Appalachian Football @ The Citadel

Here we go with Week 5:

Appalachian State (1-3, 1-0) @ The Citadel (1-4, 1-2)

Time: 2:00 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

Johnson Hagood Stadium

Surface: Natural Grass

Capacity: 21,000

Jeff Sagarin Ratings: 

App State: 49.39

The Citadel: 48.52

Home: 4.34

The Citadel is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 3.5 points (rounded).

Series: Appalachian leads 29-12

Last Meeting: The Citadel 52, Appalachian 28, September 15th 2012, Boone, NC

WXAPP’s Charleston Gameday Weather Trends:

Mostly Sunny and humid, temps in the mid 80’s at kickoff

            For the second time this season, an overachieving team from a perceived lesser conference came to Boone and easily outworked the Mountaineers by playing their style of football to perfection. Three weeks ago, North Carolina A&T lulled Appalachian to sleep with solid defense and won a game of field position while capitalizing on the Mountaineer mistakes. Charleston Southern used a slightly different tactic, but was equally as successful. The Buccaneers’ plan was to take the air out of the ball by running as many play as possible while maintaining possession. Charleston Southern used second downs as a precursor of establishing what they wanted to do on third downs. It was a brilliant plan that worked the game clock to their favor on a massive scale. Winning the time of possession battle is important when you can hold the ball five to six minutes longer than your opponent. When the time of possession gap (24 minutes) is greater than your total time of possession, (Appalachian possessed the ball 18 minutes), it becomes the story of the game. Think about it in a point per possession/minute ratio. The Mountaineers held the ball 18 minutes and scored 24 points. That’s an average of 1.33 points scored per minute of possession. If Appalachian would have held the ball seven more minutes, they would have been more likely to score 32.5 points. Now imagine the same scenario with Charleston Southern, which averaged just two-thirds of a point per minute of possession. Take seven minutes away from their game total and they score right at 22.5 points. That kind of split would still have given the Buccaneers a possession edge of about ten minutes, but also a differential on the scoreboard that would have left them on the wrong end of the game. This provides a perfect example going into a game at The Citadel, which will likely employ a similar strategy of keeping the ball away from Appalachian with their option oriented offense. The Mountaineers have to get off the field, not just on third down, but on any down, by forcing the action to the offense this weekend.

            Much of the blame for losing to Charleston Southern is placed on a defense that had trouble containing the running game. We feel the Mountaineer offense is still not holding up to their part of the bargain this season. It’s understandable to see why Appalachian had trouble getting on the scoreboard, considering their lack of possession, but the Mountaineers still averaged 8.3 yards per play. They were moving the ball, but not getting into the red zone often enough, garnering only three trips inside the opponents’ twenty yard line. Two touchdowns and a field goal were scored on those chances, which should have been three touchdowns. A Sean Price drop on the goal line on a third a five stole four points from the Mountaineers that were desperately needed in such a close game. Once again, it’s the little things that have kept the Mountaineers out of the win column for the first third of the season.

            Marcus Cox may have cemented himself as the starting running back for years to come with his second straight solid performance. He is extremely versatile as a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. Despite only getting seventeen carries, he was productive with eighty-nine yards and two touchdowns on the ground and another ninety-one yards receiving to go along with another receiving touchdown. That gives him six touchdowns in two weeks as a starting running back. Cox is averaging 5.5 yards per carry, and 21.3 yards per catch. He scores a touchdown every 8.625 times he touches the ball and he is only going to get better.

            Coming into the season, The Citadel was looking to build on a successful season in 2012 in which they finished 7-4, and had wins over Appalachian State and Georgia Southern on consecutive weekends. Some have called 2013 the most anticipated Citadel season in decades, until they hit the thud that is now a 5-0 Charleston Southern team. Oddly enough, Charleston Southern beat both The Citadel and Appalachian on the road, by three points, in games where they trailed in the second half. The Citadel now sits at 1-4, with their lone win over Western Carolina. Looking at the remainder of their schedule, you can only count two probable wins in games against VMI and Elon. Clemson is likely the only guaranteed loss, while the group of Appalachian, Georgia Southern, Samford and Chattanooga are all games that could go either way.

            The Citadel’s offense revolves around the quarterback Ben Dupree, who torched the Mountaineers last year for 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns runs of 57 and 46 yards. The Citadel scored 31 points before Appalachian got on the board and started matching scores for the rest of the game. Dupree leads the team with eighty-one rushing attempts for 383 yards and eight of the team’s fourteen rushing touchdowns. Five of Dupree’s rushing touchdown runs came against Old Dominion, which has been historically known for poor defenses in the few years of their programs existence. The Monarchs have given up 484 yards a game this season, and twenty-four touchdowns to their opponents. Dupree’s three touchdown runs that were not against teams named Old Dominion went for 4, 1, and 1 yards respectively. His touchdown runs against Old Dominion went for 33, 13, 7, 2, and 19 yards. Dupree’s 4.7 yards per carry is decent, but is ballooned by a 6.2 yard per carry average against ODU and Western Carolina. Take out those two games, and Dupree has 29 carries for 108 yards against Furman, Wofford and Charleston Southern. We would like to think Appalachian’s defense is closer to the latter three teams than the previous two teams. The Mountaineers must contain Dupree and disrupt his rhythm. If you can get a quarterback in a triple option offense thinking twice, you have won the down. It only takes one down to get a triple option team behind the chains, and out of sync.

            The Citadel defense has held their own this season, ranking second in the SoCon only allowing 183 rushing yards a game and allowing only 4.1 yards per attempt while giving up 26 points per game. The points given up are about average, and are slightly skewed from giving up 59 points to Old Dominion. Where the Bulldogs get in trouble is in their defensive secondary. The Citadel allows 200 yards a game passing, but has faced some run heavy team in Charleston Southern, Wofford and Furman. The Citadel secondary allows opposing quarterbacks to complete 69.2% of their passes including 8.6 yards per attempt. Their pass efficiency defense is dead last in the conference while giving up 47% of their opponents third down conversions. The Mountaineers can be quite dynamic in the passing game with their ability to go over the top with Sean Price and the playmaking of Marcus Cox that can turn any short pass into a long gain. Getting the intermediate passing attack going in the middle of the defense will open up the edge for Appalachian.

            All week long, this game feels like another one of those “uh-oh”, “here we go again” games against on offense Appalachian could barely get two hands on last year. The inability of Appalachian to stop the straight ahead run game last week, or the methodical approach of Elon two weeks prior can really make the mind wonder what the Mountaineers are in for. However, if Appalachian wants to win this weekend, we believe it starts on the offensive side of the ball. The longer The Citadel gets to play their style of offense, the more likely they are to win this game. The only way Appalachian is going to be able to force the issue against the Bulldogs is by taking advantage when they have the ball. It is going to be a hot day in the low country, and the Mountaineer defense cannot afford to be on the field for another forty minutes as they were last Saturday. Appalachian must score at will, and at the same time, slow the game down a little bit. Offenses that are high in tempo are all the rage across all levels of football and most teams have been conditioned for it. We believe an old-fashioned grind it out affair will help the Mountaineers work the passing attack into the game slowly, and help the quarterbacks, whether it being Jamal Londry-Jackson or Kam Bryant, to find some open throwing lanes. Something has to give this weekend. Either Citadel wins their first home game of the season, or Appalachian contains the running game. We would like to think the defense will be more prepared for an offense that Nate Woody has seen before. It worked pretty well against Elon, forcing them out of their passing game. Woody’s defenses have beat The Citadel fourteen straight games since 1999, giving up an average of 13.5 points per game, allowing twenty points or more on only three occasions.

The First Pick:

Knobs                        16

Mountaineers              21

Men’s Basketball 77 The Citadel 80

The Citadel is not your average six win team. Even though three of their wins came in 2012, the Bulldogs have knocked off three SoCon teams this season. All of those SoCon opponents came from the weak South Division, and by using the transitive property, all of teams Citadel has beaten, Appalachian has also defeated. Of their SoCon wins, Georgia Southern is athletic, but a poor team overall, Wofford is terribly young, and Furman is about as untalented as it gets in the conference. The Bulldogs are also 2-10 on the road this season, with two of those wins coming in Statesboro and Greenville. In fact the Bulldogs have not won a game this season played north of the NC/SC border.

Although the Bulldogs are a tough team to scout, they do stick to a zone defense and like to get the ball inside. Rarely do you see a strategy in college basketball, where on one side of the court, you try to slow the game down, and on the other, try to lenghthen the game by drawing fouls in the frontcourt. Three Citadel players average in double figures, led by Mike Groselle, scoring 15.1 points per game, while also pulling in 7.3 rebounds. PJ Horgan pours in 11.1 points per game while adding 6.4 rebounds per game. Matt Van Scyoc adds 10.9 points per game.

The key for Appalachian of late has been the play of Michael Obacha. He is easily the most improved player on the team this season. Obacha has improved his presence in the post, getting open for easy layups, and has avoided foul trouble for the most part. Add to that, Obacha was shooting well under 50% from the free throw line earlier in the season, and has improved to 50%. It does not seem like much, but his efficiency has increased and he just looks more confident on the line.

We will update the spread in the morning. Our feeling is that Appalachian will be favored, and it could be close to ten points.

1:04 PM UPDATE: Appalachian is favored by 9.5 points. This is a really tough one. App has had trouble a couple times this season covering at home to South Division foes. I am really feeling taking Citadel in this one. Only some serious line movement will point me towards Appalachian on this one.

7:37 PM UPDATE: Holy bonkers the spread moved to 10.5. This is shocking. I just don’t feel it. App may lead by more than 10 before the game is over, but I don’t think they hold it. I am taking The Citadel to cover 10.5.


We are going to make this short and sweet because complaining is not going to change the result. Appalachian led by nine points in the first half, playing against a glorified intramural team, and squandered the lead and was forced to tie the game at halftime on a 75 foot, one-handed heave by Tevin Baskin that hit off the backboard and found the bottom of the net as time expired. Once again that tied the game at 34 at halftime.

Without some three pointers by Mike Neal and Tab Hamilton late in the game, Appalachian would have never found themselves in contention for overtime. The Mountaineers hit eight threes in the second half, which accounted for 24 of their 34 second half points. Even though Michael Obacha has played better of late, he has yet to play against a player like Mike Groselle, who plays a different style of center than any player in the league. He is their point guard in the post and their entire offense goes through him. Appalachian’s post players never make the pass back out of the post to an open shooter while The Citadel lives on it.

Somehow, Appalachian still finds itself in position to secure the bye in the SoCon Tourney that they should not want, nor deserve. The bye will come down to the game next weekend, starting with Samford on Thursday night. Appalachian trails Samford by one game in the North standings. Appalachian and Western Carolina are tied for fifth overall, and working out the tiebreaker scenarios will be futile until after Thursday’s results. This is much is certain, if Appalachian wants the fourth seed and the bye that comes with it, beating Samford comes first.

Appalachian did not cover the spread, and did not cover in a very lopsided manner. The Mountaineers were nearly 11 point favorites and perhaps turned that into the worst loss in school history. I went with The Citadel, the first time I had taken the opponent since East Carolina. Now Appalachian and myself are 14-8 against the spread this season. After starting 10-0 to start the season, App is 4-8 since.

APPALACHIAN STATE BASEBALL (17-3, 6-0 SoCon) vs. THE CITADEL (8-11, 1-5 SoCon)

The Citadel lost its first conference series of the year last weekend when they dropped two of three games to Western Carolina at home. The Citadel only scored 11 runs against the Catamounts. The Bulldogs RPI is 185 out of 297 while Appalachian is rated 26th in the RPI. The Mountaineers have only allowed 3.1 runs per game this season while scoring 7.6 runs per game.

Game 1: ASU Sr. RHP Ryan Arrowood (3-0, 3.27 ERA) vs. The Citadel Jr. RHP Austin Pritcher (2-1, 3.16 ERA)

Appalachian won the opening game against The Citadel 10-5 after falling behind 5-1 after three innings. Ryan Arrowood (4-0, 4.03) had a shaky start in the first three innings, giving up 5 earned runs, but settled down in his last four innings of work to keep his perfect record on the season. Nathan Hyatt record his seventh save of the season after Will Helms gave up two hits and a walk in the bottom of the ninth.

The offense started late for the Mountaineers, but they managed ten runs on fourteen hits, scoring all of those runs in their final six at bats. Preston Troutman(.189) had three hits and two RBI. Will Callaway(.377)  also notched three hits and two RBI with a walk. Tyler Tewell(.367)  hit his third homerun of the season and added three walks. Daniel Kassouf (.382) also had two hits and three RBI and collected his sixth home run of the season. Noah Holmes (.264) hit his first home run of the season as well.

Game 2: ASU Sr. RHP Seth Grant (2-1, 2.92 ERA) vs. The Citadel So. RHP Bryce Hines (0-0, 1.00 ERA)

Appalachian won a series against The Citadel for the first time since 2005 with a 9-4 win on Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers batted around and scored six runs in the second inning and never looked back. Seth Grant upped his record to 3-1 on the season, with his only loss coming to Lousiana State. Chad Farmer, Tyler Moore and David Port pitched the last three innings without giving up a hit.

Daniel Kassouf (.400, 8 HR, 26 RBI) once again led the Mountaineer on offense, belting two more home runs, giving him eight on the season. Tyler Zupcic added two of Appalachian’s five doubles on the day. Every Mountaineer reached base on the day, with seven Mountaineers combining for 12 hits. Jeremy Dowdy did not record a hit, but did walk once and Trey Holmes reached on a third strike past ball.

Game 3: ASU Jr. LHP Rob Marcello (2-0, 1.19 ERA) vs. The Citadel So. LHP Logan Cribb (1-0, 2.38 ERA)

 The Mountaineers scored all of their runs in their first six at bats and survived a ninth inning rally from The Citadel to earn their second conference sweep in as many weekends with a 7-6 win on Sunday afternoon. It is the first time ever that Appalachian has swept The Citadel.

Besides the third inning where he allowed three runs, Mountaineer southpaw Rob Marcello (3-0, 1.82) pitched a beautiful game, going seven strong innings and striking out five batters. David Port (3.48)  pitched a hitless eight inning. Nathan Hyatt allowed five hits and a walk in the ninth inning, struggling for the second consecutive Sunday afternoon, before Tyler Tewell threw out a Citadel pinch runner at home for the final out of the game.

 Will Callaway (.405, 2 HR, 19 RBI) went 4-5 with three runs, two doubles, two RBI and a home run. It was Callaway’s sixth double of the season. Jeremy Dowdy(.319, 16 RBI)  also added two hits, two runs, an RBI and his fourth stolen base of the season. Dowdy was also excellent on defense, applying the tag on the tying run in the ninth, and throwing a Bulldog runner trying to steal second. It was the sixth time Dowdy has thrown out a runner stealing this season. The Mountaineers as a team have only allowed six stolen bases this season.


SoCon Standings

Appalachian     6-0

Charleston       7-2

Elon     6-3

Samford      4-2

Western Carolina     2-1

Appalachian State Basketball: 2/21/2012 Updated SoCon North Standings

The only game in the Southern Conference on Tuesday night was Wofford visiting UNC-Greensboro. Wofford is the one team I cannot figure out. After getting smacked around by Charleston Southern on the road in the BracketBusters, they easily take care of the Spartans in the Greensboro Coliseum, defeating them 68-56. After winning its previous three road games, UNCG lost at Georgia Southern this past Saturday, and has now lost by 12 at home after defeating Charleston by fifteen points in its previous home game. Appalachian visits The Citadel tomorrow in the only Wednesday SoCon game.

UNCG      10-7       @Elon

Elon             8-8      @Dav, UNCG

Samford       8-8     @WCU, @UTC

App St          7-9     @Cit, @WCU

WCU             6-10   Sam, App St