MICHIGAN vs APPALACHIAN STATE
Saturday, August 30 • 12:00 ET • Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI (109,901)
TV: BTN • Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway, Paul Carcaterra
Line: UM -35 • Series: ASU leads 1-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 1, 2007: ASU 34 UM 32
ASU by the numbers
0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt Conference
2013: 4-8, 4-4
Head coach: Scott Satterfield
at ASU: 4-8, 2nd year
Rush: Marcus Cox (245-1,250 yards, 15 TDs)
Pass: Kameron Bryant (237-333, 2,713 yards, 14 TDs)
Rec.: Marcus Cox (43-559 yards, 6 TDs)
Tackles: John Law (71 tackles)
Sacks: Deuce Robinson (2.0-11 yards)
*Stats based on 2013
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When ASU has the ball
Okay sports fans, rest assured, this will not be the human highlight show that we experienced 7 years ago when ASU QB Armanti Edwards went ballistic en route to the biggest college football upset of all time. Those heady days of championship football, albeit FCS championship football, are long gone for the Mountaineers.
Speaking of long gone and FCS, Appalachian State is now a member of the Sun Belt conference...because when I think of Boone, North Carolina...I think sun belt. Either way, Appy State is stepping up their game and entering the big boy ring at maybe just a few years too late. From 1989 to 2012, under then head coach Jerry Moore, ASU thrived amassing a 215-87 record with only 1 losing season (1993) and winning 3-straight NCAA championships from 2005-2007. Dominant to say the least. After taking over for Moore in 2013, head coach Scott Satterfield got off to a rough start – although they did improve quite a bit over the course of their 12 games.
The primary reason for the rough start was youth, especially on offense. Quarterback Kameron Bryant was actually pretty good in his sophomore season a year ago going 237/333 (71.2%), 2,713 yds, 14 TDs and only 4 INTs. Sophomore RB Marcus Cox ran for 1,250 yds on 245 carries and 15 TDs. A nice average of 5.1 ypc.
But maybe the brightest spots on the offense is the OL. They are incredibly experienced with 6 guys having at least 11 starts in their career. But the primary reason for the wealth of experience has been injuries. How this ling holds up will have an effect on ASU down the stretch.
But we don't care about the stretch, we only care about week 1. And what we care about are playmakers. We mentioned Cox, who is also a big threat catching the ball as well. ASU loses their two best receivers from a year ago, but they do have a lot of young guys competing for playing time, so expect to see a lot of them out there. But as far as any major threats, I don't see one.
For Michigan, this ASU offense might as well be like feeding time. I try not to get too excited as I type this, but frankly, I don't see how the Mountaineers do anything to this Michigan defense. I mean, okay, maybe some first game rust or a broken play or two...that's to be expected. But what we got to see a couple weekends ago at the open scrimmage was a defense that looked experienced, deep and hungry.
With seniors/juniors all over the place and enough talent to be one of the best defensive units in the country, I think Michigan fans should be very excited about what could be in store for 2014. What we see Saturday afternoon should be a mauling. Michigan's defense should be able to give the Michigan offense as much time as they need to put as many points on the board as possible...maybe even put up some points of their own in the process.
When Michigan has the ball
Well, this is when things get slightly less optimistic. Oh, don't get me wrong, I expect Michigan to cover or at least get pretty darn close to the 35-point spread.
A year ago, ASU's defense was less than adequate even for FCS purposes. Against Georgia in week 10, they gave up 568 yards of total offense, of which 441 was in the air. Oddly enough, the halftime score of that game was 14-6 Georgia...which had to be an uneasy feeling in Athens. But a 31-point 2nd half saw the Bulldogs flex their muscle as they pulled away.
ASU runs a 3-4 defense which was somewhat hit and mostly miss a year ago. Again, youth plagued the defense just as it did the offense. But that youth will look to improve in year 2 of this new system as 8 starters return for 2014.
For Michigan, you all know where this is going. Since day 1 on the job Brady Hoke has promoted making Michigan tougher all around. And while that may be apparent on defense this season, it also needs to be felt on offense. Hiring a guy like Doug Nussmeier only underscores the urgency of wanting to return Michigan's offense to its smashmouth roots.
The OL and the running game will be the focus of everyone in the stadium and watching from home. If Michigan struggles to get any rushing attack going in this game, expect a fan meltdown on Twitter, talk radio and message boards...and rightfully so. That's not to say Michigan can and should improve week to week...that is what good teams do. But a lack of a rushing attack against a vastly undersized Appy State defensive front would be highly worrisome at best.
A best case scenario tomorrow would see plenty of backups getting plenty of reps early and often. I'd love to see #98 on the sideline for the 4th quarter watching Shane and Wilton getting some much needed snaps. Michigan has a wealth of depth at RB and it would be great to expose them to some actual playing time. And of course, we need everyone healthy for week 2 when the real fun begins.
A offensive let down like we experienced against Akron and UConn a year ago could have serious lasting effects on this young offense. No matter what happens tomorrow, a trip to Notre Dame looms large on the schedule.
I can't really say with any confidence what I expect to see tomorrow. Hopefully a Michigan squad with a sense of urgency and grit. Dare I say I'll be eager to see how the OL plays as a unit. All eyes will be on them anyway – them and the running backs of course. It would be nice to see a chip on this offense's shoulder. I'm not expecting perfection tomorrow...but improvement from the BWW bowl would be at least reassuring from a We Fired Borges for Borges 2.0 standpoint.
There was a time when the Mountaineers were the Goliath beaters...like I need to tell you. But this ASU team is worlds apart from those days. This is the Appy State team we all thought we'd get 7 years ago. That should be reflected appropriately in the outcome tomorrow afternoon.
The chance of Appy State, especially this Appy State sneaking up on Michigan again is highly unlikely. Its not that a win will assuage the agony of 2007, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a slight bit of redemption at stake here.
Tweet obnoxiously if…
• No, not for this game. Just tweet that you're glad its over and Michigan won. Crack open a brew and bask quietly in the glow of being 1-0.
Commence panic if…
• Armanti Edwards 2.0 emerges from the ASU huddle.
• The OL is living up to historically low expectations.
• Gardner is running for this life.
• The defense is giving up any significant yardage/points.
Michigan 35 Appalachian State 0