Here we go with Week 4
Wyoming (0-4, 0-0 Mountain West) @ Appalachian State (2-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Saturday October 3rd, 3:30 PM
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 100.7 Bristol
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings:
App State: 68.53
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 29.5 points (rounded)
Sportsbook: App State -25.5
Series: Wyoming leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Wyoming 53, Appalachian 7; September 4, 2004 (Laramie, Wyo.)
Weather: Rain and gusty winds likely. Temps steady in the low to mid 50’s
Winning football games are hard. Over the course of a game, eleven players on the field at a time must beat another eleven players over three hours and 150 plays or so. When your team scores more points over that period of time, it is a satisfying feeling. The margin of defeat can sometimes get in the way of how satisfying those feelings are. Appalachian shuting out Old Dominion on Saturday to the tune of 49-0 was widely unexpected. A game where the oddsmakers and the Sagarin ratings index lined up was also quite irregular. Perhaps the drubbing that ODU received from NC State the prior week was enough to lean in Appalachian’s favor by over a full touchdown. Maybe it was the respectable, scoreboard-doesnt-tell-whole-truth loss the Mountaineers suffered at the hands of Clemson. Somewhere between those two results was the actual truth: Appalachian laid down a soul-crushing beatdown of the Monarchs. If the game were played nine more times, you’ll plausibly see closer scores, but unlikely a different result. The Mountaineers are playing that well right now on the defensive side of the ball. Wyoming will bring a talented but young and inexperienced group to the mountains to face a team that is on fire, who has won eight of nine games while recording three shutouts in the same span.
To be brutally honest, Wyoming has had a tough start to their 2015 season. The Cowboys schedule set up nicely before Mountain West conference play was to begin, with three home games in their first four games. But the Cowboys had trouble mounting the horse and stumbled to North Dakota, an FCS school in their opener. The following week, 4,500 fewer fans showed up to watch the Cowboys get thumped by an Eastern Michigan program that has been in the dumps for years. Washington State and New Mexico continued the trend with double digits wins over Wyoming. Beyond being 0-4, and losing every game by over ten points, Wyoming has surrended 207 yards rushing per game to their opponents and allowed 5.2 yards per carry and twelve rushing touchdowns. This bodes well for Appalachian, who is fresh off a 303 yard rushing performance last weekend.
Wyoming is in need of several recruiting classes in order to get the program turned around. Currently, Wyoming is playing more freshmen and redshirt freshmen than almost any other FBS program in the country. Only Clemson has played more of those types of athletes this season. Likely, the Pokes will continue to take their lumps playing so much youth, but that is exactly the risk Appalachian State took in 2013. Without a postseason to play for, Scott Satterfield decided to prepare for the future and that seems to be paying off. Eventually the ahletes get older and better and the results will show. In the meantime, the Cowboys will have a tall task in front of them to avoid losing ten games this season.
Allthough many losses are on the horizon for Wyoming, they will be entertaining to watch. They like to run their offense with tempo and their preference is the power running game. They employ several tight ends in their sets and use the wide receivers to block quite often. With the Pokes having to play from behind most of the season, it has led to some decent looking statistics for quaterback Cameron Coffman. The redshirt senior leads the Mountain West in passing yards at 314 yards per game. Coffman started his college career at Indiana, where he averaged 248 yards per game as a Hoosier. Coffman looks a lot like Johnny Manziel in the pocket as he is quick enough to avoid a rush and keep the play alive, but Coffman doesn’t like to scramble upfield. His prefence is to keep looking downfield and hit an open receiver. Coffman’s athleticism will be fun to watch, especially if Appalachian shys away from sending pressure.
Sophomore running back Brian Hill has hit the century mark twice this season, in the last two games, and will be one Appalachian must keep an eye on early in the game. Hill appears to be in line for an increased role this Saturday as senior Shaun Wick has already been ruled out to an injury. Wick had a chance of becoming Wyoming’s all time leading rusher entering the season. Hill is a bigger back at 6’1 and 204 pounds and really fits what coach Craig Bohl wants to do with the power running game. Hill lined up several times against Washington State as the wildcat option and was successful in those situations. Hill ran for 242 yards against Eastern Michigan, the fourth highest total by any FBS back this season. Hill had more yards on fewer carries that ODU’s Ray Lawry did against the same Eastern Michigan team.
After another strong performance from the Appalachian offense at ODU, the Mountaineers will face an opponent for the second straight week that struggles defensively and the weather pattern appears to nearly mimic the conditions from last weekend. The App running game will once again be called on to help control the clock and battle the conditions. Even more so than last week, the ground attack will play right into a major weakness for Wyoming. Wyoming is also thin on the edges of their defense. The Pokes do have two 300-pound tackles, but at the defensive end, the size drops to 250 pounds on both sides. That is great size for a pass rusher, but it is improbable that Appalachian passes much this Saturday. Taylor Lamb only threw fifteen passes against ODU and four went for touchdowns.
Seems like a lazy gameplan doesnt it? With the rain, let’s run the ball, because that’s what we do well and what they don’t. Eventually, Appalachian will run into some resistance with a strategy like that. In meantime, the Mountaineers are going to ride the horse that got them where they are. Hopefully Appalachian can get to a point in the game where we can see them using several backs and keeping Marcus Cox and Terrance Upshaw fresh before the conference slate begins. Jalin Moore had a fantastic touchdown run last weekend and Josh Boyd was also impressive on his five carries. Wyoming is gonna score some points this weekend. The Cowboy offense has shown enough versatility this season to able to take what the opponent gives them and adjust during the game. The big difference for Wyoming is that they will be facing their toughest test on offense by facing the Mountaineer defense. The previous three FBS defenses the Cowboys faced are not much to speak of. Eastern Michigan is ranked 118th in total defense. New Mexico comes in at 68th, much of that due to their ball control option offense, and Washington State is ranked 61st, with an incredibly weak schedule that includes Rutgers & FCS Portland State. I think the spread might have gotten out of hand this week and expect for Wyoming to keep it interesting early, but everything about this game points to an easy Mountaineer win.
The First Pick: