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5 storylines to the 2014 season

Wow ... no faces on the coverHere are our thoughts. What are yours?

Spread the offense
Last season App State recorded 4,917 yards of offense. Of that, 1,809 – 38 percent(!) – were via the feet of Marcus Cox. He also scored 21(!) of the team’s 35 touchdowns (second most was Tony Washington with 4). This year the sophomore will be facing deeper, faster, and stronger defenses. New weapons are needed. Simms McElfresh, Barrett Burns and Malachi Jones are the top returning receivers not named “Marcus Cox.” Only Jones caught more than 30 passes last season (31), less than half the touches of the departed Andrew Peacock (78) and Washington (64). Kam Bryant (71 percent(!) completion rate last season) will be working with new targets while helping establish redshirt freshman Terrence Upshaw as a Cox conspirator. That’s a lotta new working parts to mesh.

How quickly will the red shed the green?
It was a well known secret last season that Coach Satterfield went long-term in his rosterizing. A fleet of talented freshmen – described as “the program’s best recruiting class to date” – was given redshirt status and left to learn from the bench. They cover the spectrum, from running back to linebacker. The depth is going to be needed. One of the traditional challenges of an FCS App State facing an FBSer was maintaining fresh legs in the fourth. The scholarship parity is much more equitable now, at least in numbers. The talent needs to be as well.

Is the Coach Satt system set?
Last season App State returned a starting QB and an experienced offensive line. They opened the season at Montana and … oops, botched a snap. Oops, botched a snap. Thus begin a litany of weekly comments from the coach insisting the team was “working on the little things.” Fundamentals, fundamentals, FUN-damentals. The team’s play did improve as the season progressed, but was it thanks to simpler schemes, more repetition or maturation of a new system? Given the aforementioned green on the roster, there’s again potential for early slips on another steep learning curve.

And you are …..?
With the exception of Georgia Southern, App State is conducting the equivalent of 11 first dates. Sure, the Mountaineers played the Wolverines before, but that was three coaches ago. As for the rest of the schedule any history of which to speak is actually ancient history. Six foes are first-ever meetings. Two others were last played in 2000ish. Thus Coach Satt and his staff will be acclimating themselves to new schemes and new personalities weekly. Of course, it works both ways – Sun Belters learning App State – but being the new kid in class carries its own special stresses.

Patience is a virtue and dammit we want it now!
After years of flying high, going sub-sea level hurt. App State went 4-8 last season, with just two wins at home. Betting odds are, this year won’t be much better. There are two – on paper – gimmies on the schedule: Campbell and Georgia State. But the former comes six days after a potentially brutal opening game at the Big House, the latter so bad that it could be easily overlooked. A .500 season is a worthwhile goal, but the Mountaineer faithful are accustomed to higher bars. Pessimism is easy, sure, but it’s expressed just as loud as success. Home attendance will tell.

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