It is the question that has hounded Mountaineer fans more and more as the season has trickled along. App State is not running the ball as efficiently as it has for the past two seasons. Our offensive line stinks. Those spicy takes have littered forums and tailgates especially more often in the last two weeks. Assuming the system has not changed. Let’s dig further to figure this out.
First Four games 2015
Howard – The Bison ended up allowing 196 yards a game on the ground, and the Mountaineers ran for more yards than any of Howard’s opponents. Boston College came close the week after Howard played App, but ran for twelve fewer yards. The Mountaineers ran for 390 yards in the opener.
Clemson – The Apps grounded out 202 rushing yards at 4.5 yards a clip. The Tigers allowed 125.3 yards on the ground in their national runner up season. Similar to Howard, Clemson didn’t give up more rushing yards to any other opponent.
Old Dominion – The Monarchs allowed 203 yards per game on the ground in 2015, and the Mountaineers once again ran for 303 yards on 56 attempts. This is becoming a trend.
Wyoming – Appalachian ran for 249 yards on that rainy day in Boone, and Wyoming surrendered 225 yards per game on the season. Make that four straight games to start the season that App outrushed the opponents eventual season average.
The result: 1144 rushing yards
First Four games 2016
Tennessee – App State ran for 184 yards and the Vols allowed 218 yards per contest. A downward trend if we can call it that.
Old Dominion – The Monarchs improved tremendously, improving their run defense to a paltry 157 yards allowed per game, nearly a fifty yard improvement from 2015. The Apps were still able to pound out 230 yards on 48 carries.
Miami – The Hurricanes stifled App for only 149 yards on the ground. Miami allowed 202 yards for the season in 2016, which denotes another downward trend for the running game.
Akron – The Mountaineers ran all over the Zips to the tune of 307 yards, but that Akron defense was garbage all season long. The Zips allowed 225 yards per game. For the Apps it was a back and forth affair to start the 2016 season.
The result: 870 rushing yards
First Four games 2017
We’ll make this short and sweet. App has cracked 200 yards only once this season, against Savannah State, and even that was not exceptionally pretty. The rushing total in 2017 is 648 yards, well over 200 yards off last years pace and almost 500 yards off the pace of 2015. To put it simply, that’s a lot. To be fair, several of those teams in ’15 and ’16 were giving up the yards and the Apps simply capitalized.
This season, the Mountaineers have faced two top 50 run defenses in Georgia and Wake Forest. Texas State isn’t far behind, just outside the Top 75, which ranks them just outside the upper half of FBS football. Savannah State stacked the box on App, dared Taylor Lamb to throw, and the Apps did. I believe things are going to get better. Over the course of the next eight games, App faces run defenses that are currently miserable. Here is how they currently rank:
New Mexico State – 68th
Idaho – 109th
Coastal Carolina – 80th
UMass – 87th
UL-Monroe – 124th
Georgia Southern – 120th
Georgia State – 83rd
Louisiana – 128th
It’s just a matter of time folks. Be patient.