Nathan HamSports Writernham@jeffersonpost.com
September 20, 2012
In a city that has been so friendly to Appalachian State football over the years, the Mountaineers will try to bounce back from a stinging home loss to the Citadel last weekend.
ASU won three straight national championships in Chattanooga, and have handled UT-Chattanooga with relative ease over the years. The Mountaineers last lost to the Mocs in 2004, a game where the score turned out to be much more like a college basketball game. UTC beat ASU that day 59-56.
Since then, it has been seven straight wins for the Mountaineers against the Southern Conference foe. Howver, the last two years have been incredibly close games. In 2010, the Mountaineers fell behind early, and faced some difficult odds in the fourth quarter. Trailing 35-14 entering the last 15 minutes of play, App State rallied back to score 28 points and capture a 42-41 victory.
Last season, the game was close again, but this time, a defensive battle between the two schools. ASU held on for a 14-12 win, with both Mountaineer touchdowns coming on defense plays, a 73-yard fumble return and a 46-yard interception return.
So far in the 2012 campaign, the Mountaineer offense has not been the problem. Jamal Jackson has completed 66 percent of his passes for 724 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the three games so far this year, and leads the Southern Conference in passing yards and completed passes. ASU has also found a better running game than last season where they struggled with that all year long. Steven Miller is currently third in the SoCon with 305 rushing yards and is second in rushing touchdowns with five.
The defense has been where the team has struggled. App State gave up 52 points to Citadel last week, the most points surrendered to a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent since the team got beat 54-7 at Georgia Southern in 2004.
Linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough is off to another outstanding start, leading the SoCon in tackles with 41 through three games and currently third in the entire country behind Georgetown’s Robert McCabe and Jordan Hendrix of Morehead State. Fellow linebacker Brandon Grier is off to a good start, sitting second in the SoCon in quarterback sacks (two) and fourth in tackles (29).
A young defensive line and a secondary missing star cornerback Doug Middleton, who is out for the season with an ankle injury, have been the major areas of weakness.
UT-Chattanooga currently sits at 1-2 on the season, and will see its strong defense face a powerful Mountaineer offensive attack. The Mocs currently have the 12th best defense in all of FCS football, allowing just 272 yards per game
Offensively, however, UTC has struggled, ranking just 69th in the country with 350 yards per game, and next to last in the SoCon.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Finley Stadium this Saturday.