Appalachian Football vs New Mexico State

Appalachian State (2-2, 1-0 Sun Belt) vs New Mexico State (2-3, 0-1 Sun Belt)

Saturday, October 7th, 2017 3:30pm est

TV/Video: ESPN3

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: 67.40

New Mexico State: 58.11

Home: 1.94

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 11 points (rounded)

Sportsbook: App State -10.5

Series: App State leads 1-0

Last meeting: App State 37, New Mexico State 7, November 26th, 2016

          The last two weeks, have felt like years. Bye weeks can be like that, forget what happened in the previous game. Forget that the last opponent was a long lost rival, a game that had been eagerly anticipated, and ended with an unfortunate thud. I’ll never look at the number 19 the same ever again. The 19th amendment of the US Constitution gave women the right to vote, but I’ll be thinking about Wake Forest. Adele’s debut album was titled “19”, but I’ll be thinking about untimely penalties against Wake Forest. The atomic number of Potassium is 19, which has the oddest symbol of the periodic table; the letter “K”. In that football game we all love, the letter K stands for kicker, and of course the kicks we didn’t convert against Wake Forest. So the next time you eat a banana, you’ll think about Wake Forest. Try and forget that for the time being, and lets turn our focus to an improved New Mexico State team that looks to make a statement on their way out of the Sun Belt. Their sites are set on a bowl game, and they have an offense that can make that happen, especially in a down year for the Sun Belt. It’s rare that Appalachian loses a Homecoming game, but the Aggies are just the kind of team that can make it interesting. 

          Even though New Mexico State sits below .500 on the season, their losses are extremely respectable. Arizona State & Troy were lucky enough to get by in one possession games, and Arkansas got up early and held serve for the remainder of the game last weekend. The wins the Aggies have under their belt are against New Mexico and UTEP. Two teams that mean so much from a rivalry perspective, that wins over those schools were included in Doug Martin’s new contract that didn’t increase his salary but was very incentive laden. A victory over either school gives Martin a $5,000 bonus. He’ll also receive an additional $20,000 bonus for six wins or a bowl invite. 

          New Mexico State was trending up last year. Remember, the Mountaineers and Aggies teed it up in one of the final games of the 2016 season. New Mexico State beat Louisiana last year, and should have beaten Georgia Southern. They played South Alabama within a touchdown on the road in their final game. This improvement was in the works last season. Now they had their blowout games, but that hasn’t been the case this year. They lost to Arkansas by 18 points. In 2016, they had six such losses of 18 points or more.  

          The Aggies employ a typical three headed monster on offense, a tall pocket passer behind center, a very experienced running back and big target to throw to down the field. Tyler Rogers missed the App game last year due to a injury in practice the week of the game. Rogers is in the top ten in the country in several passing categories. Not in the Sun Belt, in the country. This is a team that likes to toss the ball around the yard. Rogers trails only UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph in passing yards. He’s fifth nationwide with 15 touchdown passes. His favorite target, Jaleel Scott has 543 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Scott can catch the ball all over the field and has sure hands. His lanky frame doesn’t have blazing speed, but his wide catch radius makes it easy on Rogers to find him. Larry Rose III ranks in the top ten for active FBS running backs in his career. Despite averaging just over four yards a carry, Rose III also an impact with his receiving skills, as he has snagged twenty-two passes this season. As Rose III goes, so do the Aggies. He has 38 carries for 243 yards in two Aggie wins, and just 33 carries for 154 yards in their losses.  

        Appalachian took the lead away from Wake Forest on three different occasions the last time out. They had nine more first downs, nearly two hundred more yards passing, and still outpossesed the Deacons by nearly eleven and a half minutes. It was a game that featured fewer than forty points, but only four punts, and zero turnovers. Taylor Lamb had a big day, with 372 passing yards, spread out among eight different receivers, all catching at least two passes. The Mountaineer running game is still a work in progress, but Terrance Upshaw worked hard for 86 yards whole Jalin Moore struggled and was clearly not 100% healthy. 

          A lot of the talk leading up this game has centered around the New Mexico State offense, and how much better they are. A good offense can help a defense improve just by default really. More time to rest and adjust, and you can pay defense a lot looser with the lead. While Appalachian was resting last weekend, preparing for the Aggies, the New Mexico State defense spent 41 minutes on the field defending the Razorbacks. Arkansas churned out a balanced 494 yards of total offense. At halftime of that game, Coach Doug Martin was interviewed, and mentioned that he was surprised how much Arkansas threw the ball. Immediately, all I could think about was him perhaps saying the exact same thing the following week. Out of necessity, the Mountaineers have been putting the ball up in the air more often. Now, that New Mexico State defense doesn’t really do anything exceptionally well. They are ranked in the mid-80’s in total defense, which is below average, and that team has a lot of travel miles on them between games. They have forced a few turnovers, but most of those came in their blowout of UTEP where they snatched five interceptions. UTEP started 0-5 this season and their coach just resigned. To quickly summarize, that is where this game is going to be won and lost. I have no doubt that New Mexico State might get a bunch of yards, but they have to be able to finish. App State has one of the best red-zone defenses in the country, allowing just five touchdowns in twelve attempts on the young season. The Aggies will have some drives, but App has also done well in forcing three and outs all season. The Apps must cut off those drives quickly and keep the New Mexico State offense off the field. 

The First Pick

Toy Guns 21

Mountaineers 34

Appalachian Football @ New Mexico State

Here we go with Week 12

Appalachian State (8-3, 6-1 Sun Belt) @ New Mexico State (3-7, 2-4 Sun Belt)

Saturday, November 26th, 2016 4pm est

TV/Video: ESPN3

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

Aggie Memorial Stadium 

Surface: Synthetic Turf

Capacity: 30,343

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 71.34

NMSU: 48.39

Home: 2.35

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 21 points (rounded)

Sportsbook: App State -17.5

Series: First Meeting 

Last meeting: n/a   


          Two weekends ago was not an ideal situation. But this past week, could not have been written any better. Marcus Cox etched his name deeper into the App State annals by becoming the program’s all time leading rusher on a twenty-five yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The game was long decided, but up until that run, it was somewhat in doubt whether or not Cox would reach the record in his final game at The Rock. Cox managed two carries for 17 yards in the first quarter, and ended the first half with 61 yards on eight carries, not quite halfway to the 137 yards he needed.  But the third quarter was a different story. Nine carries for 55 yards made breaking the record almost inevitable, and the deed was done on his third carry of the fourth quarter. Cox was buoyed by big runs all game long, registering six that went for 12 or more yards. Most of us have been very fortunate to witness the greatness of this program over the last few decades. We all knew that Kevin Richardson would have a chance to chase down John Settle. We all knew that Kevin Richardson’s record would be broken eventually, but Marcus Cox topped him in quick fashion. The only doubt was the injury Cox suffered earlier in the year, not knowing when he would return to action. We have all been witnesses to individual history, but football is a team game and chasing a second consecutive ten-win season is the next hurdle for the Mountaineers. 

          Finally, after three seasons, Appalachian will have played all members of the Sun Belt in its twenty-fourth conference game. App has played five Sun Belt teams three times before finally heading to Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Mountaineers will play New Mexico State again next season in Boone, and then likely never again, as the Aggies were not extended a invitation to remain in the Sun Belt, and has opted to go independent in 2018. This has been the second stint in the Sun Belt for New Mexico State, and likely their last. The Aggies seem to have the worst luck over the course of the program’s existence as they have dealt with being indepedent on more than one occasion and were in the WAC when several teams left to join other conferences, leading to the ultimate death of football in the Western Athletic Conference. It seems nobody really wants New Mexico State at their party. 

          It has been since 1960 that New Mexico State has played in a bowl game, which is the longest streak in the country. The Aggies have played in three bowls games in their history without losing one, and have four conference titles to their name over the course of 118 years of football. The last season New Mexico State finished with a winning record was in 2002, and the time before that as 1978. The program has won just 40% of their games they have played. 

          This year’s Aggie team is making strides under fourth year head coach Doug Martin. They have found some offense in 2016 and knocked off Lousiana-Lafayette for the second straight season back in October. Their 3-7 record could be much better if they had not lost the services of star running back Larry Rose III for three games. Rose III was basically a twenty carry running back prior to his injury, and has been eased back. Last week in the win over Texas State, Rose III looked like his old self with 168 yards on the ground. The 50-10 win was the most lopsided of the season, as the Texas State busses were involved in an accident en route to the game, which was eventually delayed. 

             New Mexico State is the top passing offense in the Sun Belt as junior Tyler Rogers has tossed at least one touchdown pass in every game except one this season. He has eclipsed three hundred yards on three occasions, including a 445 yard performance against Troy where he was bogged down with five interceptions. Despite leading the conference in yards, as a team New Mexico State is only eighth of eleven Sun Belt teams in passing efficiency. The Aggies are one of four Sun Belt teams coming in at under seven yards per pass attempt. The volume comes from game flow, and when teams know its coming, its easier to defend down the field and in the pocket. The Aggies give up three sacks per game, while the Mountaineers are tied with Troy sacking the opposing quarterback twenty-six times this season. 

          We suggested the cure for the App State offense would be Monroe, and boy was it. The Mountaineers put up a season high 637 yards of offense, powered by a 429 yard effort on the ground, which was also a season high. The result was a 9.2 yards per play average, which is basically unheard of. Taylor Lamb was solid with a 208 yard game, including his sixtieth career touchdown pass to Ike Lewis from sixty yards out. Lamb added 92 yards on the ground while Jalin Moore chipped in a ho-hum 135 rushing yards on thirteen carries. The offense will look to feast again on a very subpar defense that ranks 118th in the country. 

        As much as Monroe was improving last week, we can not go with out saying how much better New Mexico State has played at home this season. All three wins by the Aggies this season have come at home, and their only home loss was to Georgia Southern, who they really should have beat. New Mexico State exploded for fifty points last week, which may have more to do with Texas State’s unfortunate drive to the game than what the Aggies were able to do. Texas State turned the ball over five times and likely had their minds somewhere else. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they face a statistical mismatch against the Mountaineers. The Aggies are going to need Appalachian to be completely uninterested in playing, force turnovers and score points on almost every possession. That is unlikely to happen, as the Mountaineers have defensively accepted every challenge that has been thrown at them in conference play. Expect the Mountaineers to test the outer edges of the Aggie defense as two of the better linebackers in the league, Rodney Butler and Dalton Herrington man the interior and weak side of the formations. Look for at least one sack from Keenan Gilchrist or Devan Stringer as both New Mexico State starting tackles are freshman. 

The First Pick

Toy Guns 13

Mountaineers 42