Tough task ahead
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Mellette set a Southern Conference record with 236 yards and a touchdown receiving on 14 catches. Elon took a 21-0 first-quarter lead at the Phoenix’s Rhodes Stadium, and the Mountaineers were not playing well.
It didn’t last. The Mountaineers rallied to claim a 28-24 victory after Steven Miller caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jamal Jackson early in the fourth quarter.
Elon seeks revenge on the Mountaineers at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Making sure Mellette does not have such a big game falls on the Appalachian State defense. The defensive line must put pressure on quarterback Thomas Wilson, who threw for 344 yards last year against the Mountaineers.
It also falls on the Appalachian State secondary, especially cornerbacks Demetrius McCray and Jamil Lott. McCray, who is also a preseason All-American, said there is no magic formula to stopping Mellette.
It just comes down to play smart football, and being technically sound. The Mountaineers are likely to show Mellette and Wilson several different coverages, and Appalachian State’s cornerbacks will also likely get help from the safeties to double up on Mellette.
“I have to focus on my technique,” McCray said. “I’m trying not duplicate what he did last year. That’s what I’m really focusing on, getting my technique right in my man and in my zone coverages.”
Lott also said playing good technique on Mellette, who is 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, is important. Lott added that Mellette can’t be allowed to get a clean break off the line of scrimmage every time he goes out for a pass.
“We have to get physical with him,” Lott said. “We have to get our hands on him and get a good jam every time. We have to get physical with him and play good coverage.”
Being physical won’t be easy for Lott, who is 6-1, 195. Both Lott and McCray (6-0, 185) got plenty of experience covering big receivers last year when they practiced against 6-4 receiver Brian Quick, who is now with the St. Louis Rams.
“(Mellette’s) pretty physical, but we got plenty of work going against Quick in practice,” Lott said.