The Mountaineers rank No. 67 in Athlon's Top 130 for 2017
Appalachian State was won 21 games over the past two seasons and could post double-digit victories yet again. The offense features plenty of weapons and experience up front while the defense doesn’t lack for playmakers on all three levels either. Scott Satterfield’s team not only appears to be the best team in the Sun Belt, these Mountaineers also will have a shot against both Georgia and Wake Forest to secure another victory against a Power 5 opponent. Sun Belt or not, no team should take Appalachian State lightly this fall.
Previewing Appalachian State Football’s Offense for 2017
With 27 wins as a starting quarterback, Taylor Lamb gives Appalachian State a proven weapon. The problem for Mountaineers opponents, though, is that he’s far from the only one. Lamb, the son of Mercer coach Bobby Lamb, knows how to keep the Mountaineers’ offense clicking, accounting for 24 total touchdowns last season. “He’s seen it all as a starter,” coach Scott Satterfield says. “He’s very mature. ...He’s got all the intangibles.”
Last season’s Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year Jalin Moore carried for 1,402 yards and should again be one of the league’s most dangerous players. He’ll have Terrence Upshaw back to help handle the rushing load after Upshaw missed last season with academic issues. Upshaw rushed for 442 yards in 2015 and had a strong spring.
The Mountaineers had the league’s top rushing offense last season, and thanks to an offensive line that has experience among its starters — most notably guard Colby Gossett and tackle Beau Nunn, seniors who’ve started the last two seasons — it will likely have it again.
Shaedon Meadors leads this season’s receiving corps after racking up 716 yards on 45 receptions.
Previewing Appalachian State Football’s Defense for 2017
Tee Sims returns at defensive end after collecting seven sacks last season. Fellow senior Caleb Fuller, who accounted for three, will likely start on the other side of the Mountaineers’ 3-4 front. Junior Myquon Stout will reprise his role as the starting nose tackle and defensive anchor.
Behind him, inside linebacker Eric Boggs is poised for another outstanding season. The senior led the Mountaineers in tackles last season, and without departed program mainstays Kennan Gilchrist and John Law lining up alongside him at linebacker, he’s now that unit’s unquestioned leader. But there is also potential star power at outside linebacker. Devan Stringer returns after logging 71 tackles last season — good enough for third on the team — and Satterfield says that senior Rashaad Townes could be the defense’s most talented player.
All four likely starters in the secondary saw significant action last season, with cornerback Clifton Duck picking off five passes and safety A.J. Howard grabbing three. Cornerback Latrell Gibbs is not expected to return after missing last season with academic issues.
Previewing Appalachian State Football’s Specialists for 2017
Then-freshman kicker Michael Rubino had a rough night in a close season-opening loss at Tennessee last season. But by hitting 75 percent of his field goal tries and all of his extra points after that, he’s proven that the placekicking job is all his. The punting gig, meanwhile is wide open. Rylee Critcher, the younger brother of last season’s starter Bentlee Critcher, and former Australian rules football player Xavier Subotsch are among the hopefuls aiming to fill that spot.
It wasn’t that long ago that the question surrounding Appalachian State was about how quickly the Mountaineers would adjust to life in the Sun Belt. But now, heading into their fourth season on the FBS level, the question is when the Sun Belt will catch up to them.
With wins in 20 of their last 22 league games, a conference title last season and back-to-back bowl wins, the Mountaineers have established themselves as one of the Sun Belt’s alpha dogs. With so much firepower returning, don’t expect that status to change anytime soon.
“We’ve had really good leadership the last few years, I think we’re going to have the same kind of leadership again this year,” Satterfield says. “… So I think we’ll have a great opportunity to compete at a high level.”