Appalachian State Mountaineers are more than their 2007 stunner at Michigan
The Appalachian State Mountaineers are best known for a blocked kick in 2007. They aren’t just an FCS power now. They can compete with solid FBS opponents.
In 2007, the Appalachian State Mountaineers pulled off a magical upset via a Corey Lynch blocked field goal. Head coach Jerry Moore and quarterback Armanti Edwards finished the season with a third straight FCS national title. After the 2007 season, they seemed to fly under the radar. They continued to make the FCS playoffs, but never made it back to the national title.
The lasting image proved to be the defeat at the Big House, but this program has climbed to new heights. Moore would exit after the 2012 season, and the program moved to the FBS in 2014 under second-year head coach Scott Satterfield.
The Mountaineers didn’t skip a beat recording a winning season in each of their first three years in the Sun Belt. They’ve gone 7-5, 11-2 and 9-3 respectively. The biggest thing over the last two seasons is strength of schedule. The Mountaineers proved themselves to be battle-tested.
In fact, App State’s strength of schedule ranked in the top 45 (45 in ’16 and 41 in ’15) of ESPN’s Football Power Index in each of the past two seasons. They played Clemson, Tennessee and Miami in those two years. The result was a 14-2 conference record over that span.
Old school play in new schemes
They’ve built this team through a run-based attack on offense. Satterfield utilizes the pistol and some spread concepts for App State. They batter opponents with a two-headed monster of Marcus Cox and Jalin Moore. Both backs are 200-plus pounds and have gashed defenses for more than 4,300 combined rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns in 2015 and 2016.
The triggerman for the Mountaineers’ offense is dual threat quarterback Taylor Lamb. He’s a highly efficient passer and capable runner. He’s thrown for 6,907 yards, 62 touchdowns and just 22 interceptions while completing 61 percent of his passes in his three-year career as a starter. He’s added nearly 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground as well. He executes their attack to perfection and he’s given power 5 defenses fits.
For the defense, the Mountaineers are a stifling bunch. They’ve held opponents under 330 yards per game on average in each of the last two seasons. Their secondary is opportunistic recording 18 and 19 interceptions in 2015 and 2016. A lot of that came courtesy of solid defensive line play. Either way, they play good defense. In terms of rankings, they rank seventh in the nation in points allowed with just 17 per game.
Unlike a lot of modern defenses, they don’t rely solely on turnovers. They subscribe to the “bend but don’t break” mentality. It’s true gritty defense. In their bowl game Saturday against Toledo, look for Senior defensive lineman Antonious Sims and freshman defensive back Clifton Duck to make plays. Sims leads the team in tackles for loss (11) and sacks (6), while Duck leads the team in interceptions (5).
This team isn’t a top-tier team, yet, but they are a perennial power in mid-major football. If they continue to dominate expect Satterfield to draw some major interest. This team is on the rise and more than one game played a decade ago.
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