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2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #32 Appalachian State

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 14, 2016

#32 Appalachian State Mountaineers

2015 Recap:
Appalachian State finished with a very impressive 11-2 record including a dramatic Camellia Bowl win on the final play of the game. The 11 victories is the most for the Mountaineers since they entered the FBS ranks just a few years ago. Appalachian State won the FCS title three straight years from 2005-2007 and were always in the FBS playoff mix.


Coaching:
Scott Satterfield is 22-15 in three seasons at Appalachian State and is currently viewed as one of the most innovative offensive minds at the FBS level. Satterfield could be one of theose coaches on the radar for a number of larger programs if Appalachian State has another widly successful campaign. Shawn Clark and Frank Ponce are the co-offenisve coordinators while Nate Woody leads the defense.


Offense

Appalachian State was an impressive 23rd in PPG offensively last season at 36.7 PPG and ranked 6th overall in rushing at 271.5 yards per game. Taylor Lamb was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country and he is one that can move and is comfortable throwing outside the pocket. Lamb and his elusiveness helped explain that Mountaineer quarterbacks were only sacked 11 times all of last season. The Mountaineers have an athletic line led by Colby Gossett, Beau Nunn and Parker Collins. This is not only one of the best small school lines, it's one of the best offensive lines in the country...period. The rushing attack is what makes Appalachian State so dangerous. Despite having one of the best senior backs in the nation in Marcus Cox, the Mountaineers can hit you with a variety of different runners and running styles. Jalen Moore and Terrence Upshaw and Taylor Lamb all combined for 1,609 yards and 13 touchdowns to go along with the 1,423 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns from Cox. The Mountaineers lost their starting receiving targets but they have experienced weapons returning. Look for tight end Barrett Burns to have an increased role as 8 of his 15 catches last season went for touchdown.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Marcus Cox RB 4th Round 2017.

                                       Parker Collins OG 7th Round/UFA 2017.


Defense

While the offense was a juggernaut the defense was even more stout, finishing 11th in the country in total defense and 14th in scoring defense allowing a paltry 19.1 PPG. True, defensive end Ronald Blair was lost to the NFL and he was the catalyst for the line but nine of the starters are back, including the entire linebacking corps which was the key to holding the defense together. Senior John Law and Junior Eric Boggs are both NFL calibur linebackers. Boggs had the better overall individual numbers but that was mainly due to teams trying to run away from Law. This leaves the outside to Devan Stringer and Keenan Gilchrist who combined for 124 tackles a season ago in the Mountaineer 3-4 front. It will be important for the linebackers to stabilize the line as Appalachian State will rotate a number of pass rushers along the defensive front and gives opposing offenses various looks. Latrell Gibbs benefitted from the pressure put on the quarterback last year bringing a pair of his seven interceptions back to the house while defensing 19 passes and breaking up 12 more. Overall, the secondary has a great blend of experience and depth.


Best Draft Prospects: John Law LB 5th Round 2017.

                                      Eric Boggs LB 5th Round 2018.


Special Teams:

Special teams may have been the weakest link on the football field in 2015 and that is not something you normally saw about Appalachian State football teams. The Mountaineers will have new return men and while the coverage was good they did suffer an awful lot of untimely penalties wiping out some big plays a season ago. Jaquil Capel and Letrell Gibbs will look to be the new return men.


Schedule:

It may be rough sledding out of the gate as the Mountaineers have a date in Knoxville with the Volunteers to open the season. Week 3 sees the Miami Hurricanes travel to Boone. The rest of the schedule looks favorable with the toughest road tests coming against Troy and Georgia Southern.



Draft and Overall Outlook:

Appalachian State continues to crank out quality NFL prospects and the transition to FBS life has been a rousing success. marcus Cox could become the Kenneth Dixon of this draft, best running back from a smaller program that is still an FBS school. The real talent looks to be on defense where Law and Boggs both seem like they are auditioning for extended Sunday roles down the line. If Appalachian State can score a win over Tennessee or Miami then this could be the team earning an At-Large bid in the BCS because they will have the nations attention.

DJ Boyer