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Finally, let's talk some football

a real buzz everyone lovesExactly 128 days (and counting) to the end of Intermission, there’s already some guessing going on as to exactly how good App State’s first foe is going to be.

According to one report’s best guess possibility estimate, East Carolina will be the team to beat in C-USA.

Arrrrrrg!

Here’s why I like East Carolina to repeat: The Pirates were first in C-USA last season in total defense and they return eight starters, among them, arguably, the league’s top defensive prospect in end C.J. Wilson. Wilson, projected by some outlets as C-USA’s first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, had 18.5 tackles for loss a year ago and 10.5 sacks.

Offensively, eight starters are back, too, led by quarterback Patrick Pinkney, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility earlier this spring by the NCAA.

The teams most likely to put pressure on the Pirates will be Southern Miss and Southeastern Conference transfer-enhanced Memphis.

Of course, with AE, Quick and Co. coming back almost near full strength, it’s CW that App State is a FCS title favorite in 2009. Which begs the obvious question –

Exactly which team has the most to lose with a loss September 5?

If ECU loses (now taking bets!), the Pirates become somewhat of a Michiganesque punchline, with confirmation of their status as a D1 alsoran within their own state. Plus, we get to give them unending grief.

If App State loses (fingersinearsNoNoNoNoNo!), Michigan officially becomes more fluke than force of nature, with confirmation that we’re really not as big time as we like to think we are. Plus, JP Giglio gets easy fodder for one heck of a nyah-nyah column.

So which is worse – knowing you are who everyone thought you were, or knowing you’re no where near as good as you’d like to think you can be?

128 days to decide ….

INSERT WAKE FOREST INSULT HERE. By “fluke” we mean, random rare win against a I-A program. As of now talk of “success” against the big boys is kind of a joke.

40 Comments

  1. AppState08

    April 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Now you have me all nervous appfan! The heat is on!

  2. Michael

    April 30, 2009 at 11:29 am

    We have far less to lose. If we lose this game, it merely confirms that we are what we are: a team with 22 fewer scholarships that stands fifth or sixth in line in our state for recruits (debatably ahead of Duke). If the game's a close loss for us, the argument that our program is inferior remains as weak; after all, games between equally matched teams favor the HOME team. For us, losing would not be a backslide. If we lose, sure, it'll hurt bragging rights within the state just as losing to Richmond hurt bragging rights within the FCS, but it doesn't make the Michigan game a fluke.

    (Quick side rant: The notion that the Michigan game was a fluke is absurd. That game was not basketball, where we simply got "hot" and shot threes. We didn't pull any statue of libertys. Michigan didn't have but 50 yards of penalties, which isn't great but not awful, either. We turned the ball over more than they did. We simply exploited those NFL-calbiber players' weaknesses. No fluke. Just a great game. Oh, and the Michigan team was NOT overrated. They went 6-2 in the Big Ten, which is as impressive as 6-2 ACC, 7-2 Pac Ten, 6-1 Big East, or 6-2 Big 12 that year. Oh, and they beat Florida IN Florida in a year between their titles, with Tebow at the helm. End rant.)

    For ECU, losing to ASU cost them street cred. ECU has been trying desperately to gain respect nationally and with the state's ACC teams. They want to prove they're just as good as the ACC, not worse than an FCS team.

  3. Jamey

    April 30, 2009 at 11:57 am

    3rd option for who has the most to lose at this game: MY LIVER.

    That is all. Good day.

  4. Appnaysayer

    April 30, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Interesting rant, Michael. I agree that the Michigan game was not a "fluke," but for a different reason. On that day, our offense simply took what the Michigan D was giving, namely the open middle on pass plays out of the spread (Even Quick's dropped pass in the 2nd half was, I think, a crossing route.) I do think we were "lucky" at the end, though, to block the FG. We should never have been in that position. Had Moore run a play, had AE spike the ball or otherwise engaged in some basic clock management, the game is over with our FG. If you look at the final stats, they were basically even, indicating that, as you say, it wasn't a fluke.

    Now as to Michigan being overrated….they were ranked 5th in preseason and I believe 18th at season's end, so they were, in fact, "overrated" in the polls at least.

    Agree on what's at stake at ECU. Not much for us. A win boosts our profile some, but wouldn't mean nearly as much national attention as did the Michigan game. A loss for us means little or nothing in the FCS hunt. ECU has been trying to boost its credibility for years on the gridiron and off. (Maybe if their med school stopped doing those tonsil transplants….) A loss to us and they're back to wearing the emperor's new clothes.

  5. clayton

    April 30, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I don't give a bleep about what the game means. I just want to win it.

  6. craig

    April 30, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    We all know the App team that played Michigan was the very best team in school history. No fluke, and let's keep in mind that Mich went on to win almost every Big Ten game (not OSU) that season, and beat Florida in the bowl game. They weren't overrated.

    Our 2007 roster is nowhere near as talented as the 2009 team, so let's stop making these comps. I think the 2009 team is good enough to beat ECU.

    As we saw last year, we can't just depend on Armanti to win big games. We need some other players to become big stars this season. We need a star running back.

  7. DRM

    April 30, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I especially want to win it just for the pleasure of watching Mark May ridicule Lou Holtz. But realistically, we shouldn't win; losing by a narrow margin should be within reach, as long as we win the turnover battle.

    I agree that Michigan was overrated, that we generally took what they allowed, and that we could have done much better with end-of-game clock management. But another huge factor was Dexter Jackson's speed versus Michigan's secondary; they could have "allowed" crossing routes all day, tackled us at or just after the catch, and still held us to 14 or 17 first half points, instead of the 28 we scored. But they couldn't catch Jackson on a couple of key plays.

  8. craig

    April 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Sorry. Got it backwards in my last post. The 2009 team is nowhere as talented as the 2007 team. My bad.

  9. Michael

    April 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Here's the thing about these FBS games: They seem to carry much more weight for the long-term reputation of our program while they really mean little for achieving the season's goals. I mean, even with the Michigan win, we were still a Fumblin Duke play away from being one-and-done in '07. Yet that game will give us an edge in recruiting for years to come (at minimum, compared to other FCS schools).

    Likewise, beating ECU would do a lot to legitimize the program's reputation in the state, which would further solidify recruiting and likely help draw in even more fans for gamedays. Ironically, the game still has less to do with a run at the playoffs than any other game on the schedule.

    Personally, I want it all. I want us to beat ECU. I want us to sweep our non-conference. I want us to destroy the SoCon. I still want at least two other SoCon teams in the playoffs. I want Armanti to be a Heisman candidate. I want ECU to win the rest of their games, further legitimizing our own success. And, of course, I want us to have our fourth title in five years. Oh, and I want our team to be healthy. And I want to be able to get to a game this year (finally)!

  10. boonedog

    April 30, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Winning would be great. Coming out healthy and ready to win a Championship is our Goal.

    We should all be thankful for ECU giving us this opportunity. They have nothing to gain.

    Let's be humble, lest we end up sounding like…. Tarheel football fans.

  11. tim

    April 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Craig, I believe you said it correctly the first go-round. The 2009 team should be the best team ASU has ever fielded. At the end of '08, App was suppose to be returning 38 of 44 on the 2-deep. I guess it's 36 of 44 with the loss of WR J Johnson and S T Dowda. The o-line is the biggest question mark at this point. If they produce and the team stays healthy, this will be the best team to grace the field at KBS, IMO.

    As for the ECU game, a win will be hard to come by. Not that it's impossible, but unlike Michigan, ECU is familiar with the spread offense and have had success against it(see WVU). They bring back an experienced o-line ('08 LSU) and a couple of studs on the d-line (8 Defensive returners). ECU's left DE #95 Wilson is nasty and will be coming off AE's backside making App's RT of the utmost importance. The Michigan team we faced only had 4 returning starters on D. ECU won some big games early last year before being hit with the injury bug, similar to ASU. Many of the Pirate back-ups got lots of PT last year giving bench players lots of live game experience. I believe App will play them tough, but I see ECU winning by 2 possessions. I hope the team proves me wrong as I'll be in Greenville come September!

  12. Drew Arrowood

    April 30, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    "Many of the Pirate back-ups got lots of PT last year giving bench players lots of live game experience"

    True, but if we remember correctly, App back-ups got a lot of playing time as well last season.

  13. A.Freeman

    April 30, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I cant take it…my heart is already pounding through my chest just reading this stuff.

  14. tim

    April 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    DA I understand that hence why I said injury bug a la ASU, but that just adds to their depth with the 22 extra schollies.

  15. Appnaysayer

    April 30, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    On Michigan (never going to stop talking about that one), I'd add that Armanti's speed was also a factor.

  16. dynast3

    April 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Why we won Michigan? Our speed. It's cliche but BigTen teams simply don't have the team speed that other conferences and schools utilize. The difference was so stark that we were able to get our players in space and continue to make big plays, there were times where our offense lacked a discernable rhythm but we found ways to exploit the gaping holes in their D. Being at LSU, we got our a$$es whooped up and down the field that day, or until LSU decided to put in the backups. The reason? They possess the same speed as us, all while having anywhere from 20-40 lb advantages on our players. So the moral is, speed can win when there is a huge difference and lack of familiarity with the spread offense. It is negated when that speed is equaled and matched with superior size and strength and familiarity with the spread. ECU has all the athletes we have and tons of size that we can't match up with. I expect this game to be close to start but I don't see us winning this game, and it wouldn't even surprise me if we lost by 3 or more TD's. Look at talent alone, our recruiting classes are routinely ranked in the low 100's nationally while ECU is generally in the 70-80 range. Their defense is one of the best in the FBS, they're front 7 are a top 15 in the country. We just shook up the O-line and they are up for the task of their young lives having to protect Armanti in the first game of the year. I just see a train wreck waiting to happen.

  17. dynast3

    April 30, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I should also add that they are hardly shaking in their boots when it comes to our "prolific" offense that everyone harps on. They play in a conference with Tulsa, one of the top 5 offenses in the FBS and also one of the most creative and explosive. Tulsa is 2nd in the country in scoring at 47 points a game, that's a ridiculous figure at that level. 5th in total rushing at almost 270 a game, and 9th in total passing at over 300 yards per game. ECU has seen a balanced, explosive offense and I can guarantee we don't hold a candle to what Tulsa does offensively.

  18. appfanAl

    April 30, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    If you don't think our speed and the spread offense was critical in the win at MI, look at what Oregon did to them the following week.

  19. dynast3

    April 30, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Learn to read. I said it was THE reason we beat Michigan. We were able to exploit their lack of speed and familiarity with the spread and it got us the win. The opposite was true at LSU. They have seen the spread a million times over, possess all the speed and more that we have, and owned a major size and strength advantage over our players. Our offense was almost useless against their D.

  20. tim

    April 30, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    dynast3, not that it would have changed the outcome, but the early dropped balls killed the offense's confidence. Which is unlike the UM game where we hit some bigs plays early.

  21. dynast3

    April 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Agreed on that count, Tim. But just seeing the physicality of LSU, the way they finished hits, got after the quarterback, and just laid down the lumber with some vicious hits, it was clear we couldn't compete with them on that day. The opening kickoff said it all for me. Just watching players who seemed to want to rip our heads off run down the field full speed and letting their size and strength just kill the kick returner. It was clear we were in for a longgggg day. Heck, I mean just watching the first play for them be a simple counter play and their O-line open one of the most gaping holes you'll ever see and Charles Scott sprinting effortlessly to the endzone. It was tough to watch that game, but it was fun to be a part of a SEC environment.

  22. Appnaysayer

    April 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    It started at the coin toss. Watching the game on the big screen at Legends, the LSU players were so big you couldn't even see the ASU captains. Heck the LSU captains literally blotted out the sun. My guess is that they're not majoring in organic chemistry, but LSU gets 'em big and somehow keeps most of 'em eligible.

  23. dynast3

    April 30, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Haha Tis the story of SEC football Naysayer. We should expect much the same at ECU, they grow some freaks out in BBQ country.

  24. Dominick

    April 30, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Got my tickets early yesterday morning! Can't wait for this game! Anyone see Paterno's comments on adding a team or 2 to the Big 10 in hopes of a playoff?! If we were to (one day) make the jump to the big time I could see us fitting in well there. I most definitely would NOT put us in the bottom of the Big 10…

  25. AppAttack

    May 1, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Dominick, you need to seek some professional help. Our program is light years away from any in the Big Ten or ECU for that matter. Those of you who actually think ECU and CUSA isn't any beter than the FCS are in for a rude awakening come Sept 5th.

  26. chAmPPs

    May 1, 2009 at 3:24 am

    Speed was the major factor at M. However, the unfortunate difference at ECU will be the weak O line we will have this year, much like last year. Our O line in 2007 was the best ever. That allowed the speed time to get the separation. The ECU defensive front is much bigger and faster than Mich was and our line is much weaker. That has to make keeping AE healthy the number one concern for the coaches. I'm going to be there, just like I was in Baton Rouge last year, but it could be a similar result. The one thing that could make a big difference is most everyone is back and they can draw off their performance in the second half at LSU last year.

  27. mark

    May 1, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Just ready for the GAME.. Making plans now and looking for tickets…..any help??

  28. Dominick

    May 1, 2009 at 7:37 am

    AppAttack, the reason we could be successful in the Big 10 isn't just because we have speed but more because of the type of offense we run. Theirs no way you can convince me that Michigan would actually of beat us last year either. Also, if we moved up we would get better recruits and more scholarships so it would really level our playing field. I'm not saying that our team now could go in there and not be a bottom feeder (only that we would be U of M again haha) but rather that if we moved up and received more scholarships and such that we could easily see success quickly.

  29. Gwaltineer

    May 1, 2009 at 7:40 am

    I got ticekts ordered through some Pirate Club friends. I've heard about a lot of that happening. They get to buy extra when they sign up for season tickets.

  30. Gwaltineer

    May 1, 2009 at 7:43 am

    For what it is worth, I think the 2006 team was the best we have fielded. That team could score 40 and hold anyone to 10 points. The 2007 team was the best offense we have ever had, but lacked a lot in the front 4 on D. We could litteraly win on defense in 2006.

  31. asu7

    May 1, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Michigan is in the past just like those 3 rings we won. They are all collecting dust. It is time we win some new hardware and they won't be giving any hardware for this one. We need to come out of this game healthy and focused.

    That being said this is the most important game of the season … because it is the next one. Forget the hype and play Mountaineer football. If we do that we win no matter who the opposition is.

    We need to make it 4 for Moore. If we happen to beat EZU in the process … well that will just be icing on Yosef's cake!

  32. Appnaysayer

    May 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Probably keeps JoPa awake at night worrying about us moving to the Big 10, don't you think?

    As for our showing in the 2nd half of LSU, by then the Bayou Bengals were treating it like a scrimmage and trying to figure out how to get the starters out of town ahead of the hurricane. Please, a little reality.

    Yes, we can beat ECU, but it'll take our best mistake-free football and a few turnovers on their part. It's the first game and those are sometimes unpredictable because the team with fewer scholarships is not usually at a disadvantage due to injuries. Losing by fewer than two touchdowns would be a good showing for us. But if we win, I say we skip the Big 10 and go right to the SEC. I'm sure we can do it. Gators beware.

  33. Chris

    May 1, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    One thing people overlook is that App's biggest weakness is run defense. Everyone tries to exploit that. JMU, LSU, Richmond, Wofford, even Samford ran on us. While we thrashed Wofford last year, they beat us down in 07. JMU ran over us in 07 and 08 and had it not been for the fumble, they would have beaten us in 07. LSU ran all over us. Had the Michigan coaching staff been competent, they would have utilized UM's superior OL size, worn us down with the running game, and the Big House Beatdown never occurs.

    If Holtz is smart, he will forego the passing attack and run as much as possible. It might be close at first, but they will wear down our defense and finish us off in the fourth quarter.

    If App wants to win this game, they MUST stop the ground attack of the Pirates. If not, they will run over us and win big.

  34. Benfar

    May 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Yep. That running back for LSU ave over 10 yards/carry in the 1st half. I think the heat was a factor as well. Heat is bad news for speed and depth.

  35. Gwaltineer

    May 4, 2009 at 4:05 am

    that's why I think the 2006 team was the best. That team could stop the run.
    We will have a better run game this year that we did last year.

  36. DRM

    May 4, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Chris, you're correct about Michigan. In the second half, that's pretty much exactly what they did–run and run and run some more, often right over us. What was the second half score–15 – 6 Michigan? And that with two blocked field goals?

  37. GhostLikeSwayze

    May 5, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I am a recent ECU alum and cannot tell y'all how excited we are to be hosting y'all in Greenville. Everyone is looking forward to it. I spoke with Skip Holtz during our spring football game and he said that this is going to one of the best games of the season (both on and off the field) and he can't wait for it.

    I have been in touch with a bunch of App St friends and are looking forward to some heavy tailgating and football excitement. I think this will be the best home game all season. I am definitely looking forward to it more than the Va. Tech game…

  38. WeBleedPurple

    May 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I'm excited about the game. Its been a long time since we played a FCS team. And I think whichever team that was, was kind of a pushover. App is a completely different animal.

    I'm interested to see just how good a defending back-to-back-to-back FCS national champion is.

  39. clayton

    May 8, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Definitely appreciate the kind words. But, "webleedpurple" you may have inadvertently poured salt in our wounds. We are no longer "defending" champions.

  40. WeBleedPurple

    May 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    My bad. Oh well. I still regard App St. as the USC of FCS.

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