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Preview: App State vs. The Stink

app-state-the-stink-2016

Blood Feud – noun – “A lengthy conflict between families involving a cycle of retaliatory killings.”

We at AppFan.com would like to add a second definition: “Appalachian State vs. Georgia Southern The Stink.”
/Your blogger thought he smelled something putrid. It must be late October, when the foul stench of rancid bird fills our nostrils…/
Sure, the last part of the Internet’s definition is a bit dramatic. But in a college football context, this rivalry certainly includes a conflict between clans and a cycle of retaliatory victories that have clinched conference titles, eliminated one’s foe from title races, altered Playoff seeding, and impacted bowl bids. Then there are the intense hatred and immense bragging-rights between longtime rivals.
The mainstream lamestream sports media will focus on Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State, Oregon-Oregon State, and other “Power Five” (it’s more like three….) match ups. App Fans and Stink Nation can agree on this much: There’s a rivalry down south that might take place in smaller stadiums — though, every other year, it’s played in the Statesboro Dump, home of one of the lamest chants ever to ascend to FB$ football — but produces clashes just as thrilling.
After a long — at times tedious and hard-to-watch — seven-week grind that included letting Tennessee off the hook, a Hurricane in Boone, a shootout in Ohio and several business-like Sun Belt #FunBelt wins, the wait ends Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Appalachian State (5-2, 3-0) vs. Georgia Southern (4-3, 3-1). Mountaineers vs. Eagles.
/Too much adrenaline in the system. Must. Sit. Down./
Black and Yellow Nike Gold (™). Blue and White Dingy. Mix those colors and you get one thing: War.
/Stands, walks around room manically in what is an annual ritual for your blogger, punches the air as if that damn eagle just swooped in…/

It’s. So. On.

App Fans hate The Stink. And those smelly birds and their fans loathe us. Stink Nation County must have a bad taste — other than the hour-old dip their cousin Betty Sue left in their mouths after some heavy petting — over the Mountaineers leading the all-time series, 17-13-1. Who allowed a tie in this rivalry anyway? Thanks, SoCon “braintrust.”
(Don’t really miss such decision-making botches. Though the #FunBelt officiating is oddly similar… After last week’s ridiculous 15-yard-penalties on the Apps and no-calls on Idaho, one must ask: What in the [expletive] [expletive] constitutes a personal foul in the Dixie Conference?)
I digress, back to those foul-smelling birds: These aren’t, well, your Georgia Southern Eagles.
Head coach Tyson Summers has attempted to bring GSU into the 21st 20th Century by throwing the ball more often. But because, as a proud Southern Boosters Georgia Southern University Athletic Foundation, Inc. member might put it: /begin Foghorn Leghorn accent here/ “Whhhhyyyy, we hay-ive uh trud-E-shun here caylled thuh Tree-pule Op-shun Owf-feeense.”

Per the Winston-Salem Journal, the birds still run its ground-based option attack 74 percent of the time. But that’s down from 84 percent last season. Still, Coach Satterfield and Co. know what to expect down in Statesboro. Yes, lots of Waffle Houses, poisonous stenches and Trump signs. Also, lots of option runs.

But, alarmingly, it’s not how often GSU is tossing it around, it’s the results. Over its last three games — two of them losses — Southern has kept it on land just 66 percent of the time. During that span, however, the Eagles have been hitting long passes up top, including long touchdown tosses. And this App D’s Achilles heel is stopping the pass — outside the red zone, at least.
/Points at Mr. Duck. We’re going to need more #Quack’ing/
We hate The Stink. But we (grudgingly) respect The Stink. There’s no denying its success at the FCS and so far at the FB$ levels. So its Triple Option Gimmick ground attack with an aerial component sounds formidable, right?
Not. So. Fast. Let’s take a trip southward, shall we? Southern has lost three of four, and barely escaped #FunBelt doormat (for now) New Mexico State (adios, very soon) last Saturday. Your blogger could drown you in a list of stats and trends and observations from afar….
…Instead, here’s an assessment of the Eagles from a local columnist:

“The Eagles struggle in the red zone, they play from behind, too many times the defense looks lethargic and doesn’t play through the whistle, and their offensive identity is still a mystery.

“What are you saying when you throw your freshman gunslinger Seth Shuman into the fray, losing the chance to redshirt him in the process? It felt like a sign of desperation, and sticking with Ellison, who ran for 117 yards and completed 7 of 8 passes for 101 yards for two touchdowns, was the best thing that came out that game.”

Yikes. Can’t say it’s not enjoyable to read about hard times in Statesboro. It is! Just delicious, really.
Still, if you haven’t peaked at the stats, maybe skip it. Even with the Eagles’ running attack off its torrid 2015 pace, its 263 yards per game still ranks 11th in the country. Many of the names you should expect to get ample carries Thursday night will be familiar: RB Matt Breida and option QBs Kevin Ellison and Favian Upshaw. Add top rusher Wesley Fields, a RB who has amassed 409 yards on 78 carries with three TDs.

Even the nation’s 24th-best rushing defense (App is tied with those Blackshirts from Nebraska, both giving up a stingy 124.4 rushing yards per outing) likely will give up some yards to the Triple Gimmick.

The Mountaineer front seven will be tested. It’ll stack the box plenty. It’s all about assignment football. If you have the QB, play the QB. If you have the RB, right…

…But, let me be clear: there’s trouble brewing in Statesboro. When you have two QBs, you don’t have one. When you have three, you usually don’t have…much of a season. The Triple Gimmick ain’t what it used to be, and teams are finding ways to slow it down. Consider this, from the Head Eagle’s mouth:

“Over the last couple weeks, not getting boxes (of defenders near the line) that were favorable for us, we’ve not been able to do some of the things we’d like to be able to do in the run game. We went with the decision to try to throw the ball more and try to make people honor us on some of our edges and on the perimeter with the throwing game, and it’s helped us open up our running game.”
Man. Oh. Man. Your blogger would never jinx the Mountaineers in a Rivalry Game that doubles as a Round 2 #FunBelt Title Tournament match by predicting a blowout win as the jet-lagged and struggling Eagles cry for mercy in their own stadium. But…
…Let’s just say we here at AppFan World HQ think Vegas has it about right: App is a (at time of writing) 5-point road favorite.
And there’s no secret what the Mountaineers want to do, and what to expect from the man beneath the visor: Satterfield will want to run often, but he loves to come out throwing it around. That’s what this analyst blogger couch-bound fan expects early Thursday night.

RB Jalin Moore likely will get the load of the carries, as Boone is mum about whether Marcus Cox (#BeastMode), who was ready and practiced prior to but didn’t play against Idaho, will go in the biggest game (so far) of the season. The Mountaineers roll up 195 yards on the ground per game, and the birds surrender nearly 160. Gotta like love those numbers, folks.

Junior QB Taylor Lamb has developed a functional relationship with WRs Shaedon Meadors (23 catches) and Zy Letman (8 recent catches, including several long ones, and TE Barrett Burns (11 grabs). Expect the ‘Neers to go up top plenty under the lights on ESPN-U. That said, Lamb can’t throw it to the Eagles; he’s been efficient, if ordinary, much of the season. That has to continue Thursday night.

Despite Southern’s struggles, this is a rivalry game, meaning anything can happen. Being back home at an amped-up Paulson Stadium should help GSU hang around. And in #HateWeek games, it often comes down to which club can make a big play or three late.

Can Lamb and that finally developing passing attack manufacture a late drive to get a win on ESPN The Ocho? We should know by 10:30 11 (so many commercials, so many reviews) on Thursday night. This App Fan feels a lot better about Lamb’s chances of leading a heroic drive than he did just a few weeks ago. We could be in store for a Cardiac Apps finish…or another one-sided affair.

/Reaches for a paper bag, another high (for a school night)-ABV beer, and a(nother) Xanax/
Enough “analysis.” BRING ON THE STINK! Your blogger is j-a-c-k-e-d. Not there yet? Watch this again.
Bottom Line: Assignment football. Watch the big plays up top. Pass early. Run often. Limit turnovers. Eliminate The Stink from the Sun Belt round-robin title tourney. Survive and advance to the next round. Become (formally) bowl-eligible.
Prediction: When Southern is passing more and running less, there’s trouble in the South’s smelliest town. It won’t be easy, especially early. But, in the end, it won’t be that close: Mountaineers 33, Stink 17. Give. Em. Hell.
–Appstradamus (On Twitter: @APPstradamus)

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Preview: App State vs. The Stink | AppStateNews

  2. carbine762

    October 29, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Well THAT was unexpected! Georgia Southern looked far worse than I thought they would. I really expected they would come with their best effort against us, but if that's all they've got, well…….

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