Here we go with Week 2:
North Carolina A&T (0-0) @ #21 Appalachian State (0-1)
Time: 6 pm
Radio: WKBC 97.3 Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Winston Salem, Hickory & High Country; WATA 1450 Boone, Blowing Rock; WCOG 1320 Winston-Salem, Greensboro; WMFR 1230 High Point, Greensboro; WSML 1200, Burlington, Greensboro; WCMC 99.3 Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill; WZGM 1350 Black Mountain, Asheville; WTOE 1470 Spruce Pine; WPWT 870 Bristol, Johnston City; WZGV 730 Charlotte, Rock Hill, Salisbury; WDNC 620 Durham, Raleigh; WHKP 1450 Hendersonville; WAZZ 1490 Fayetteville; WLON 1050 Lincolnton
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Surface: Field Turf
App State: 61.32
North Carolina A&T: 42.83
Home: 6.49 points
Appalachian is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 25 points (rounded).
5dimes.com: App State -14
Series: Appalachian leads 5-1
Last Meeting: Appalachian 58, North Carolina A&T 6, September 10, 2011
WXAPP’s Boone Gameday Weather Trends:
Gameday: Slight risk for shower or isolated storm
Tailgate: Temps in the lower to mid 70’s
Kickoff: Temps in the lower 70’s
End of Game: Temps in the mid 60’s
Last week was not what anyone expected. Many could accept a loss in the opening game, as so many indicators in the past could have pointed out. Appalachian was winless to the west of the Mississippi River, playing a tough opponent, at a tougher venue. The most surprising aspect of the game that everyone wants to forget is the poor performance of the offense, especially one that had all the makings of being exceptional. What we feared the most was the health of the starting quarterback, Jamal Londry-Jackson. We predicted that Londry-Jackson would not be healthy once the season started. Whether or not he was 100% recovered from knee surgery was also speculated. Seems we nailed that one, as Londry-Jackson suffered a pinched nerve that caused numbness in the left arm for a brief period during the game, which caused him to miss over a quarter of action. Londry-Jackson carried the ball six times in the game, a far cry from his 16 carries against the Griz a year ago. We called for eight carries, and even that seemed to be high. We also wanted to see Londry-Jackson showcase his passing ability, which is any area he also struggled. The total yardage (89) and yards per attempt (4.2) were easily the worst of his career. Only at Western Carolina last year has Londry-Jackson thrown for fewer yards in a game he started. Coincidentally, Londry-Jackson was also injured in that game.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, the reason Appalachian lost last week was not all on the shoulders of the quarterback. An offensive line that terribly outmatched was dominated by the Griz. Even when backup Kameron Bryant entered the game, he needed to buy time in the pocket and create offense on his own down the field. The front five had difficulty protecting the quarterback, allowing for routes to develop downfield, and also could not open holes for the Appalachian run game. No rhythm was established, and that is what “Always Attack” is all about. We have always felt that Scott Satterfield and his play calling were most successful when a rhythm was created. With the play caller now being on the sidelines, it provided an arduous task for the rookie head coach.
Disregarding the obvious downfalls of the offense, the defense was easily the best group on the field for the Mountaineers last weekend. The new look defense with plenty of fresh faces held off Montana as long as they could. On Montana’s first drive, the Griz methodically marched 53 yards on 12 plays, only to see it end on a failed fourth-down conversion. On that drive, eventual SoCon freshman of the week John Law made two tackles, on the first play from scrimmage, and on the last one. On the Griz’ second drive, they strung together eleven plays that ended when Ronald Blair recovered a fumble inside the Mountaineer’s own ten yard line. Montana would score on their next three drives, but the 16-0 halftime score still had the Mountaineers in the game. Montana’s next fourteen plays in the second half went for a total of 50 yards, as the Mountaineers scratched to within ten points. However, the Griz sealed the game with two fourth quarter touchdowns after a Kameron Bryant fumble inside the Griz red zone. The defense kept it a game for a lot longer than they probably should have, and that is something to look forward to as this young group only gets more experienced each week.
It is not often we start with a review of the last the game for so long, but it was needed. North Carolina A&T provides a different challenge. Usually all teams have played on opening weekend, but A&T did not play last week, and got an extra week to prepare, and rest for the first test of the season. The Aggies are coming off a decent 7-4 season from a year ago and they did all on defense. Statistically, the Aggies had the second ranked defense in the FCS, giving up only 253 yards a game. In turn, they only gave up fourteen points per game and less than 100 yards a game on the ground. D’Vonte Grant led the team a year ago with 88 tackles from his weakside linebacker position. Travis Crosby is the team’s second leading tackler (87) who also returns at rover, which is generally a hybrid of the safety position. D’Vonte Graham, is the leading cornerback for the Aggies, who is coming off a season where he picked off four passes. Graham is also an established punt returner who averaged over ten yards per return last season, including one that went the distance for a touchdown.
On offense, A&T is a team that is very methodical and prefers a slower pace. The Aggies ran the ball 476 times last season, right at 43 times per game, yet only gained 1,861 rushing yards on those carries. On the year, they averaged 3.9 yards per carry and managed an 800 yard rusher and 400 yard rusher on the season. Twenty-three of the team’s touchdowns came on the ground, compared to only four touchdowns in the air.
The Aggies returned a senior quarterback in Kindle Lewis, but he is suspended currently due to a couple unfortunate traffic charges. In his stead, A&T will run with Kwashaun Quick, a sophomore who played in ten games last year. Quick completed half of his passes (25/50) for 256 yards, but did throw four interceptions to just one touchdown pass. Quick also ran the ball 46 times for 196 yards. Quick is 6’0, 185 pounds and his backup a true freshman from Washington, DC is Oluwafemi Bamiro, who is 6’4 and 209 pounds. We have a good feeling we will see both of these quarterbacks at some point on Saturday.
Appalachian fans will hopefully give their team a pass for the poor performance in the first game. Luckily, the loss at Montana does not put the Mountaineers in jeopardy of any potential playoff situations. However, one does have to ask the question about the balance of team, considering the impending future of the program. We all want to see the seniors go out on a good note, yet if the season does not turn out the way it is expected, at what point do you start looking toward 2014 and beyond? Easy, we are not jumping off the bus just yet, nor will we ever. We just feel the question needs to be out there. North Carolina A&T may provide a small cure for what ails the Mountaineers this weekend, but an early open week might have an adverse affect on the Apps in the following week. We all want to say last week was an aberration, but what if it just a sign of things to come? Rarely do we cast so much doubt, but once again, we want to put it all out there. We have been all over the board on this prediction. One part wants to predict a closer than it should be game, where Appalachian struggles on offense before pulling away. However, the devilish feelings will prevail. Last week we hit on Montana’s total rushing yards, predicting 250 yards, and the Griz rolled up 246. We also feel good about mentioning the penalty flags, in which the Mountaineers were called for eight total infractions for sixty-eight yards. This week, I am going with a defensive shutout, but the Aggies will score some points. Whether it is by defensive or return touchdown, the Aggies will get on the board somehow. We might be slightly too confident in the Appalachian defense, but last week was a rather strong performance considering the situation. Certainly the Appalachian offense will find a groove, no matter who is taking snaps. I could see Scott Satterfield go with a platoon late in the game, simply as a way to get the younger players some reps for the future, and more importantly to keep Jamal Londry-Jackson as healthy as possible.
The First Pick:
Old Yellar 14