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Week 13: Playoff Time

#GiveEmHell

App State controls its own destiny.

/Imma sit back, sip this drank, and let you let that sink in…/

After all that – the slow starts, the sluggish finishes, the penalties, the moronic play calls, the open opposing receivers running unmolested to paydirt, the sloppy losses, letting Wake off the hook – the Mountaineers can even secure an outright Sun Belt title.

/Runs around home office, pumping fist, ignoring the cat’s judgement/

Sure, a lot would have to go right the next two weeks for the Apps to avoid sharing the trophy with Arkansas State or Troy, but we’re sayin’ there a chance, folks. Another shared #FunBelt title looks more likely, and hey, after this up-and-down, nerves-fraying and alcohol-drenched season, we’d GLADLY cut the trophy in two and ship the other half to Troy or Jonesboro…

…But, before any App Fan should think about that, there’s plenty of work for the ‘Neers on the field. It starts Saturday at 2 p.m. in Hot-lanta.

Make no mistake, it’s playoff time in Da Belt. App State, Georgia State, Arkansas State, Troy are all 5-1 in conference play. The ‘Neers and Panthers play Saturday, and the Red Wolves and Trojans face off next week.

Assuming A-State and the Trojan Men take care of business this weekend, those two games will decide which teams share the trophy. But…but…but (!) should either Ark State or Troy pick up a second loss then beat the other next weekend, the winner of App State-Georgia State would take the outright #FunBelt title. Or, they both could lose this weekend, meaning the winner of App-GState would be playing next Saturday to secure the solo title.

/Gets a little dizzy, so many scenarios…./

This imperfect way of settling a FB$ conference championship starts soon at Georgia State’s ridiculous monstrosity of a stadium.

/What’s that? (Former App State AD) Charlie Cobb is behind it? That explains it. Moron…/

We’ve said enough about Mr. Cobb over the years. And, with so much on the line, we’re much more worried about another former App who now draws a G-State paycheck: Head Panther Shawn Elliott.

/Gulp…/

See, Elliot learned a thing or two about a thing or two from the Head Ball Coach down in Columbia.

/Click. Clack./

And he was one of the masterminds of the Apps’ three I-AA, err FCS, National Titles. What’s more, Elliott knows the man beneath the visor, Head Mountaineer Scott Satterfield, well. They’ve game-planned, they’ve schemed, they’ve called plays together, they’ve adjusted in-game, and they’ve talked philosophies.

Hmm…

…Remember those Mountaineer championship squads? The spread option attack. It was so money with Armanti (#Legend #ManCrush) – more on him in a moment – tossing it around and running or handing off. It was hella balanced between running and passing. Well, Elliott is still rocking that approach.

Well, at least he wants to be balanced. He tries to achieve balance, keeping it on the former Turner Field base pads 331 times and putting it up top 305 times. The results? Not very balanced. The Panthers’ running attack is 116th out of 129 in FB$, averaging 112 yards per game on land with just eight rushing TDs over 9 games….

…But the Fightin’ Shawn Elliotts didn’t get to 6-3 overall and 5-1 in the Belt by running the ball. Its passing game is 29th in All The Land, with QB Connor Manning – not that kind of Manning – throwing for 2,398 yards and 13 TDs. His efficiency is his secret, with No. 7 completing 64 percent of his passes.

Manning is The Man, no doubt. The Mountaineers will have to get pressure and turn that efficiency into chaos by forcing Manning to make throws he doesn’t want to, and from places on the field he doesn’t want to be. This will be another test for the up-and-down App State secondary. Clifton Duck and Tae Hayes need to have a big day.

/Quack. Quack./

Oh, there is one thing about Manning that gives us hope confidence. Against that baker’s dozen of TD tosses? He’s thrown it to the other team 6 times. Duck and Hayes are among the leaders in picks, and we expect one of them to grab a Manning pass.

The Mountaineers will be the Mountaineers, and it’s all about App’s own efficient signal caller, Dreamboat Taylor Lamb. No. 11 has thrown for nearly 2,260 yards and 21 scores against only 4 INTs. Manning’s pretty good, but Lamb really is The Man.

The Panthers’ defense isn’t that stellar and its resume isn’t that impressive. But 6 wins are 6 wins. They’ve found a way when it has mattered, and that’s all that matters. We expect a close one. And why wouldn’t we, since G-State couldn’t initially beat App State, so they hired its AD then one of its former top offensive assistants. After all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? That, or desperation.

Prediction Time: Balance will be a big difference, and the Apps will have more of that. A finally healthy (allegedly) Jalin Moore, combined with freshman phenom Marcus Williams Jr. and Lamb on the option, if they can get going, should allow the ‘Neers to keep Manning & Co. off the field just enough late. Lamb has a chance for one more big performance in a grande spot, with the Panthers’ 111th-ranked passing D surrendering 260 yards per outing and 18 TDs. This’ll be an entertaining – and nerve-racking one, a back-and-forth battle that lives up to the #FunBelt monicker. In the end, Lamb is the difference with some poised and precise throws late. Mountaineers 28, Panthers 23. Give. ‘Em. Hell.

Bonus Prediction: The Greatest App Ever, Armanti Edwards, has a handful of catches, including another HUGE grab late, to help the Toronto Argonauts capture the CFL’s Grey Cup (Sunday 6:30p, ESPN2). “We all want to grow up and be like Armanti Edwards,” Head Argo Marc Trestman said this week. You’re damn right, Coach. This blogger certainly isn’t qualified to give a Football God like AE any advice, but it couldn’t hurt: Give. ‘Em. Hell, No. 10. Armanti raises a trophy one more time, and has a role in a Cardiac Apps-like thrilling finish: Toronto 24, Calgary 23.  

–Appstradamus

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

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Week 13: Playoff Time | AppStateNews

  2. carbine762

    November 25, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    I hope this win today means we are finally getting it together and playing disciplined, experienced team football. Eleven games down, two to go, though I suppose given our lackluster play most of the season we'll probably wind up right back in Montgomery again.

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