DEFENSE DOMINANT IN 3RD APP STATE SCRIMMAGE

On yet another unseasonably temperate Saturday in Boone, NC the Appalachian State Football team took the Kidd Brewer Stadium field for a practice and scrimmage session that saw the Mountaineer defense control the field. Led by a relentless defensive line attack the defense limited a rushing game that was the Sun Belt’s best last season and handcuffed the passing game in a 60-play scrimmage.

Appalachian State has featured a record-setting defense in each of the past two seasons in a stretch that would make one wonder if there’s yet another level for this unit to climb. It’s a little over six months until the season starts, but if Mountaineer spring camp is an indicator the answer may well be “Yes.”

With Mother Nature being overly hospitable yet again, App State took to their outdoor field for an afternoon of drills and scrimmages. While the offense had moments, either in one impressive scrimmage drive or in seven-on-seven skeleton drills, it was the defense’s day.

Led by an onslaught of defensive line pressure, featuring returning All-Sun Belt nose tackle Myquon Stout, the defense stalled drive after drive and forced quarterback scrambles and repeated throwaways.

Based on VERY unofficial App State Mania stats from the scrimmage, here’s a review of the session’s results:

OFFENSE

It was a tough day overall offensively, that actually started with some promise.

- The opening drive began at the offense’s 36-yard line and featured a 20-yard completion from starting quarterback Taylor Lamb to X-receiver Mock Adams, starting in Shaedon Meador’s absence, on a perfectly thrown timing route. The defense stopped the drive three plays later, but PK Michael Rubino drilled a 41-yard field goal in blustery Boone wind putting points on the board.

- The second drive, which featured reserves on both sides of the ball, began with redshirt-freshman running back Marcus Williams slicing his way for a 25-yard gain. Williams totaled 37 yards on just three carries on the drive, which culminated with Z-receiver Zy Letman snagging a great one-handed touchdown reception on a back-shoulder throw from new #2 quarterback Jacob Huesman. The scoring drive went nine plays for 64 yards.

- After that the defense took control. The next four possessions featured 19 offensive plays for only 25 yards. The fifth drive of the day looked as though it had promise when Williams returned at running back and ripped off 12 yards on his first two carries, but the drive ultimately stalled as Huesman was called for intentional grounding as he was being wrapped up by Baer Hunter. Another drive was handicapped by an errant shotgun snap from back-up center Ryan Neuzil, which was recovered by the offense but only after a 14-yard loss.

- From that point on the offensive star of the day wound up being Rubino. The defense prevented drives that began at the defense’s 35-yard line or closer from gaining any more than five yards, but Rubino was able to convert field goals from 37, 43, and 46 yards in spite of gusty and swirling winds.

- Statistically, only Williams stood out among the running backs, with 49 yards on just five carries before a knee injury, one that required ice but looked relatively minor, kept him out of the final half of offensive snaps.

Taylor Lamb was 2-5 passing for 25 yards, but was forced to throw a couple of balls away under pressure. Huesman started 2-4 for 11 yards and a scoring throw, but was just 1-8 the rest of the scrimmage and missed his final six throws. In addition to the pass rush, Huesman seemed to struggle with the windy conditions often missing targets high. Zac Thomas started slowly, missing his first five throws, but hit slot receiver Ike Lewis for 13 yards late in the day and also ran for 10 yards in the final two drives.

The receivers had limited opportunities to make plays, though Letman’s TD grab was a highlight reel play. As noted, both Adams and Lewis had catches to move the sticks. The offense had more success in the seven-on-seven skeleton drill where tight end Collin Reed split the secondary for two 20-plus yard scoring grabs, one from Lamb and another from Huesman.

- Overall, though, the offense recorded 60 plays for just 119 yards and 16 total points. There were eight drives on the day where the offense was unable to gain a first down, and though there were no turnovers a couple of passes glanced off of defensive backs’ hands and one fumble was recovered by the offense.

DEFENSE

- As noted previously, it was Myquon Stout’s day. Note that the offense was minus normal starting center Tobias Edge-Campbell, who sat out with a minor injury, so redshirt freshman Neuzil got every scrimmage snap of the day. Now, no second-year player is going to handle Stout, but he was wreaking havoc on the starting offensive line before Saturday.

- With Stout leading the way, the defense had six quarterback hurries, two sacks (one was not called a sack by the official who blew the play dead, but App State Mania gave Stout credit for the play), four pass break-ups (two by cornerback Clifton Duck, who was lockdown good), and six tackles for loss equaling minus-20 offensive yards.

- With starting linebackers Eric Boggs (healthy and dressed but sitting out reps) and Anthony Flory (injured, though not seriously, on Friday) taking the scrimmage off, Jordan Fehr and Edward Davis got first-team quantity reps at inside linebacker and delivered first-team quality results most of the day. Both recorded quarterback pressures on the day and were in on numerous tackles.

- In addition to the two break-ups, Duck had the hit of the day. With fellow sophomore Darrynton Evans climbing the ladder to catch a sailing bubble screen throw Duck caught Evans at his peak and cut his legs, flipping Evans. Evans hit the turf hard and required attention from the training staff, but seemed to be okay after the dramatic play.

- In addition to Stout’s constant presence in the offensive backfield, Dog outside linebacker Rashaad Townes was responsible for multiple QB pressures on the day and redshirt freshman Elijah Diarrassouba claimed the other sack of the scrimmage session.

SPECIAL TEAMS

- As noted, Rubino was as good as he’s been all of spring camp. Kicking in high wind, that never seems to come from the same direction twice, Rubino was perfect on four attempts from 37 yards and beyond.

The Mountaineers will complete spring camp this coming week with regular practice sessions on Wednesday and Friday, culminating with their final scrimmage on Saturday.

POSTPRACTICE COACH INTERVIEWS

HEAD COACH SCOTT SATTERFIELD

CO-OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR & OFFENSIVE LINE COACH SHAWN CLARK

CO-OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR & QUARTERBACK COACH FRANK PONCE

CO-DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR & OUTSIDE LINEBACKER COACH NATE WOODY


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