Appalachian State (2-2) vs The Citadel (1-2)
Saturday, October 1st, 2022 3:30pm EST
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), Varsity Network App
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 72.63
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 31.76 points
VegasInsider Line: n/a
Series: App State leads 29-13
Last Meeting: Citadel 31, App State 28 (OT) October 5, 2013, Charleston, SC
Let’s just get this over with. Nobody wants to dwell much on the past. We all know we can’t change it, but we do need to learn from it. We’ve added another unprecedented tally in the fourth game of the season. An ugly one at that. Twice this season the Mountaineers have given up insane scoring runs by their opponents in their own backyard. And twice, the other side of the ball could not come through for a score to break up those runs. Everyone needs to do their job better, not just the offense, defense, special teams or coaches. It’s a group effort. We are all in this thing together. Nothing is more humbling than giving up a game that was nearly in hand. And the previous week really should have put everyone on notice that nothing is over until it actually is. Bouncing back will be a challenge, and this season is still long from over. All the goals are well within reach, and if there is anything we have learned from this season, not a single team is immune to crazy.
The last time the Mountaineers faced James Madison was fourteen years ago. It has not been that long since App State played The Citadel, but the Bulldogs had the last laugh in this series. At that time, it was unknown whether or not these teams would ever face each other again. The Mountaineers have faced Elon once since their SoCon sayonara. The Citadel remains in the SoCon, a league that really has not changed much since the Mountaineers left. Mercer is now in the SoCon, and of course, ETSU is back. The Citadel has had a couple really good years since we last saw them, but otherwise have been pretty average. More recently, they have fallen on tougher times. The fall 2021 season was highlighted with four wins, over North Greenville, VMI, Wofford and Chattanooga. The Bulldogs played 4 games in the fall of 2020, losing all of them, and played an eight game conference slate in the 2021 spring season, registering a 2-6 record.
The Citadel sports a 1-2 record coming to Boone. They were on bye last week, so the Mountaineers get consecutive opponents with an extra week of rest. You can almost say Citadel did not play the week before either, as they fell to #20 Mercer by a 17-0 score. The Bulldogs managed just 151 yards offense on 63 plays. The previous week, they hit a field goal as time expired to beat ETSU 20-17, while holding possession of the ball for nearly forty minutes and being outgained by the Buccaneers on offense. In Week 1, Campbell cruised to a 29-10 win while the Citadel gained just 222 yards on the offensive side. So, as you can see, its pretty clear that the Bulldogs have not gained a lot of yards this year. In those first three games, they average just 231 yards per game at 3.7 yards yards per play. And somehow they have still managed to average 36 minutes of possession a game.
The most interesting story coming into this game belongs to Citadel quarterback Peyton Derrick. A graduate transfer from Wofford, many will remember that Derrick began his career at App State in 2017 and he was redshirted. The following year, Derrick made a memorable throw at Penn State after Zac Thomas had to exit the game for one play. He threw a pass to Dominique Heath on 4th and 2 for 22 yards that set up a touchdown. Fast forward to 2022 and now he will face the first school he played for in college. So far this season, it has been a mixed bag Derrick. He has completed just 17 of 34 passes for 176 yards, adding a couple touchdowns and interceptions. But that is not Citadel’s game. This a triple option team, that passes to catch you off guard, although 34 passes in three games is a little more than you would expect out of a true triple option offense. Derrick has carried the ball 44 times for 96 yards on the ground. Derrick has carried the ball the most of anyone on the team, but the Bulldogs tend to spread it out quite a bit. Three other backs have rushed at least twenty-one times, but no more than twenty-nine times. The triple option remains a guessing game like it always has been.
For the last time, we’ll speak to the game last weekend, and maybe never again. It was a historic collapse. Its understandable after several hard hitting games that our beloved Mountaineers are tired. Looking for normalcy, in a game without fourth quarter heroics or sixty minutes of hell, you see moment of relief and you finally catch your breath, at halftime. That was about thirty minutes too early. Letting up is easy and continuing to fight is hard although necessary. It became a tough lesson learned that will not soon be forgotten. The Mountaineers are still capable of turning this into a great season. It’s just really tough to imagine that after last week. That’s all it is, and it can be quickly fixed. Health is a key factor. We need rest in places and we need others to step up in the meantime. Some simplification worked for the defense from Week 1 to Week 2, and maybe that is something that also needs to occur for the offense. There have just been too many scoring droughts in these opening games.
The overall theme here, is that it has been an incredibly long time since the Mountaineers have waited until the fifth game of the season to play an FCS school. And let’s not be mistaken. James Madison is not an FCS school on paper. They have been good for a long time, and just miscast in the wrong subdivision. App State was this way for a long time as well. It was not long ago that the Sun Belt was the weakest FBS conference, but in four weeks time in 2022, predictably, it has an argument for being the strongest GS conference. In reality, it has been longer than four weeks. When App State played in first Sun Belt schedule in 2014, there were adjustments, and when they were made, the Mountaineers rattled off six wins in a row to finish the season, leaving Sun Belt stalwarts such as Louisiana and Arkansas State in the dust. The Sun Belt was a bad league then. It is not a bad league now. That’s a good thing. So when conferences across the country argue about playing FCS schools, or playing an extra conference game, one wonders what they are actually looking to accomplish. Do you want FCS games to pad that win total to become bowl eligible or do you want those FCS teams actually in your conference weighing you down. Whichever direction some of these conferences plan to go, expect more chaos with tougher conferences or bloated win totals that might make you feel better about yourself than you actually are. See, the old Southern Conference was not like that. Sure you had some schools that weren’t aligned as institutions of higher learning, but you also had tough football games each week. Whether you were defending the triple option variances from Citadel, Georgia Southern, Wofford or even VMI, or the pro style offenses of Furman and Samford or the run and shoot styles that Chattanooga and Elon sometimes employed. It was different every week, and winning that conference title meant that you earned something. That is what we have now in the Sun Belt, and with that, you will have a different wild ride each and every week. So yeah, we circle back to playing a team such as The Citadel, a former conference mate, with familiarity, and they are doing essentially the same thing they have always done. The Bulldogs do not look great on a stat sheet, but that is not anything they care about. They care about giving the football players that they can recruit, the best chance to win. Forget an offense that has not scored many points. Their pressure on you, is making fewer mistakes while playing keep away. So be prepared for the keeper and the counter, the option and the pitch, and make sure you jump on that ball when it finds the turf.
The First Pick