Here we go with Week 9
Texas State (2-5, 0-3 Sun Belt ) @ Appalachian State (6-2, 4-0 Sun Belt)
Saturday, November 5th, 2016 3:30 est
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 870 AM, 100.7 FM Bristol/Johnson City, TN
Kidd Brewer Stadium
Jeff Sagarin Ratings
App State: 71.79
Texas State: 42.77
App State is favored by the Sagarin ratings by 31.5 points (rounded)
Sportsbook: App State -32
Series: App State leads 1-0
Last meeting: App State 41, Texas State 34, October 4th, 2004, Boone, NC
Everyone has a favorite restaurant they prefer to have a decent meal. Generally that meal is one that is prepared the same way every time. Perhaps you might skip lunch in preparation for this great meal so you can make room. Occasionally that grand dish doesn’t perform up to standards. Perhaps there are new cooks in the kitchen. Maybe the waitress didn’t remember put on the same perfume or the tea isn’t sweet enough. Maybe the meat or fish was not as fresh and did not deliver. The meal still filled you up, and you’ll still go back to the restaurant, but you leave a little unfulfilled. That’s the best I can describe last week’s experience at Georgia Southern. At the end of the day, a win over the Eagles in Paulson will do the trick. It does not mean any less in the win loss column, but it does not feel right when the students are not telling you that you are number one, while dropping a four letter word or two. Georgia Southern, please come back. We need you to be competitive for the Sun Belt to be fun. Please, get it figured out. In the meantime, we’ll keep knocking off Sun Belt opponents one by one waiting for your return.
Texas State is the next victim for the Mountaineers. It’s that simple. The Bobcats, formerly of the FCS and in their sixth season of FBS football have had mixed results. Many forget that Texas State was 7-5 and 5-3 in Sun Belt play in 2014, but were left out of the bowl picture. Late season wins over Arkansas State and Georgia State turned out to be, too little, too late for Texas State. Outside of that one winning season, Texas State has a couple of 6-6 seasons in their short tenure in FBS. Some remember the Texas State debacle in the 2005 FCS playoffs which directly impacted Appalachian’s first national chmapionship. The fourth seeded Bobcats took a knee late in the fourth quarter of a tied game with three time outs to head to overtime. Northern Iowa prevailed in the extra period of that semifinal, and the rest is history.
This season has not been kind to Texas State. It’s never easy when a new coach takes over. Everett Withers, the former Mountaineer, is doing his best with fewer than the max of 85 scholarships due to massive turnover in the offseason. That has led to a ton of first year players getting significant minutes early on in their career. Eventually, that will payoff, but in the current moment, it leads to disappointment. Texas State made some noise early this season in its first game with a triple OT win over Ohio. That has been the only D-1 win for the Bobcats to date. Texas State gets the three leaders of the Sun Belt in their final five games along with Idaho and New Mexico State on the road. They are unlikely to be favored in any of those matchups.
Withers and his staff rolled up tons of offense in two years at James Madison, and that is the plan as well in San Marcos. They intend to run upwards of eighty offensive plays a game with plans of slowly wearing out defenses. The Bobcats are averaging about 38 passes a game, but aren’t really moving the ball down the field. They live for the short pass, and hoping a receiver can make a play with it, rather than relying on the quarterback to make a throw. Quarterback Tyler Jones is averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt, and only 10.4 yards per completed pass. As a team, Texas State’s 4.7 yards per play is dead last in the Sun Belt. Their inability to drive down the field, and volume of clock stopping incompletions have led to a poor time of possession margin. The Bobcats are losing that battle by nearly nine minutes per game.
We will see Texas State throw the ball all over the yard and to a bevy of receivers. Six of them have over twenty receptions, including leading rusher Stedman Mayberry who also leads the team in receptions. Mayberry’s receptions also do not go very far, averaging 7.6 yards per catch. Mayberry tacks on just over 60 yards rushing per game, but you’ll only see him get around 15 carries. The Bobcats have just two 100-yard receivers on the season, and both came in their wins.
After a somewhat nervous first fifteen minutes in Statesboro, the Mountaineers finally settled down and slowly destroyed Georgia Southern, scoring the game’s final 34 points. The level of dominance led to one of the most lopsided results in the series. Appalachian rolled up 299 rushing yards while also holding the Eagles to just 65 yards on the ground. That same story might be repeated this weekend against Texas State. The Bobcats are giving up 234 yards a game on the ground while Appalachian is second in conference play with 208 yards via the run. Appalachian nearly had three players break the century mark against the Eagles, and having two break 100 yards against Texas State seems like a really safe bet.
The goal is not to make it sound like Texas State isn’t very good. That’s pretty evident. They aren’t very good and just about every Texas State weakness plays right into a Mountaineer strength. Be prepared, this could be a very boring game to watch as a fan. Appalachian’s real challenge will be to keep from looking ahead to their next game while at the same time, playing loose and avoiding injuries. The health of this Mountaineer team is a major plus at this time of the season, and backups have had the chances to get plenty of playing time. That really showed against Georgia Southern last week when twenty-four different players made a tackle, and the leading tackler, Eric Boggs had just six stops. That is the fewest tackles that the leading tackler for an entire game has had this season. Georgia Southern had zero plays that went for over 20 yards and did not eclipse 100 total yards until the last drive. Long story short, this defense is playing outstanding. To think, that after four Sun Belt games, the black shirts have yet to give up a touchdown that has mattered in the least bit is really astounding. Forget that the offense is not quite what we want it to be. It’s plenty for the best defense in the conference and a top twenty defense nationwide. This offense will be more than enough to take on the 121st ranked defense in Texas State. The Bobcats are worse than Akron on defense in total yards and touchdowns allowed per game and they get to deal with Appalachian’s full compliment of backs. This will be decided quickly, and the only question is the margin.
The First Pick