Mountaineers look to slow down Bulldogs
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Both ended in defeat. Charleston Southern hogged the football for over 40 minutes in its 27-24 victory over the Mountaineers. One week later, The Citadel used ball control to rally to a 31-28 victory in overtime.
The Appalachian State defense faces a different challenge Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Mountaineers face Samford's balanced offense, beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Samford (4-2, 2-0 SoCon) brings one of the top quarterbacks in the Southern Conference in Andy Summerlin. The senior leads the SoCon in passing with 1,754 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averages 292.3 yards through the air by connecting on 124-of-201 passes with just four interceptions.
"Samford is one of the best teams we've played so far," Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield said. "They have an outstanding quarterback who is having a great year, and they have the best wide receiver overall we've seen this year so far."
That receiver is Kelsey Pope, who has 25 catches for 441 yards and two touchdowns. His longest completion went for 83 yards.
Samford also has running back Fabian Truss, who is sixth in the SoCon in rushing with 519 yards and six touchdowns on 102 carries.
"Their quarterback is a really good player," App State linebacker John Law said. "That running back is really explosive when he gets the ball in his hands. He's good at setting up his blocks, so we have to make sure we get our fits right and get them right the first time."
Satterfield said the Bulldogs are just as effective throwing the ball as they are running it.
"They do love to get the ball in the air," Satterfield said. "Summerlin is having a great year, and he's not turning the ball over. They have a good receiving corps. They'll spread you out and try to get the ball to their playmakers."
The way Appalachian State approaches stopping the Samford multiple attack differently than stopping an option offense. The Mountaineers must react more to what Samford is doing instead of having different defenders designated to stop different phases of the option.
An emphasis that the Mountaineers had in practice during the week was eliminating opponents' third down conversions. The Citadel converted 6-of-13 of its third downs.
Charleston Southern was even more effective by converting 10-of-18 third downs and all three fourth-down conversions. The Buccaneers also held the ball for 42:04 minutes, more than twice the 17:56 the Mountaineers had the ball.
"The coaches have put emphasis on the linebackers getting more depth and basically us in the secondary, we have to be in our right spots, so we can make the play and go ahead and get off the field on third down," cornerback Rodger Walker said.
Appalachian State's offense has scored touchdowns on its first drive of the game in four of its last five games. But the Mountaineers have been inconsistent offensively, and is seventh in the SoCon in scoring at 22.0 points per game.
Kameron Bryant was promoted to starting quarterback against The Citadel, and responded by completing 19-of-23 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown.
"He gives us more of a running game," Satterfield said. "We were able to run a little option last week. He's still throwing the ball well. He made good decisions in the passing game."
The home run hitter of the Mountaineers' offense has been running back Marcus Cox, who is ninth in the SoCon in rushing with 398 yards on 73 carries.
Cox has also helped the Mountaineers offense by catching the ball.
He leads the SoCon, with Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree, in scoring with 60 points on 10 touchdowns.
Cox has scored five touchdowns receiving and five rushing.