Appalachian Football vs East Tennessee State

Appalachian State (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) vs. East Tennessee (0-0, 0-0 SoCon)

Saturday, August 31st, 2019 3:30pm

TV/Video: ESPN+

Radio: Boone/Blowing Rock: WATA 1450 AM & 96.5 FM; North Wilkesboro/Hickory/Charlote WKBC 97.3 FM; Asheville WZGM 1350 AM; Hendersonville WHKP 107.7 FM & 1450 AM; Charlotte/Gastonia WCGC 1270 AM; Charlotte WAVO 1150 AM; Raleigh/Durham Buzz Sports Radio 96.5 FM, 99.3 FM, The Ticket 620 AM; Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point WSJS 101.5 FM & 600 AM

Kidd Brewer Stadium

Capacity: 30,000

Surface: FieldTurf

Jeff Sagarin Ratings

App State: 74.54

East Tennessee: 45.39

Home: 2.25

App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 31.5 points (rounded)

Line: App State -32.5

Series: App State leads 31-14-1

Last meeting: Appalachian 21, East Tennessee 7, October 28, 2003, Boone, NC

WxCrum Forecast: Sunny, Mid 70’s thoughout the game

After an offseason of quotable quotes in the media and instagram stories from Willow Valley, it’s finally time to see what new head coach Eliah Drinkwitz can do in Boone. We have all been lucky. We have not done this that often. A new football coach. For this particular corner of the internet, it’s just the second time, even though the first time didn’t really feel like much of a change. Sure, Jerry Moore was an outside guy when he was hired, but nobody considers him as such today. Scott Satterfield was about as far away from being an outsider as you can get. Former player and assistant turned head coach. This was his school. Now it’s for time for Drinkwitz, who may be as much of an outsider as Jerry Moore was in 1989. Or perhaps not. Jerry Moore did not really have much of “mid-major” resume in college football outside a few years at Southern Methodist and North Texas. But hey, that’s Texas football. It’s a big deal in the Lone Star state. Drinkwitz has spent several years in Group of Five football, and he understands what he is up against. Additionally, Drinkwitz has spent time with coaches who know about App State, and coached in the state of North Carolina prior to his arrival, unlike Moore did thirty years ago. One thing is for certain. The expectations remain. The shelves are stocked. It’s just a matter of time before we see how a new piece of the puzzle fits.

Welcome back to the party, East Tennessee State. The last time Appalachian and ETSU met in 2003, it was the last season of football for the Buccaneers. In 2015, East Tennessee was back on the field after the Tennessee Board of Regents approved a $125 student fee in order to restart the program. After one season as an FCS independent, the Southern Conference welcomed back the Bucs like they also did with VMI when they left the conference for over a decade. The 2015 season for ETSU looked much like a typical startup football program. They played a bunch of schools whose names belong on the play-in game line of the NCAA tournament and they went 2-9. After two more seasons with better results, but still below .500, something clicked. In 2018, the Bucs went 8-4, shared the Southern Conference title with Furman & Wofford and advanced the the FCS Playoffs. That was just their second ever appearance in the FCS playoffs. The season included six wins over conference opponents by a combined 16 points.

Buccaneer head coach Randy Sanders is an old school Tennessee homeboy. Most of his coaching and playing career has been spent in the eastern part of the Volunteer State outside of a few years at Kentucky and Florida State. His hometown of Morristown is about halfway between Knoxville and Johnson City, so if anyone knows about the Blue Ridge area of Tennessee, it’s Randy Sanders. This will be Sanders second season at the helm for the Bucs, and also just his second as a head coach.

Most of the news out of Bucs camp this summer has been surrounding the quarterback battle. East Tennessee made headlines when it was announced that former Miami quarterback Cade Weldon and Coastal Carolina quarterback Chance Thrasher were transferring in to the program. Since, Weldon has been hurt, and Thrasher has won the job. Thrasher has worked through injuries throughout his entire collegiate career. Thrasher played sparingly last year against App State. And I mean, sparingly. Three plays. That’s it.

1st and 10 at APP38 Thrasher, C. rush for 1 yard to the APP37 (Diarrassouba, E).
2nd and 9 at APP37 Thrasher, C. rush for 4 yards to the APP33 (Flory, Anthony;Willis, Chris).
3rd and 5 at APP33 Thrasher, C. rush for 1 yard to the APP32 (Willis, Chris).

Quay Holmes is back for the Bucs. The sophomore returns after a really good redshirt freshman year where he did most of the work on offense. Holmes fell just short of 1000 yards rushing on the season, but was heavily involved in the passing game as well, catching 34 passes for 279 yards. He is a preseason SoCon first-team running back and also adds another dimension in the return game. Holmes had a long kick return of 69 yards, and sported a 27.3 yard average on ten total returns. And oh yeah, he scored fifteen! touchdowns last year.

Most of us are familiar enough with what App State returns, just about everyone on both sides of the ball. The team has had a spring and a fall full of practices and meetings. Learning the plays should not be an issue, but execution in live game action, against another opponent will be key. How will the players react when they look to the sideline, and an unfamiliar face is waiting. Of the losses that could impactful, many mention the defensive backs, mainly because of who is gone. The first two weeks of the season should be plenty of time to get adjusted to the pressure of a starting defensive back. I could have sat here and spouted off everyone’s names and stats from last year, but honestly, you have been doing that for nine months. No need to waste your time. We’ll dive into the statistics as soon as we have some.

Make no bones about it, Randy Sanders understands the difficult task his team has in front of him. He was quoted not once, not twice, but three times, saying that playing App State will be tough. Sanders also harked on the twelve years that ETSU didn’t have a program, and mentioned how App State has elevated just about everything about their program while the Buccaneers were without their own. He’s marveled about App State’s speed on defense, which just about every coach has done ever. Not exactly breaking news to the Mountaineer faithful. The real question before us, is what exactly can ETSU do to App State in 2019. Last season, the two schools had one common opponent, Gardner-Webb. I don’t believe you can take much out of one school beating a team by 65 points, and another beating that same school by 45 points. It is a wash. But, ETSU is unequal to 2017 Savannah State, 2015 Howard and 2014 Campbell. Those teams have been the FCS teams the Mountaineers have played since moving up. When this game was scheduled, ETSU was just bringing the program back, and it appeared like a fairly easy win. As we all know, a lot can change in a few short years. You either believe that ETSU will continue their winning ways from last year, or you believe that 2018 was a complete outlier. I believe the latter. They won too many close games for my liking. They are breaking in a new center, a new quarterback, and a middle linebacker. That is a lot of pieces missing in the middle of the field. Additionally, the Bucs will have freshmen manning the kicking and punting duties, and that’s a tough deal for a team that won six games by three points or fewer a season ago. A big part of that was with a decent defense that kept them in games a lot. The Bucs have a solid secondary, and nightmare at defensive end in Nasir Player, but other than a couple young running backs, these Bucs just don’t have the firepower to hang.

The First Pick

Easy Teezy 12

Mountaineers 42

Men’s Basketball vs Furman

Appalachian hosts the Paladins in a non-conference matchup Tuesday night from the Holmes Convocation Center. Furman claimed a ten point win over Presbyterian last Friday while the Mountaineers downed Jacksonville by eight on Saturday. 

The Apps were lead by Chris Burgess’ 18 points in the win over JU while Emarius Logan added 13 in the victory. Furman might be without Stephen Croone who led the Paladins in scoring last season. Croone is dealing with a thumb injury. 
Appalachian is a 3.5 point favorite. No line was available for the Jacksonville game. The official pick is for Appalachian -3.5 considering Furman only managed 63 points in their first outing and App looks to improve on a 76 point output in which they missed a lot of easy shots. 

One more month of baseball…

The headline makes it sound like a depressing post that dreads the end of the season, but it is exactly the opposite. There are a minimum of sixteen games remaining, including two games in the SoCon Tournament, but hopefully there are more. Dreams of an at large bid in the NCAA tournament are just that, not only for Appalachian, but for the entire SoCon. The league will have one representative this year and it will all come down to Memorial Day weekend in Charleston, SC. Although a couple schools have created breathing room in the conference standings, there is not a clear favorite to win in May.

Davidson, who the Mountaineers host this weekend, has been in control for the majority of the conference slate. The Wildcats maintain a four game cushion over the Mountaineers, but there is only a three game difference in the loss column. Positioning is key for the Mountaineers for the SoCon tournament. A sweep by either team this weekend in Boone will be big for the tournament. Appalachian has yet to sweep or be swept by any SoCon school this season. However, the Mountaineer bats are coming alive in their last sixteen games, averaging over seven runs per contest. In the Mountaineers first twenty three games, the Apps failed to score ten or more runs in a game. In the last sixteen games, the Apps have hit double digits in runs in six games.

Even with a more explosive hitting attack, the Mountaineers have been without one of their stars in Dillon Dobson who has had shoulder soreness for several weeks now. Billy Jones has juggled the batting order, but it has worked to their advantage. Five different players have taken their turns swinging the bat efficiently including three who are over .300 on the season. Freshman Matt Brill is currently batting .371 with three home runs. Tyler Stroup has been a nice surprise playing left field, batting .303, with two-thirds of hits being singles on the season. Michael Pierson is batting .309 with five home runs and twenty RBI. Pierson leads the team in hits, walks and total bases and is tied for the team lead in runs scored.

A more important key to Appalachian success this weekend against Davidson is the pitching staff. The weekend rotation of Jamie Nunn, Tyler Moore and Jeffrey Springs has been incredibly solid of late. Nunn has been abused by bad luck the most this season, but his last two starts have been very promising. Tyler Moore has been the biggest surprise of them all. Moore can throw forever, and leads the team with four complete games and sports an 8-2 record with a 3.08 ERA. Sunday starter Jeffrey Springs leads the team in with five starts resulting in a no decision. Springs leads the team in strikeouts despite one fewer start than Nunn and Moore. Assuming 27 innings are played this weekend, Appalachian needs the starters to pitch at least 20-22 innings. The bullpen is limited and cannot be relied on to carry the team.

Davidson has only played two games in the last eleven days, having been victimized by weather with three rain outs. The Wildcats are 3-3 in their last six games and their last three Friday night games have all been decided by one run. Should be a great series to watch in Boone as weather does not seem to be a threat to cancel any games.

 

Men’s Basketball @ Chattanooga

App basketball is getting 7.5 tonight at UTC. I’ll take the Mocs in this one.

— (@bigCasu) March 1, 2014

 

App has scored a whopping ten points in the second half.

—  (@bigCasu) March 1, 2014

 

When Obacha is your leading scorer…

—  (@bigCasu) March 2, 2014

@bigCasu ….you score 44 points and lose by 19.

— App Hoops (@AppHoops) March 2, 2014

 

All Capel talks about is playing for March. Well, it’s March and nothing has changed. It’s over in less than a week.

—  (@bigCasu) March 2, 2014

The end result was a 63-44 Mountaineer loss. Chalk another one up for the good guys, who sadly picked against Appalachian.

Elon @ Men’s Basketball

7:57 AM: Elon is favored by a whopping three points today over App. The Mountaineers covered a double digit spread on the road earlier this year at Elon.

The Phoenix dropped two in a row in the Western swing in conference play recently, at Sammie and Chatty. Elon won over WCU on Thursday.

Elon is 6-20 ATS on Saturdays it’s last three seasons, while the Apps are shockingly 15-8 ATS. Elon usually doesn’t play well in Boone.

@bigCasu: Elon has only won once in Boone since they joined the SoCon. Will Capel’s crew
break another dubious stat line today with a loss?

1:29 PM: Official pick, Elon -3.

Post game: App had on their best shooting performances for the season on Saturday, but Elon shot better in all three categories to hang on for a seven point win. It was enough to cover the minuscule three point spread. It was our second straight win on the season. Next up is The Citadel at home on Thursday, where I expect close to a double digit spread in favor of the Apps.

Men’s Basketball @ The Citadel

7:37 AM: App Basketball @ The Citadel tonight and the Mountaineers are a one point favorite. Lines haven’t moved lately. Leaning Citadel at home.

1:17 PM: We have movement. App now favored by 1.5 at El Cit tonight. Capel, nor any player on roster has beaten the Citadel in their careers.

5:58 PM: Citadel is 6-8 ATS this season but has not been this slight of an underdog all season long. Meanwhile, App covered in its last game where it was a 2 point favorite at home against Georgia Southern. The Citadel has mostly been a huge underdog this season, part of the reasoning for many of their covers. This an Appalachian play for some reason. Don’t like it, but that will be the pick.

9:00 PM: Apps win their second game of the year with a 80-67 tally over The Citadel. Apps easily cover the spread, and we were correct with our pick.

Chattanooga @ Men’s Basketball

7:11 AM: Appalachian has opened as a three point favorite tonight. Vegas must believe home court matters in a series where thirteen straight games in this series have been won by the home team. Appalachian’s overall record is 4-12, but still has not recorded a victory over a D1 team. Chattanooga is a different team, with a new style and head coach. The Mocs have yet to lose a game in conference play (4-0), and are 10-8 overall. The Mocs have a tougher than advertised inside game which should the Mountaineers fits. Tevin Baskin will play fewer than normal minutes according to Jason Capel, which we feel is a huge mistake. This line might move, but it won’t be enough to change my mind. Chattanooga is the pick here at +3.

The Mocs rolled to any easy cover as Appalachian could not hold an early ten point lead. We pick up a somewhat big upset W on the year.

UNC-Greensboro @ Men’s Basketball

7:15 AM: First look at tonight’s spread between App and UNCG, favored the Mountaineers by 3, which is now moved to 4. As of now, would consider App at 3, and hesitate at 4. Generally this wouldn’t be a game where you would make your play moments before tipoff.

10:26 PM: The spread never moved throughout the day. Somehow the oddsmakers thought App should get their first Division 1 win of the season on this night. The experts don’t know this team like I do. My official pick was made on twitter shortly after 5pm. Despite UNCG winning only one road game this season, I took the road team and the points. UNCG went on to grab at 66-60 SU ATS win. App is now 0-11 against D1 schools and App drops to 1-6 ATS. I will tabulate my wins tomorrow. Feel positive I am over .500 on the season. I expect a big 16 or 17 point spread against Davidson.

Men’s Basketball @ Elon

6:49 AM: Elon is a 14 point favorite tonight, but the Phoenix are only 4-7 ATS the spread this year. #AppStateBBall

1:10 PM: App/Elon spread stands at 14. Not likely to move with a team, (App), involved that has yet to cover in any lined games (0-5). Sneaky gut feeling that App might cover tonight.

6:16 PM: Point spread has dropped to 13 tonight for App & Elon. Kind of what I expected. Has to turn around eventually. I’ll take the Apps to cover despite losing a point from earlier today.

9:03 PM: Apps lose 75-66 after trailing by 15 at halftime. Largest deficit was twenty points. Canty scored twenty points and Baskin added 19. My instincts were correct. Elon falls to 4-8 ATS and App covers for the first time this year. Improves to 1-5 ATS.

Appalachian Football @ Wofford

Here we go with Week 11:

Appalachian State (2-8, 2-4 SoCon) @ Wofford (5-4, 4-2 SoCon)

Time: 1:30 pm

TV/Video: http://athletics.wofford.edu/showcase/?DB_OEM_ID=21500

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

Gibbs Stadium

Surface: Natural Grass

Capacity: 8,500

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 


App State: 44.15

WC: 47.13

Home: 3.91

Wofford is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 7 points (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 17-12        

Last Meeting: Wofford 38, Appalachian 28, Oct. 20, 2012, Boone 

WXAPP’s Spartanburg Gameday Weather Trends

Mostly Cloudy with temperatures in the lower 60’s. Chance for a shower or two.

            For the first time since that gorgeous day in Ann Arbor, six years, the Mountaineers played a game against an FBS opponent and had the home fans booing their team when the players exited the field at halftime. We have always had a comment or a theme about these games when our team is outnumbered and outgunned. We might not win the game, but the ultimate goal is to let everyone know in Athens, (Ann Arbor, Auburn, etc) that the Mountaineers were here. Obviously this sounds better in a parking lot before or after a game versus the written word, but the point is made. Georgia might have run a fake punt against Appalachian because Chattanooga was successful the week before. It’s also quite possible that the Bulldogs were slightly worried in the second quarter that the Mountaineers were hanging around a little longer than they had hoped. We’ll never know what thoughts were running through the minds of coaches wearing red and black this past Saturday. I doubt it would surprise anyone if just one of them was thinking about being on the wrong end of a lead story on just about every sports show for the next week. The final score may have resulted in a loss, but the gain was the confidence in the minds of the players that they have the talents and the minds to do something that nobody expected. The first half was just that. It was only a fraction of the story on Saturday. But for an hour or so, Appalachian players and fans had forgotten their record, and were sitting on the edge of their seats with each play. Sometimes, the game is not always about winning, and that is certainly true this season. But the fact remains: Nothing beats being a Mountaineer.

            There is only so much that can be drawn from such a lopsided score than everyone expects. Georgia and their depth eventually powered through in the second half, while the Mountaineers could not overcome missed opportunities in the first half. Appalachian was in position to score on four of their six first half possessions. Four times they advanced the ball from their end of the field into Bulldog territory. And coincidentally, four times they lined up to kick a field goal, struggling to score a touchdown. The chance to give Georgia a big scare was there, but the Mountaineers could not convert. On those four drives, prior to attempting the field goals, the Mountaineers averaged 13.7 yards to gain to convert the third down. All those series of downs began just like every other drive starts, with a first down, and ten yards to gain. On three of the four drives, the offensive line was responsible for the lost yardage due to false starts. App was penalized in all, on four of their six first half drives, and sometimes twice on a couple drives. Eliminating penalties is asking too much. Imagine just cutting those yellow flags in half, and the Mountaineers would have been in better position to convert those third downs, and maybe, score one touchdown in the first half.

            Mentioning the second half is virtually pointless. Georgia scored on its first five possessions of the second half and put the game away. The one possession game slowly turned into the anticipated bloodbath. On those five possessions in which Georgia scored in the second half, the Bulldogs had at least one play of over 20 yards on every single drive. It didn’t matter who was in at quarterback for Georgia. The Mountaineers didn’t help their cause, as Marcus Cox and Kam Bryant were both responsible for an ugly fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter. At that point the game was decided. Appalachian could only muster 44 total yards in the second half. Three drives lost yards in the second half. Georgia clamped down on defense and avoided any potential upset.

            There were very few highlight performances from the Mountaineers in the game. The running game was difficult as we expected. Marcus Cox somehow grinded out a very tough 59 yards on twenty-three carries. Kam Bryant completed below 60% of his passes. Andrew Peacock was the benefactor of the short passing game the Mountaineers employed, catching twelve passes for 90 yards. Tony Washington was the deep threat to an extent, averaging 15.6 yards per catch for 78 yards in all. The defense made a couple big plays with Karl Anderson and John Law intercepting passes. Anderson’s pick was a big part of the Mountaineers sticking around in the first half. Law’s pick came late, but gave him his team-leading third interception of the year.

            The beauty of SoCon football returns to the schedule this week, as the Mountaineers will play in a stadium with less than ten percent of the fans than the previous game. The Mountaineer defense will also have to adjust after facing a traditional I-formation to the infamous wingbone that Wofford runs. The Terriers were right in the middle of the SoCon title hunt before facing Samford and Chattanooga in their last two games, both losses. The Terriers could possibly still clinch a share of the title, but lose tiebreakers to both Samford and Chattanooga due to losses in the last two weekends. Depending on the last two games, Wofford could finish anywhere from a tie for first to fourth place. Wofford will need a win in both of its last two games, against Appalachian and Furman to even give themselves a chance to make the playoffs. The next Wofford loss will decide their postseason fate in any fashion.

            In the last month, the Terriers have not only lost to Samford and Chattanooga, but have also snuck out wins over the bottom of the SoCon barrel in Western Carolina and Elon. The Terriers trailed Elon 24-7 at the half before rallying for 24 second half points and winning by four at home. In Cullowhee, the Terriers score fourteen second half points while shutting out Western in the second half to win once again by four points.  The difference in those two wins was keeping the opponent off the board. Western and Elon combined for one measly field goal in the second half of their games against Wofford. It will be another long Saturday for Mountaineer faithful if Wofford has similar success as they did against Western and Elon.

            It may seem simple to understand what needs to be accomplished to hold back the Wofford offense. We all know about how much they like to run the ball. Their rushing attack, if successful, sets up their unpredictable passing game. The key is that simple. Just like any other option attack, you have to keep them behind the chains on first and second down and force those long yardage situations. That is a given, and its no secret. Looking deeper, the success of their running game has directly led the Terriers to their wins and losses. The cutoff line for Wofford is right at 250 total rushing yards. There are some slight outliers, in that they rushed for 258 yards against Samford in a loss, and 249 yards were gained on the ground against Elon in a win. In the other seven games they have played, the 250 rushing yards is the line in which Wofford wins and loses. Against Baylor, Gardner-Webb, and Chattanooga, the Terriers averaged 163 yards rushing. In their four wins outside of the Elon result, Wofford rolled up 340 yards rushing per game. The Mountaineers must be disruptive in the Wofford backfield. That is their chance to beat the Terriers. Appalachian played well against Georgia Southern and Chattanooga recently, outside of letting Jacob Huesman run wild for the Mocs. Donavan Johnson has been the workhorse for Wofford, almost to his detriment. Johnson averaged 26.4 carries a game in the first five games of the season, before accumulating no stats against Western and Elon, presumably to an injury. In the last two games, he averaged 26.5 carries per game. So if he is out there, he is getting the ball, no question about it. In his absence, Jonny Martin, who is the team leader in rushing touchdowns, averaged over 20 carries and 107 yards against Western and Elon. The difficult part for Appalachian in planning for the Wofford rushing attack is determining which quarterback will play. Wofford has had four quarterbacks see significant time this season on the field. Will Gay is the only quarterback to play in every game and he leads the group with highest yards per rush. However, Gay appears to be the least accomplished passer, attempting only three passes on the season. In the end, as much as this game is about stopping Wofford, it is most important for Appalachian to score when they have the ball. That is simply what the season has come down to. If the Apps can score, they give themselves a chance. If they don’t, Wofford will slowly beat down the Appalachian defense for an easy win.

The First Pick:

Ankle Biters                21

Mountaineers              23