovered around a 60% completion percentage his entire career and prefers to stay in the pocket rather than use his legs.

       As mentioned earlier, Miami has been running the ball all over their opponents this season. Three runningbacks ran for over 100 yards against FAMU, and two rushers eclipsed that mark against FAU. Thus far, the Hurricanes have 652 rushing yards on only 75 attempts, good for a team average of 8.7 yards per carry. Mark Walton leads with 271 yards and five touchdowns while Joseph Yearby is not far behind with 226 yards and three touchdowns on the young season. 

       If we want to be super critical, Appalachian has really yet to put together a full 60 minutes this season. With only seven points scored in the second half in two games, one can only wonder if the Apps have been holding their cards close to their vest. The offense was super vanilla last week in the second half against Old Dominion, but the defense was never really threatened, even after repeated attempts by ODU to gain a new set of downs on fourth down. Marcus Cox was his typical self, with 18 carries, 133 yards and three touchdowns. 

       This Miami game is not measuring stick for Appalachian this season. Regardless of the result, there will still be 9 games left to play in the regular season, and the goals of winning the Sun Belt remain. However, the opportunity lingers. We are fully aware of how big a win like one over Miami will be for the program. Recruiting, donations, interest in the school, etc. We have all seen it first hand. What App fans have not had, is the chance to celebrate as one in our own house. But, before we can rejoice in victory, we must win a football game. Small detail, right? The Mountaineers have been tested this season, and surely that bad taste from Tennessee has not been forgotten. Miami has cake walked in their opening games, and have been able to out-athlete their opponents. Miami has been comfortable, playing in their own digs, with all the luxuries that come with being at home. If the same attention that was given to Josh Dobbs and Jalen Hurd over two weeks ago is repeated, Appalachian will really put itself in good position. The Miami program and coaches have played in many games with racous crowds, but not the 2016 version. How many times has this 2016 Miami team traveled on the road to a town that might be holding the biggest event in its history? I’m not saying Miami isn’t good, or can’t be good this season, I just don’t think they’ll be good enough this Saturday. 

The First Pick

Storks 20

Mountaineers 27

Seth Grant Senior Season Starts

GMU 6.0  21  21  88 0.00 ND
LSU 5.2  23  25  97 3.09 L, 0-1
Rider 5.0  19  23  100 2.70 W, 1-1
Davidson 8.0  27  29  13  97 2.92 W, 2-1
Citadel 6.0  20  26  10  98 3.52 W, 3-1
Elon 9.0  30  31  11  10  117 2.72 W, 4-1
Oakland 5.0  18  21  84 2.42 W, 5-1
Charleston 8.0  29  31  12  100 2.22 W, 6-1
GSU 4.2  10  24  28  96 2.98 L, 6-2
Furman 6.0  5 23  30  96 3.27 ND
Wofford 6.2  25  27  107 3.34 ND
UNCG 6.0  24  26  110 3.08 ND
Samford 7.0  23  29  111 2.82 ND
WCU 7.0  10  30  31  11  113 2.70 ND
Samford 4.2  21  24  77 3.33 L, 6-3
Virginia 6.0  23  30  118  3.49 W, 7-3


Seth Grant was drafted in the 26th round (No. 797 overall) by the Miami Marlins. The durable right-hander set Appalachian’s single-season record with 100.2 IP, and ranks among the program’s all-time leaders with 40 career starts (fifth), 245 innings pitched (sixth) and 180 strikeouts (tied for seventh).

Appalachian State Men’s Basketball: Appalachian @ Miami 12/30/2011

The first game of a three game road trip sent the Mountaineers to South Beach, but their talents did not follow them. A  modest 15 spread left me thinking all about the Mountaineers and how well they had fared at Minnesota and North Carolina, both games where Appalachian was big underdogs, yet managed to cover. I was wrong as another poor shooting performance saw the Mountaineers fall to the Hurricanes by a score of 84-54. My record fell to 3-4 on the season.