Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Saturday:
1) App State Fans. They’re good people. They’re like a nice version of West Virginia fans – rabid, loyal, not very preppy, and proud. They don’t let anyone forget the Michigan game, they have a love affair with Armanti Edwards, and no one is more revered than former coach Jerry Moore. They know they’re a small school, they are realistic about where they stand in the big scheme, but they also know they’re on the doorstep of another big upset.
2) The heat. Our start time of 6:15 pm isn’t your traditional game time, but any heat of the day should be lessened by then, and any warm temperatures will only play in our favor. The App State campus is in a beautiful mountain setting in Boone, NC, and while it’s not exactly cold up there this time of year, it sure ain’t hot.
3) Mascots. To put it simply, we have Uga. End of story. But to delve deeper, they have “Yosef”. I’ll let you research it at your leisure. I’m just trying to figure out if this is the Gordon’s Fisherman (don’t trust him) or Lukey from Snuffy Smith.
Here are the three things that I AM worried about Saturday:
1) This App State Quarterback is no shrinking violet. He ain’t skeered. According to some preliminary research, Taylor Lamb has game experience against three Power 5 schools. His record is 0-3, and I’ve seen references to his performance being subpar, but his passing is 34/60 for 292 yards and a couple of touchdowns, not to mention positive rushing yardage including any sacks. He’s a redshirt senior, both his grandfathers and his father played college ball, he’s within hailing distance of a lot of school and conference records, and is already the 2nd winningest active quarterback in FBS. Oh, and his dad is a coach (Mercer). He’s a gym rat, film room rat, and just flat out a gamer. He’s had 8 months to get ready for this one game – I’m hoping his Power 5 record will be 0-4, but I’m worried.
2) They will run, even if everybody knows it. The 2016 #10 Rushing offense in the nation. Solace may be found that UGA returns most of the #36 ranked rushing defense – one that faced 3 of the top 20 rushing offenses in 2016, and 6 of the top 50. App State will not only exploit gaps, but they have an OL that can flat out make holes. The starters average right at 6’4” and 300 lbs, not bad for a Sun Belt team. They also carry 11 (count ‘em, eleven) freshman or redshirt freshmen offensive linemen.
They have junior tailback Jalin Moore, who was one of two 1,000 yard rushers last season. Kirby Smart and Roquan Smith have both recently called Moore a “SEC back”. They have a wide receiver, Darrynton Evans, who averaged 4 rushes per game. They have good coaching, a good scheme, plenty of returning starters who know how to execute it, and they pride themselves on this rushing attack. Trenton Thompson, Lorenzo Carter, Jonathan Ledbetter, John Atkins… boys, you better be ready and disciplined.
3) Award winners. The offensive line is led by Senior Guard Colby Gossett. The 6’6” Cumming, GA native is an anchor to a line that returns 4 starters from the aforementioned awesome running attack. He’s also on the watch list for the Outland Award, given to the nation’s top lineman. Senior inside linebacker Eric Boggs is on the watch list for the Nagurski Award. Boggs had 98 tackles last season, including 3 consecutive weeks with 10+ tackles. I don’t want this guy making headlines because of a Zack Cunningham-type performance. Of course if he’s making shoestring tackles of Nick Chubb 8-10 yards past the line of scrimmage, heck, pad the stats all you want. And Sophomore Clifton Duck is a breakout star in the App State secondary, one which ranked 20th in the nation in interceptions last year. Duck is, naturally, on the Thorpe Award watch list. Please, in the name of Joe Cox, don’t let them get a pick-6 that will be played on highlight reels the rest of the season. These guys can be all conference all they want, just don’t make a name for yourself based on the performance Saturday night.
I wasn’t really worried about Nicholls State (at least we won), I wasn’t worried about ULL. But I am definitely worried about this App State team. Sugar Bowl, Mountaineers, (shudders violently) … I’m going to go see my shrink again before Saturday.
What worries you about Saturday’s season opener? Leave it in the comments below, and as always…