App State fans don’t like losing. The Mountaineers going 21-5 over the past two seasons has made losing taste even more bitter. But who likes being bitter? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that penalties played a major role in giving a talented UGA team several chances to put a lopsided score on the board. Understood. Moving on.
But what about the silver lining? What about the positive signs coming out of App State’s opening weekend? That a more productive use of time and energy! We covered most of this on the BGP Postgame Show (Listen on iTunes or Listen on Soundcloud) but here it is anyway!
Five Positive Signs from App State vs UGA
1. The Eye Test
Simply put: App State didn’t LOOK overmatched against UGA – which was always a problem for pre-bowl era App State vs. P5 teams. Now… Is UGA a better team? Yes. Are they bigger, faster, and stronger? Yes. Would they beat us again if we played them next weekend? Most likely, yes. But that game was a FAR CRY from other P5 matchups over the past decade. Think back to the last SoCon years: UF in 2010, VT in 2011, and UGA in 2013. Those games were over before they started aside from a great effort in the first half vs. UGA in 2013. As weird as it seems, the fact that the game was not OVER after one quarter shows incredible progress since the VT slaughter in 2011.
This has become a calling card for App State since 2014. According to the ever-so-sensitive Coach Hudspeth, we hit Louisiana-Lafayette so hard in our first game we made them quit. But poor tackling in big games was an issue for years leading up to the Bowl Era. In 2010 vs UF, only DJ Smith was consistently wrapping up and tackling. That isn’t the case today. How many tackles did we miss at Clemson in 2015, Tennessee last year or in Athens Saturday? Few if any. Poor tackling used to turn 1-2 yard runs into 6-7 yards. What was a weakness five years ago is now a strength.
3. Correctable Mistakes
What is easier for Coach Satterfield to accomplish this week: preventing personal fouls or increasing the average size of our OL by two inches and 30lbs? Penalties are a problem and it’s not debatable. But it’s not a PHYSICAL problem that requires an entirely new set of players. We’ll put our money on this problem being addressed thoroughly.
Coach Moore was always adamant that the number one goal for an App State football team is winning the conference. Going into conference play with our best team is a goal within itself. Thankfully, there were no glaring new injuries after Saturday’s game.
5. App State Freshmen
Finally, three true freshman got the start on offense Saturday: Thomas Hennigan and Malik Williams at WR and Noah Hannon at center. Since App State fans have been so used to “red-shirting” the overwhelming majority of incoming freshman over the past three seasons they should see three freshman starters as a good sign. Why? Because that means these players are just that good on an already talented roster. All three players made a positive impact on the game which is a welcome sign for this season.