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WAKE Up Call

#GiveEmHell

 

There’s only one way to start this one: Back. In. Black.

Now think ahead to Saturday afternoon, folks. Mild 76-degree early autumn Boone air mixed with that High Country sunshine. AC/DC booming from the new video board sound system as excited Mountaineers bounce out for the opening kickoff as the sellout standing-room-only crowd roars its excitement.

/chills/

App State vs. Wake Forest. Mountaineers vs. Demon Deacons.

(Your blogger has never understood just what a ‘Demon Deacon’ is. Wouldn’t such a creature just be a, well, demon?! And how is that a fitting mascot for a Baptist institution…since it seems to have a relation to Mr. Lucifer? So. Many. Questions.)

Black Saturday. This old rivalry renewed. Pretty cool stuff.

The 2-1 Mountaineers are…well, we’re still not sure. Like it or not – and many of you won’t – App State is lucky to come into this much-anticipated tilt with a winning record. Last week in San Marcos, Texas, was close.

Too. Close. (More on this in a moment.)

But your blogger often is – and this won’t surprise his many “fans” on the Twitters – lucky than good. So that 20-13 outcome over Texas State is just fine in the Grand Scheme, and not even this cynical realistic App Fan will remember that much about it come Week 7 or 10.

So here comes 3-0 Wake to face an old foe, but one its smug alums and fan base view as a something of a distant cousin, though one they have to grudgingly admit is pretty good at football. What they’ll find is this once-upon-a-time-punch-above-its-weight I-AA, err FCS, program – and university, for that matter – is all grown up. And legit.

No matter how cynical realistic one felt as the Bobcats’ late rally ended after 99 yards at the App State 1 yard line, good teams find a way. That’s what the ‘Neers did last Saturday night.

What will Mountaineer fans will find in the Deacons (other than plenty of empty boxes of Chardonnay, we bet…)? Points. Lots. Of. Points.

51 in the opener vs. FCS Presby. (Right, yawn.) 34 on the road in the ACC opener at Boston College. (You’ve got our attention.) And 46 last week at home against typically pesky Utah State. (Impressive.)

For those into, you know, facts – rather than blind loyalty and rationalizing those yuge numbers in a way to fit your whims – that is 126 points in three games. Advanced mathematicians tell me that translates into 42 points per outing.

Gulp.

So how do the Deacs do it? One word: Balance. At least yardage-wise. They have kept it on land (156 times) twice as much as they’ve launched it (73). Yet, they’ve gained 10 more overall rushing yards than passing ones. Wake has two backs over 200 yards and two more who have topped the century mark. Starting QB John Wolford has completed 64 percent of his throws for 500 yards and 6 TDs – against zero, zip, nadda INTs.

This is an offensive machine, folks.

And your blogger has yet to mention the Deacs’ D, which has surrendered just 27 points all season and 820 total yards.

Double gulp.

App State might have to win a shootout at 3,333 feet.

Granted, the Mountaineer defense ain’t shabby. Only 830 yards surrendered so far, and only 51 points (31 of those to SEC contender Georgia).

Still.

Texas State outgained the Mountaineers by the length of an entire football field (385 yards to 283). And Bobcat QB Damian Williams often found holes in the Black & Gold Yellow defense, going 23-35 for 260 yards and a TD toss. TSU often moved the ball easily, including the last-minute drive – stop calling it an App State “stand,” T-State just ran out of time, folks.

Then there are the Mountaineers’ offense woes growing pains. That starts with RB Jalin Moore. Last Saturday, “The Franchise” became “The Understudy,” with Terrence Upshaw becoming the workhorse feature back late. In fact, Moore is third among all App State rushers behind Upshaw and Dreamboat QB Taylor Lamb.

Hmm…

Sure, teams know Moore is a beast. So they’re keying on him. Even this football novice can see that. A lot of that has to do with an offensive line that appears much more adept at giving Lamb time in the passing game than bulldozing defenders to open holes in the ground game.

But we know the Mountaineers have to run the ball to be successful. Just review the stats since Scott Satterfield became the head football coach on Stadium Drive. Again, those who value those wacky things called facts will share this App Fan’s concerns about the health of the running game (minus the number of Lamb’s option run, which has been a nice surprise).

The Deacons can be run on, surrendering 130 yards a contest on land. But teams have not been able to turn those into many points. Coach Visor and Co. have to find some sort of scheme to get Moore going – and resist stubbornly sticking with him over Upshaw if the backup has a few solid spot runs and the game is within reach. Satt made the wise decision last week to that end.

But speaking of scoring on Wake, teams have only made it into the red zone five times. They crossed the goal line a total of two times.

Which brings us to Satterfield’s red zone play calling against Texas State. In a word: putrid. Sure, one red zone trip likely would have ended in 7 points had Lamb not coughed it up deep, but…

…Time and again Satt went away from what was working, dialed up the exact wrong play, or went into what can only be described as chickensh*t mode.

(For any high-minded Wake fans reading this, that means overly-conservative bordering on cowardly.)

There’s every reason to expect Lamb will have to win this one with his arm, while using his legs a lot. It’s one thing to savage hapless FCS D-II Savannah State up top, it’s another to take on an ACC secondary. Remember, Lamb only mustered 167 yards passing against Texas State, which is a far cry from being even a Power 5 cellar-dweller.

And, by the way, will the two WRs who were expected to be among Lamb’s primary targets, Shaedon Meadors and Darrynton Evans, finally make their 2017 debuts? Are both guys still injured? Are they out due to injuries? What gives? Is there a beat reporter who might, you know, snoop around?

Can the Mountaineers win this one in what should be an electric atmosphere inside Kidd Brewer Stadium? Absolutely. Will it be a major challenge from a Power 5 foe that is very much on the rise? The answer to that one, for those not into blind loyalty, is an emphatic yes.

Prediction Time: Your blogger would love nothing more than an App upset over the hated Deacs. But one just gets the sense the Mountaineers have started slowly and are trying to find their footing. A work in progress, if you will. There’s every reason, based on the last two seasons, App will get it together and be in the #FunBelt title race late. But your blogger just doesn’t feel good about this one. Wake seems to be hitting on all cylinders, especially offensively. At the time of this writing, the Deacons are merely a 4.5 road favorite. I write merely because I’d take Wake minus at 14.5. Sorry, AppFans, it’ll be a great scene at The Rock, but this one’s going to get out of hand with a late Zac Thomas TD toss making it look closer than it ever really was. Wake 35, App State 17.

Still: Give. ‘Em. Hell.

–Appstradamus

Follow your favorite barely tolerated blogger DURING the game on Twitter @APPstradamus for analysis, snark and third-down bell emojis (!!).

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: WAKE Up Call | AppStateNews

  2. AppStateRick83

    September 22, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Wake does not have the offensive weapons that Georgia has…no way they score more than the Bulldogs. cut that 35 point prediction in half and let's hope that our offensive line finally gels and Moore is healthy enough to return to beast mode. Mr. Duck is due for a pick 6 which would be awesome for this what'll be a nail-biter of a game.

  3. carbine762

    September 23, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Ahhhhh…..so close!

    Heads up though. Wake is pretty darn good this year and should compete well in the ACC. I think we showed that we're right up there with them. Now to sweep the Sun Belt!

    • AppStateRick83

      September 28, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      Yep, Wake has a good team and it'll be interesting to see how they do with the remainder of their schedule. I certainly feel like we can win our final 8 games but there could be a slip-up somewhere along the way. I love the way the young receivers are playing and I hope that Jalin Moore gets back to being 100% healthy with this bye week. If Moore's back on track and with Upshaw playing so well and the O-line gelling and getting better we'll be 10 & 2 hopefully and should challenge to win our 3rd bowl game in a row…but let's just worry about NMSU right now…I'm getting ahead of myself.

  4. Pingback: A Missed Opportunity – AppFan.com

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