Behr: Young App State defense plays well
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
The Mountaineers' defense has quietly been the team that's keeping the Mountaineers in games.
While the questions go on about whether Jamal Londry-Jackson or Kameron Bryant will be the starting quarterback, the Mountaineers' defense has put together two solid performances in App State's last two games.
Even though the Mountaineers lost 24-21 to North Carolina A&T on Sept. 7, the defense gave up just one touchdown drive and 244 total yards. The drive was also on a short field, an eight-play, 47-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard touchdown run.
Appalachian State's defense wasn't as smothering in the Mountaineers' 31-21 victory over Elon, but came through when the team needed it the most. After the Mountaineers built a 24-0 lead, Elon stormed back with three straight touchdowns to pull to 24-21.
The Mountaineers struggled during this period, but remember that sometimes the offense needs to sustain the ball during this time, too.
This is still a young defense. The two-deep is littered with freshmen and sophomores, but several are playing like juniors and seniors.
Linebacker John Law is one of those players. Law, a redshirt freshman, was supposed to be a sophomore this season, but injured his ankle stepping off the team bus last season and redshirted.
All Law has done is lead the team in tackles the last two games. He had 14 tackles against North Carolina A&T, but he saved his best for Elon.
Not only did Law intercept two passes and recover a fumble against the Phoenix, but he also finished with 15 tackles.
He reminds me of Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers. Neither player is particularly flashy, but both always seem to be in position to make a play.
Law is listed at 6-foot, 225 pounds. It would benefit his NFL prospects if he could grow a couple of inches, but former Panthers linebacker Sam Mills wasn't exactly a giant -- at least in terms of his size.
Law is just one of several Mountaineers with great potential. Young players such as strong safety Kevin Walton (sophomore), linebacker Kennan Gilchrist (true freshman), cornerback Alex Gray (redshirt freshman) and outside linebacker Rashaad Townes (true freshman) are already in the starting lineup with Law.
They're young, so they're going to make their share of mistakes. They'll line up wrong or they'll make bad reads or they'll miss tackles.
But they're also good football players who can make up for those mistakes by making big plays, either with a turnover or with a timely tackle.
Time will ultimately prove if they are the guys who will lead the team into the FBS. So far, so good.