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Preview: Texas-Sized Trap?

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Last week started like this. But it ended like this.

Turns out Georgia Southern is beyond the well-earned Stink moniker. Oh, these Eagles are rotting before our eyes after the Mountaineers spotted them 10 points…at home…then ran off 34 consecutive points en route to a rout ass-whipping.

The Mountaineers started, well, about as bad as they could have. We won’t review the glorious details here. But App State never felt out of it, especially not after the Mountaineer D got its first stop down two possessions and we all realized they had things under control. Then the Eagles sent in the freshman QB — and that was all she wrote, folks.

Domination. Stink stunk.

The ‘Neers were easily on their way to 6-2 and 4-0 in the Sun Belt #FunBelt, and GSU was on its way to a fourth loss in five games — and, very likely, a few years in that most nightmarish of places: FB$ purgatory. Maybe with yet another new coach who will vow to restore the vaunted Triple Option Gimmick Offense.

Your blogger’s smarter App State football pal, “Coach B,” reports feelings of sadness that Georgia Southern appears in a tailspin. Can report similar feelings. After all, this move to Big Boy Football, at least for now, was partly based on keeping the rivalry intact — and making it a showcase #FunBelt tilt year after year.

Upon transitioning, GSU opted for a roster chock full of rented junior college players who once had Power Five connections. App State, under the Satterfield Visor Administration, chose to grow a FB$ program organically, mostly via recruits. The Eagles hologram of a squad soared in that initial 2014 campaign; the Mountaineers struggled early, but closed strong as the kids grew up on the field.

Fast forward two seasons, and Southern is in free-fall. Bottom line: The Sun Belt, and the Black And Blue Rivalry, need the Eagles to, as Jim Rome would say, not suck. From us to you, Eagle Nation, let this blogger deliver a simple message, printed on cardstock — the heavy kind, the good stuff — and handed over in a (virtual) black box wrapped with a yellow Nike Gold (™) ribbon: Get your sh*t together. Pronto.

**

/clears throat/

/steps down off soapbox/

That felt good. At your blogger’s (advancing rapidly, it feels like) age, rhetorical beatdowns are about all I can deliver. But the rush from hammering Southern on this keyboard must pale in comparison to what the Mountaineers players and coaches must have felt last Thursday night in Statesboro Stinksboro.

But be careful, folks. A flailing, nothing-to-lose Texas State club is headed to Boone and eager to feel that Exact. Same. Feeling.

Here’s what we’ve got: A 2-5 (0-3 Sun Belt) squad sandwiched in between a blood rival in primetime on national teevee ESPNU and the conference front-runner in a week’s time in what likely is a defacto #FunBelt Title Game.

/grimaces, searches for a bottle of something brown in one’s desk drawer/

The schedule-maker, he she is a regular (expletive) comedian. One couldn’t have set up a trap game better if they tried…

/wonders whether they did indeed try…/

There was a time, not that many weeks ago, when this App Fan would have worried about a stumble…and a fall out of the conference championship picture. This space was used to question QB Taylor Lamb and his WRs, a too-cute-by-half offensive coaching staff and its play calls, as well as the Mountaineer defense.

No longer.

The Black & Gold Express is humming. Sure, it’s less flashy offensively than in the past. But it boasts the country’s 16th-best running back in Marcus Cox Jalin Moore, who has stepped into the Lead Dog role a season early due to Cox’s injury troubles. Moore already has 900 yards on land, and Cox — who didn’t appear to be burdened by rust against Southern — has 440 in limited action.

The Apps’ rushing attack ranks No. 34 in All The Land, at 213 yards per game. Dragging what’s left of another miserable season into The Rock at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3 will be a T-State D that gives up a whopping 234 rushing yards per game — only 15 FBS defenses are worse against the run.

Cox’s role against GSU was the change-of-pace back, with Moore taking the tough carries. If Coach Satterfield & Co. are looking for a game to get No. 14 fully back in the swing of things, the #FunBelt offers no better opponent, folks.

The Bobcats will want to pass. They’ve taken to the air more than kept it on land this season, and have several WRs with more than 20 catches. But how many came in garbage time? Lots, methinks…

…Once again, expect the ‘Cats to have their moments throwing it. But mostly between the 30s. This Mountaineer D is among the best in the country at minimizing damage in the red zone.

And speaking of the part of the field closest to the end zone: App State has struggled at time with offensive red zone proficiency. In fact, at times, it’s been downright offensive to watch. We expect the ‘Neers to run early, run often, and score plenty. But heading into a big colossal match-up with Troy, we’d feel better with Lamb, Cox, Moore and their colleagues got a few chances to clean up the confusion, penalties and busted plays inside the 20.

Satt will keep throwing it, too, as the passing game continues to develop past Fun Belt Functional and toward weapons-grade (enough) status.

It’s a tune-up game for sure. But one the Mountaineers should win handily in front of a home crowd eager to welcome them back after beating the hated Eagles of #Stink Land. And if this blogger’s lone gripe is to fine-tune one of the nation’s most potent offenses, the Mountaineers must be pretty damn good.

Bottom Line: Tune it up for Troy. But don’t look beyond T-State. Run often. Give Cox some carries. Keep those Bobcat WRs in front of you and pressure the QB. Survive. Advance.

Prediction: The Apps cruise, perhaps after a sleepy start. The 31.5-point spread seems too big, but not impossible. Mountaineers come close to covering, however: ASU 41, T-State 13. #GiveEmHell

–Appstradamus (On Twitter: @APPstradamus)

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