ASU's offense continues to struggle
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
For the second straight week, Appalachian State's offense struggled.
The Mountaineers eventually put up respectable numbers Saturday, but waited until the end of the fourth quarter to score two touchdowns in a 24-21 loss to North Carolina A&T at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Head coach Scott Satterfield has two weeks -- the Mountaineers have a bye on Saturday -- to help the offense find some production before they play at Elon on Sept. 21.
The quarterback position is often the main focus of what is wrong with an offense that is struggling to score points. On Saturday, App State starting quarterback Jamal Londry-Jackson was 11-of-20 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Londry-Jackson led a touchdown drive of 80 yards in 11 plays, which was also the first drive of the game. But he also tossed two interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown just before halftime.
Kameron Bryant, playing in just his second game of his college career, completed 21-of-31 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns, but the Mountaineers did not score in the third quarter. Both touchdowns were scored in the final 2:48 of the game.
That adds up to 32-of-51 passing for 311 yards and two interceptions. It also adds up to the Mountaineers going 12 possessions, including eight punts and two interceptions, between their first two touchdowns.
Satterfield said Londry-Jackson might still be feeling some of the effects of coming off a knee injury last season and by being banged up in a 30-6 loss to Montana on Aug. 31. He had to be replaced by Bryant after being hit hard in the neck and head area in the first half in that game.
Satterfield said Londry-Jackson is still the starter, even if the quarterback has struggled.
"When you go back to the end of the season, even with a torn ACL, he played well," Satterfield said. "He couldn't really move all that well, but he played well. Then he had the surgery and he's trying to work hard to come back from it. Any time you tear and ACL and have surgery, you play a lot of different ways, not only with your knee -- and his knee is fine by the way, it's 100 percent. But it does things to your mind. Whether you're not comfortable yet in the pocket, or you're a little fidgety, if you're not using your correct form, I think that gives you a little inaccuracy.
"We also have to get him some confidence back. I think more than anything that it's confidence."
Londry-Jackson looked like he had control of the game on the Mountaineers' opening drive. He guided the Mountaineers on an 80-yard, 11-play drive that ended with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Cox.
But the Mountaineers' offense stumbled the rest of the first half. Five of the remaining seven drives ended in punts. Two other ended in interceptions.
Bryant took over at the start of the second half. Three of the first four of Bryant's drives ended in punts. Another ended when App State turned the ball over on downs.
"We did a good job on the first drive," Satterfield said. "We mixed it up very well. They got a little tired on that first drive defensively and got some first downs on it. Then they hit that touchdown and the momentum switched."
If Londry-Jackson and Bryant were looking for help from the running game, they were probably disappointed. Appalachian State ran for just 67 yards on 31 carries, which is an average of 2.2 yards per carry.
Ricky Fergerson led the Mountaineers with 44 yards on 14 carries. Cox added 36 yards on eight carries, and both runner's longest carry went for just nine yards each.
"We were trying to come in and establish the run," Satterfield said. "Their linebackers -- I think No. 4 (D'Vonte Grant) did a great job of plugging the inside the middle of their weak side of their line. We just never did get it going."
Satterfield admitted that the Mountaineers should have turned to the passing game sooner instead of trying to force the running game.
"We probably should have opened it up more," Satterfield said. "When we did open it up, and go to some of our four-wide sets in the later part of the game, our guys started to make some plays out on the edge, and that's where we needed to be. Even with out running game, we got a couple of speed sweeps outside and a couple of option plays. They did a good job of plugging up the middle."