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Appalachian State Football: 2018 Mountaineers Preview and Prediction

Jalin Moore, Appalachian State Football

Jalin Moore, Appalachian State Football

There are major departures to account for, but there's no reason to believe Appalachian State won't contend for its third straight Sun Belt championship, and at the very least, reach a fourth straight bowl game. 

Previewing Appalachian State Football's Offense for 2018

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FIU Football/Athlon Sports 2018 College Football Preview

The Mountaineers enter a new era with the departure of quarterback Taylor Lamb, a four-year starter who completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,737 yards and 27 TDs and rushed for 584 yards and five touchdowns last season. They also bid farewell to the right side of the offensive line, losing future pros Colby Gossett and Beau Nunn.

Luckily for the Mountaineers, senior running back Jalin Moore, the 2016 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, returns and will be healthy after battling injury in 2017. Moore still managed 1,037 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 183 carries last fall. He'll be backed up by sophomore Marcus Williams, who went for 500 yards and two touchdowns.

As always, Appalachian State will lean on its run game, and that should benefit sophomore quarterback Zac Thomas, who will likely win the job over Jacob Huesman. Thomas was effective as a backup last season, and he showed promise as a runner.

He'll have options in the passing game with the return of Thomas Hennigan (45 catches for 585 yards) and Jalen Virgil (20 for 364). Kansas State transfers Corey Sutton and Dominique Heath will give Appalachian State an instant boost, as will the speedy Darrynton Evans, who missed 2017 due to injury.

Previewing Appalachian State Football's Defense for 2018

There were uncharacteristic struggles before the Mountaineers pulled it together late, allowing total of 30 points over the final four games, highlighted by a dominant 34-0 shutout of Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl.

The architect is gone, with defensive coordinator Nate Woody moving on to Georgia Tech, as are six starters, including leading tackler Eric Boggs (102 tackles), lineman Tee Sims (9.5 sacks) and safety A.J. Howard (66 tackles) from a group that finished 29th nationally in total defense.

Still, the Mountaineers should field a dominant secondary thanks to cornerbacks Clifton Duck (11 career INTs) and Tae Hayes and safety Desmond Franklin.

Appalachian State's nose tackle doesn't post big numbers in its 3-4 scheme, but Myquon Stout is a load and should help free up end Okon Godwin to make plays. Senior linebacker Anthony Flory takes over as the voice of the defense.

Things won't look much different under new coordinator Bryan Brown, who spent six years coaching the Mountaineer cornerbacks.

Previewing Appalachian State Football's Specialists for 2018

The kicking game was an adventure, with Michael Rubino struggling with consistency, hitting 9-of-15 field goal attempts before Chandler Staton took over in October and finished strong, making 8-of-9 with two from 50 yards or more. Sophomore Xavier Subotsch has a firm hold on the punting job after averaging 39.8 yards per kick last season. Heath is a dangerous return man.

Final Analysis

Scott Satterfield's program sticks to its proven formula of pounding the run to control the game and playing aggressively on defense. The faces will be different, but there's more than enough talent in the backfield and on the offensive line to keep it rolling. The only question, of course: When will a major program make Satterfield an offer he can't refuse?

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