Appalachian State University makes its return to The Big House at the University of Michigan for the first time since pulling off one of the greatest upsets in college football history in 2007.
The Mountaineers open its inaugural Sun Belt season at Michigan this Saturday, trying for a second win in as many contests against the Wolverines.
“We’re excited about this opportunity to go back to Ann Arbor,” said App State Head Coach Scott Satterfield. “Our fans and alumni have special memories of that place.”
Michigan will once again be a big favorite in the game, something ASU is no stranger to. Satterfield knows that this is a different team than the one in 2007 that pulled the upset, but the challenges remain the same.
“Obviously Michigan is one of the most storied programs in the country, they’re always going to be picked towards the top. They’re always going to be one of the best teams in the country that you have to prepare extremely well for,” said Satterfield.
The Wolverines are led by quarterback Devin Gardner. After an up-and-down season last year, Gardner is ready for his senior season to be the best one yet. Michigan brought in a new offensive coordinator and will have one of the most talented groups of wideouts that the program has had in a while, including 6-5 junior Devin Funchess, 6-3 sophomore Jehu Chesson and 6-2 sophomore Amara Darboh.
In the backfield, Michigan has a slew of talented kids. Listed atop the depth chart for Saturday’s game is powerful sophomore back Derrick Green. Green was the top rated running back out of high school last year according to numerous recruiting websites and is expected to be the main running threat this season. De’Veon Smith and speedster Drake Johnson should also see some time in the Wolverine backfield.
Defensively, true freshman Jabrill Peppers has been the talk of the summer. One of the top defensive backs to ever come to Michigan has already drawn comparisons to Charles Woodson, and will start his career very similar to the former Heisman Trophy winner by playing the nickel cornerback spot on defense and also returning punts.
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke is ready for the year to get underway.
“It’s an exciting time of year for everybody. All the coaches and players, we’re looking forward to opening the season on Saturday,” said Hoke. “We’ve had a very good camp and very good leadership for our football team.”
According to Coach Hoke, the Wolverines will go into this game starting true freshman Mason Cole at left tackle, a spot vacated by Taylor Lewan, one of the top offensive linemen in school history.
“Mason is one of those guys who is very goal-oriented and has a toughness to him,” said Hoke. “He’s not making those mistakes in technique from a fundamental standpoint. He has been able to handle anything we’ve thrown at him.”
Overall, Hoke feels like maturity for a lot of the younger players on the team will be the key early on. Having a whole season and now a full offseason under their belt should help out a lot.
Kickoff is set for noon on ESPN 2.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87