Monday, August 25, 2014

Getting To Know Appalachian State

For every game I will be covering on-site this season, there will be a “Getting To Know” article for both teams involved. The Appalachian State Mountaineers are the first feature.
When Appalachian State kicks off its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision this Saturday at Michigan in Ann Arbor, the seven-year journey will come full circle.
That journey for the Mountaineers began on the opening week of the 2007 season when they were a 33-point underdog to the No. 5 Wolverines at Michigan Stadium, only to come away with a 34-32 win.
The win helped Appalachian State gain national notoriety as it claimed its third national championships in as many seasons later that season.
Fast forward to 2014, Appalachian State joins the Sun Belt Conference, despite finishing 4-8 overall and 4-4 in the Southern Conference last campaign— its worst record since 1979, when it finished 3-8 (.273 winning percentage).
However, just like any other team in the FBS, the start of the season marks a new beginning and renewed sense of hope.
Here are some key players to watch for on ASU’s offense:
Sophomore running back Marcus Cox: Cox rushed for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, along with 43 receptions and 559 yards. Before coming to Appalachian State, Cox received offers from Mid-American Conference schools like Miami (Ohio), Ohio and Buffalo, but chose ASU because of an opportunity for immediate playing time as a starter.
Sophomore quarterback Kam Bryant: Bryant started eight games as a freshman last season and completed 71.2 percent of his passes, while throwing for 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Bryant’s stats are a sign that he could flourish in second-year ASU head coach Scott Satterfield’s up-tempo spread offense.
Offensive Line: The Mountaineers are expected to start the season with Graham Fisher at center, Kendall Lamm at left tackle, either Will Corbin or Davante Harris at right tackle and Beau Nunn, Colby Gossett and Alex Acey in the inside positions.
Defense: Sophomore nose tackle Tyson Fernandez will be counted on to clog up space in the middle. The 330-pounder’s conditioning might be a question mark as he could be limited in the number of snaps taken in Saturday’s game. The linebacker and secondary positions are filled with inexperience and could be a soft spot in the season opener.
Special Teams: Junior placekicker Zach Matics is expected to be the top guy replacing Drew Stewart, who made of 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) field goals last season. Punter Bentlee Critcher returns as he netted 2340 yards on 51 punts with his longest at 63 in 2013.
2014 Schedule:
Sat. Aug. 30 @ Michigan
Sat. Sept. 6 vs. Campbell
Sat. Spt. 20 @ Southern Miss
Thu. Sept. 25 @ Georgia Southern
Sat. Oct. 4 vs. South Alabama
Sat. Oct. 11 vs. Liberty
Sat. Oct. 18 @ Troy
Sat. Nov. 1 vs. Georgia State
Sat. Nov. 8 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Sat. Nov. 15 @ Arkansas State
Sat. Nov. 22 @ Louisiana-Lafayette
Sat. Nov. 29 vs. Idaho
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Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.